The 60s threw the rule book out the window when it came to coats. They could be worn in any colour from zingy orange to sky blue in any fabric from wool to wet-look. Prints were equally outlandish from polka dots to plaid. We take a look at some of the iconic designs that were popular and why they have never really never gone out of fashion.
Mary Quant claims to have been one of the first designers to use PVC and vinyl for coats and jackets making the plastic mac a key look for the mod era. This lightweight coat would usually have a large collar and front pockets and fancier versions would have a prominent belt at the waist. Buttons looked great but the best versions had zip-up front with a classic ring pull zip. Black and white versions were very popular but as the decade progressed designers experimented in brighter colours. They might look good and keep you dry but they were terribly squeaky and could get a bit smelly. As technology product in new weather-proof fabrics, sturdier versions were produced that were still light and structured with a more canvas like feel, particularly popular were brands such as Dannimac.
Despite being more than 100 years old the trench coat still looks stylish. Originally conceived as a practical wet weather coat in the 1850s by Thomas Burberry and John Emary (whose company later became Aquascutum). The ‘Trench’ name was adopted during the war although the military version was of course far more robust. Worn by both men and women in classic beige, key style elements include a belt at the waist and on the cuffs, slight flare from the waist and a cape across the shoulders at the back to help. Collar buttons at the neck. Best worn by women without showing any dress or skirt under the hem. If you wanted to nail the continental look – this would be a wardrobe must have.
Military style had a massive influence on the designs of the 60s. In the 1960s Yves Saint Laurent’s pea-coats hit the catwalk and were immediately popular with both men and women and formed part of an androgynous trend that worked its way through fashion in the 60s. A pea-coat traditionally would finish at the top of the thighs – but longer lengths were also popular with women especially as they kept your legs warm in winter when you were wearing a mini. Traditionally though a peacoat is a paired down design with no belt at the waist with slit pockets on the front. Yves Saint Laurent and other designers, would of course, adapt them with their own little finishes such as a flat ‘Peter Pan’ style collar and oversized pockets and top stitching details.
Capes weren’t just for ‘super-heroes’ and were a great addition to the modernist 60s wardrobe. You could move freely in them and still keep warm and they added to rather than concealed the outfit underneath. Most importantly they gave a sharp structure to your look. They came in a variety of colours and prints with buttons or front zips. Look out for fabulous versions in plaid or classic Welsh retro wool prints can be picked up quite easily in vintage shops and online these days. Look out for lovely details such as buttons running up to the shoulder and tie-belts to cinch in your waist.
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