The sixties is always thought of as the era of the mini-skirt and associated swinging designs. But it didn’t start out like that. It all started in London, where I was living at the time. We’d just got through the ’50s, which was still an age of austerity in England and much of Europe.
Not a mini-skirt in sight when I finished my compulsory service in the Royal Air Force in 1962. Skirts were well below the knee, and the glimpse of a petticoat showing below it was very much to be deplored.
The USA was even more conservative, although there was much talk of ‘Swinging London’ when I visited in ’66. A couple of years earlier, a Swiss colleague had been asked to leave a restaurant in New York because he had a beard. If you watch a ’60s TV show such as “Get Smart” notice how the villains have foreign accents, and wear beards!
I guess it must all have started with the new general availability of “The Pill”, as it was referred to. The young ladies in London, initially, then all over the country, suddenly realised they didn’t need to keep the boys under control, they could afford to tempt them! The designers leapt at this opportunity to bring out new shorter skirts and dresses, and shorter, and shorter…
Another trend had to come into play here, for years girls had worn stockings, usually held up by suspenders,(garters) which hung from a suspender belt, or frequently a girdle. Much effort was spent to ensure these did not show under the skirt, much like the VPL these days, for fear it would inflame the boys’ ardour!
Now with the shorter skirt, stocking tops and all the accoutrements were in view if the girl leant over a little. This would not do, so some idiot invented the pantyhose, or tights (modified dance tights), the ugliest item of female clothing ever (Male opinion). Men’s fantasies of women’s hosiery were shattered overnight.
The designers had a field day, or several years of them. Now it was quite possible that underwear, panties or knickers, would be glimpsed, if not displayed, so they had to be redesigned and given an endless array of colours and patterns.
At the other end of the body the once heavily disguised, or embarrassingly peeked bra strap and now part of the decoration, along with two or three more sets of straps. Women’s Bras became a subject that men could mention with only a little embarrassment. A Plus Size Bra was still in the future.
So began a long era of new designs and different approaches, though we are condemned to see them being re-invented every few years.