High fashion's groovy return

The sixties have come round again, and you know the old joke: If you can remember them, you weren't there.

I beg to differ: I clearly remember, with great fondness, a deep purple  crocheted vest, a magnificent, embroidered Afghan dress, a swirling, tiered silk skirt that equaled Joni Mitchell's.

After a childhood and adolescence in school uniforms and "classics", what freedom to leave for university in 1966! 

I arrived with a trunk of coordinated skirts and sweaters, but by the following spring skipped across campus in bell-bottoms and a Mexican blouse. "My, you are keeping your clothes in good shape", Mom said, inspecting the largely unworn Villager gear when I came home in May. 

By the early '70s, I went to work; hello skirt suits and budget-stretching neutrals. Slowly, the painted silks and gypsy blouses decamped for a party elsewhere.

But '60s style is back, and not just in 420-friendly Colorado. I predict the increasing decriminalization of marijuana will affect fashion even in less progressive jurisdictions, bringing a renaissance in lush fabrics, bold patterns and easy cuts.

Always a textile aficionado, I'd rather score a swath of gorgeous cut-velvet than an ounce of Orange Creamsicle—but if the air of change carries creamy suedes and fantastic prints, bring it on. (Shown, devoré cut velvet scarf from The Getty Store; price, $105.)

Would I indulge in the legal pot? Perhaps for medical reasons, but not for pleasure: it put me to sleep in the '60s and made me paranoid the one time I indulged in the intervening 40 years. Your flight log may vary.

I welcome the reappearance of opulent textiles, far more for their sheer beauty than for nostalgic memories, though such pieces take some sleuthing to find. (Let the splotchy tie-dyes and shoddy patchworks stay in the patchouli-soaked past.)  

Though head-to-toe retro doesn't appeal, a bit of unconventional fabric on a mature woman looks phenomenal.

J. Crew moonglow paisley silk tee, price, $118

Ketana Palazzo silk trousers (limited sizes); East UK; sale price, £50

Microcosmos Italian cotton kimono; price, £146 at Wolf & Badger

Slate blue beaded neck detail velvet dress; Poetry UK; price £189

Silk Khasia top, Anthropologie; price, $198

Boden canvas shopper ; price, £19

The '60s weren't all paisleys! Check the selection of '60's inspired graphic prints (Marimekko, Celia Birtwell, Ossie Clark) on these totes—and they're machine washable.

Whether I support the encroaching high times or not, I am firmly in favour of the philosophy expressed so long ago in Simon and Garfunkle's "The 59th Street Bridge Song":
"Slow down, you move too fast.
You got to make the morning last.
Just kicking down the cobble stones.
Looking for fun and feelin' groovy."


LauraH said…
It would be wonderful if some of the colour, pattern and energy of the 60s returned. Such a lovely change from the sea of dark colours and mostly drab fabrics I see on the subway every day - even the scarves and hats are dull.

In that spirit, I've been toying with these peasant style linen tunics for summer
Duchesse said…
LauraH: I like the style very much and am stopped cold by the dry clean only instructions, which I would not heed, but still, why make linen with that caveat?
Susan B said…
Even though I'm mostly drawn to more minimalist, looks, I have to admit that some of the pieces categorized by fashion editors as "luxe boho" are quite appealing. Some prints may sneak back into my wardrobe this spring...LOVE that J.Crew tee...
Kristien62 said…
Ooh-memories. I remember my bell bottoms and Poor Boy tees, a pea coat and some funky, clunky shoes that my uncle thought were from Goodwill. Also, my John Lennon glasses which I recently found(they really don't look as radical any more.) I, too, brought Villager, John Meyer of Norwich and Ladybug items to school and, I must say, I loved them, too. I could use a little sixties in my life right now. Maybe not the tie dye!
materfamilias said…
I have resisted and resisted that JCrew tee, and now I'm wondering why. . . except that I remember my recognition of how full my drawers and wardrobe are. And I have such a natural attraction to prints and texture that resisting is probably a good idea, at least for now. . .
Wendelah said…
I still have my cut velvet scarf--in perfect condition, too. I still own my beautiful afghan dress, which I have been toying with turning into a blouse. Maybe this is the year.
LPC said…

All substances aside, don't you think this vivid print business has been with us now for a couple of years?
Love that Theory dress! I was quite overwhelmed with all the prints in Anthropologie, it is obvious that prints are hot this Spring. I might invest in a tote and scarf and call it a day.
My experiences involved over eating when the munchies struck!
Anonymous said…
What a clever and enjoyable post. I always found marijuana to be nothing special, but for the young men of that time, it seemed a revelation, a license to feel and appreciate that my female friends and I already possessed. In that way it may have contributed to some real social change.

And the clothes! You're right, it wasn't all paisley--it was all preference. We wore what we liked, whatever felt good, colors and textures we were drawn to. I remember a coltish auburn-haired beauty in college who wore the same outfit--fawn corduroy pants and a creamy oversized cowl-neck angora sweater--every day, because she loved it. I remember wearing a mini dress that seemed to have been crocheted out of string, and a long printed dress with tiny flowers sprinkled on a black ground. Navy woolen sailor pants from the army surplus store, men's batiste tuxedo shirts, my mother's portrait-collared periwinkle cashmere sweater--everything was cheap and fun and looked good on us because we were young. A very tall boy patched and re-patched his one pair of super-long jeans with bright calicoes. I embroidered stalks of Timothy grass on my boyfriend's denim shirt because that was his name. There was all the time in the world to do things like that, inside the bubble of my college years. Outside that bubble, of course, was a terrible, senseless war, and the Draft waiting to snatch the boys from us. That gave a poignant edge to the dreamy beauty of those days.

