Fashion Overview

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Fashion overview Women's fashion in the fifties was dominated by Christian Dior's "new look" of 1947. This feminine, curvy style was broad in the hips and bust, narrow in the waist, and took some serious undergarments to achieve. Menswear was based almost entirely on the three piece suit, with variations for formal and casual, but with very little change from one season to the next.

Youth styles were hampered by the fact that very little opportunity existed to buy clothes from any other shop except those of their parents. Rebellion therefore, had to be in the details. Tight trousers, hair combed like, say, Tony Curtis, a distinctive tie or particular item worn as a badge of youth were the only ways of looking different from the older generation. One example of fifties rebellion came in the form of Teddy Boys, who managed to achieve a distinctive look with fairly traditional clothes.

By 1960, styles had become very static. Big stores had a shop in every town selling cheap, practical clothes to a public that remembered the austerity of the war years. The clothes were not exciting however and the conformity was overwhelming. A fashion conscious youth was ready to take advantage of increased spending power. Unemployment was at an all time low, the world was changing fast, and influences from pop and film stars were increasing.

Mary Quant opened her first Bazaar boutique in 1955. She decided to ignore the large Paris fashion houses, taking her ideas from the street and selling her designs directly. It was this method that caused a fashion revolution in the sixties. Catching this new mood, hundreds of boutiques sprang up in and around London's Soho district, run by young and talented designers like Quant, and Barbara Hulanicki of Biba fame. Their success came in...