In the 1960’s, America turned its eyes east for inspiration.
Specifically, we looked to England.
We were very impressed indeed with what the British had to offer. There was the British Invasion in music, there was the suave and immensely popular James Bond, and there was also the fashion world.
Carnaby Street was considered the hottest fashion center in the world circa 1965. When the trendy shoppes of the district would make fashion statements, the rest of the world, particularly the USA, would listen.
Mary Quant was a mover and shaker in the London fashion scene, and her Bazaar, opened in 1955, was a popular browsing spot for the trendiest of the trendy.
Ten years later, she released a shockingly short skirt to the masses, named after her favorite car. Thus was born the miniskirt.
The result was an instantaneous change in the way the western world’s females dressed, much to the delight of the western world’s men.
Soon, miniskirts were seen on TV, in the movies, in magazines, and in Hometown, USA.
Elizabeth Montgomery was seen sporting one on Bewitched. Anne-Margaret entertained the Vietnam troops whilst donning one. Goldie Hawn danced on Laugh-In covered (just barely) in a miniskirt and painted slogans. Nancy Sinatra festooned her album covers with her perfect legs exposed to the world, thanks to the immensely popular shockingly short skirt.
The sky was the limit. Well, not REALLY, in the case of the skirt itself, but images of the swinging 60’s are replete with women wearing skirts that went as high as one dared.
One model in particular who cemented the short dress’s place in 60’s fashion was Lesley Hornby, aka Twiggy. The slightly-built girl who defined the Mod look was frequently seen wearing a miniskirt and leaning against many a London lamppost. She looked so great with her skinny little legs that, for better or (largely) worse, more traditionally-built females began going on starvation diets in an attempt to gain the same waif-like look.
For a fashion fad, the miniskirt enjoyed an amazingly long run, popularity-wise. They appeared in American culture from 1965 all the way through the mid 1970’s. At first linked to London’s Mod movement, they took on a life of their own. Perhaps nothing epitomized this more than country music stars like Jeannie C. Reilly and Dolly Parton performing and being photographed wearing the teeny little dresses. Additionally, even First Daughters Tricia and Julie Nixon were photographed in miniskirts. By the late 60’s, the short dress was considered mainstream enough for even the offspring of a notoriously conservative President to be seen wearing.
The miniskirt’s popularity waned, but it never went away. In fact, it has made comebacks from time to time. For instance, in the 90’s, Ally McBeal brought back the Twiggy look of skinny legs displayed via a miniskirt.
Even in this 21st century, the 60’s-spawned fashion trend is popular. Retro has been hot since it wasn’t yet retro, and miniskirts have the added benefit of displaying the female anatomy in a way that is quite pleasing to members of the opposite sex. Ergo, ANY miniskirt revival is going to be heeded as wonderful news by half of the world’s population.
Paisley bell-bottoms are long gone. Tie-dye is sometimes seen, but invariably in the context of parody of 60’s fashion. But the miniskirt, born in a more carefree time, soldiers on.
I guess the same could be said of us.