Forgive my rambling--a little nostalgia is a dangerous thing!

Susan said…
I had a dark pink velvet hot pants jumpsuit when I was in college! Can you imagine? I also remember making my own halter tops out of whatever fabric struck me as beautiful at the fabric store. And I loved my embroidered "peasant" shirts purchased in Hungary when I was 20. We looked great in these things when we were young! Thanks for reminding me.
Duchesse said…
Pseu: That tee is going to sell out.
Kristien62: All of these, I wore too- I had forgotten John Meyer, Drumohr sweaters, Etienne Aigner bags. We veered from from the preppy to suddenly, Sgt. Pepper!

materfamilias: Good reason! Adding another great thing means the things I have get worn less, and then barely at all.

Wendelah: Mine was so voluminous that it would be too wide as a top; the proportions would be off. They are amazing pieces; Wish I had mine but would be unlikely to wear it now.

LPC: Prints yes, but lately I am seeing deliberate '60s motifs.

hostess: Oh a scarf would be perfect, I would like one too.

C: Not at all, that's such an evocative portrait and reminded me of the exuberant and disruptive bursting forth of such clothes... there seemed to be more "costume" as compared to now. Also we are not used to seeing things like minis; they were audacious, and no one debated whether you could still wear one at 50. (One of my girlfriends sat her 40 year old mother down and told her she could not, must not, wear the one she had bought to be current.)

I had a little business, hand-embroidering denim patches for jeans and making macramé belts.

Susan: Oh yes, you could make one of those halter tops in a half-hour. A pink hot pants jumpsuit... you must have turned heads in that! I hope it's commemorated in a photo.

Eleanorjane said…
I don't remember the 60s ('cos I wasn't even a twinkle by that stage) but I do feel like creativity in fashion stalled in the 1980s. Everything I've seen since then has pretty much been a revision of one decade or another. I can't be doing with 90's retro!
Anonymous said…
I am the odd one out . None of this appeals - too fussy , but then , even in the 60s , I avoided the psychedelic & flowery prints . Guess I've always been a minimalist
barbara said…
Funny and matching post, today is Mary Quant's 80th Birthday.
Fashion then was imaginative and there were so much different styles parallel like not anymore.
I had this Afghan dress you show here!

But no Revival here for me, not even a scarf.
Duchesse said…
Eleanorjane: A mere child!

Wendy; I knew girls who dressed that way then; they looked a bit dull to those of us in the "rags and feathers from Salvation Army counters", but turned out to be elegant later! We had to tone down and they were already there.

barbara: I don't want the more garish psychedelic patterns but am drawn to the Marimekko type of thing, again. Why did I give away all of it? :)
Well, I've always remained boho, but even then, a lot of pics of me are pretty much all in black or dark solid colours, or those Indian wrap skirts with a dark background (navy, dark red, green) with a paisley print.

I welcome this, but also notice that young people here have incorporated such clothing for at least a decade.

I bought another wrap skirt (for about 10€) when last in Italy - they were very in vogue there and then, but with plain tops. However, I don't wear it here much, as I'm always on my bicycle in good weather and it is too liable to get caught in the chain.

I had a very pretty red Afghan dress too, and have no idea what became of it. At a certain point we have to get rid of stuff.
Unknown said…
"Your flight log may vary!" Great stuff today. While you might not indulge, your prose certainly was psychadelically inspired. Love the clothes too.. I think with some slightly muted coloring, the layering will appeal to us of a certain age
Sandra said…
Oh, still have some beautiful pieces from those days. I love luxe fabrics. I don't like patterns too close to my face. I have grey hair and somehow the patterns just take over. But give me some cut velvet or cashmere and I'm yours.
Someone said…
Boho will always cycle in and out.

But my favorite styles from the 60s are Mod, not hippie (and not Mad Men pre-Mod). I still appreciate all of it though, more than I did the first time around. I was born in the mid-60s and remember the aesthetics of the day vividly. My mom was always fashionable and, since she tried to dress me her way and not mine, I rebelled.

In any case, I so appreciate the absolutely original design sense of those days that we just can't have anymore with the constant recycling of everything between 1860 and 1999...over, and over, and over, and overrrr...
Duchesse said…
lagatta: The young will always pick the best of vintage and embrace it!
And now these styles return in new clothes, which is good for those who liked the designs but want new clothes.

Unknown: I was in San Francisco during the Summer of Love, enough said.

Sandra: The only cashmere I got my hands on back then was my (much older) sister's, which was rapidly repossessed, with ire. Know what you mean about pattern taking over; I'm thinking of a bag.

Someone: I laughed reading your comment b/c today I am wearing stovepipe black jeans, a turtleneck, duffle coat and paddock boots, quite mod- though boys would have worn that then. I liked it too.

The posts with the most