Back in time: ’60s affect current trends, music


Surrounded by upcoming Baby Boomer adults, the 1960s had a movement that put a spotlight on a young generation.

Marla Day, senior curator with apparel textiles, said the ’60s were a time of political change when youth began to gain a voice in the public.

“There were so many of them,” she said, “and everything they did had a big impact in term of the sheer number of people.”

Day said she is part of the Baby Boom generation, and she remembers that everything teenagers did was under a microscope. She said it was the first time marketing and media had so much attention on youth.

Many of the styles and trends seen in the ’60s still can be seen today. Here on campus students can be seen wearing cropped jackets, teased hair and skinny jeans. These influences date back to more than 40 years ago.


Day said John F. and Jackie Kennedy were influential in setting trends at the beginning of the 1960s.

“He was a very young president, so that took a lot of the youth,” she said. “They just naturally gravitated to him and his image and his wife and her image.”

Day said women looked up to Jackie’s sense of style. At the time, women adapted her clothes and her hairstyle.

“Some of the early ’60s influence came from her – the cropped jackets and the narrow skirts, and now we’re going back to that idea,” she said.

Day said men looked up to the president’s polished and refined look, which she said is still seen today.

“Some people do dress in that style,” she said. “You sort of see a little bit of everything. That’s what’s interesting about what’s going on in fashion.”

Deb Brosdahl, associate professor of apparel textiles, named other influences like the Beatles, Twiggy and the Rolling Stones. She said the styles set by these people also can be seen today.

“The skinny jeans are basically a throwback to the 1960s, when they were called stove pipe pants,” she said. “That started in England with the Beatles. That’s what most people associate with them – that kind of silhouette.”

Brosdahl said in the ’60s, skinny jeans were worn by both men and women, though women typically did not wear pants until the beginning of the ’70s.

She said women are now teasing their hair and pulling it back, which also started in the ’60s.

As the ’60s saw changes throughout the decade with the assassination of JFK and political protests, fashion saw a change by 1964. Day said in textile fabrics there were more black and white prints, which are seen today with pops of color like yellow or lime green.

Day said gaucho pants, patterned items and leggings were popular during the mid-decade, and these items have shown up again today.

“We’re seeing lots of colored hose. The leggings they’re showing in the stores with clothes are turquoise and hot pink and yellow. Here we go again,” Day said, laughing.

At the end of the decade, Day said the influence of the hippies was evident.

“The hippy grunge or the hippy peasant sort of look, which are Bohemian style – those have been going on for the last four or five years, with the embroidered jeans,” she said.


During the political climate of the ’60s, there were two songwriters who were influential in progressive political ideas. Craig Parker, associate professor music, who teaches music history, said Bob Dylan and Joan Baez wrote many songs that dealt with politics in the 1960s, particularly focusing on opposition to the Vietnam War.

The most popular group was of course the Beatles, Parker said. After the group made its fame on the Ed Sullivan Show, there was a wave of Beatle mania that is still heard on the radio and in grocery stores today.

“Probably their most important album was in 1967, ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,’ which was the first rock album conceived as a whole where everything was unified,” Parker said. “It was also really important because they did so much studio work. It was impossible to form that live. That started a whole new wave that could only be heard on recordings.”

Parker said another long-lasting effect of music during the decade was the Rolling Stone Magazine, which devoted itself to rock ‘n’ roll and politics and is still in production.

The Rolling Stones group also contributed to today’s world in its transformation of radio in America, because stations started becoming exclusively rock ‘n’ roll, he said.

“I remember when I was growing up in the ’60s, you could hear a whole variety of music on one station,” Parker said.

He also said jazz in the ’60s influenced today’s genre because musicians like John Coltrane and Miles Davis incorporated rock sounds into jazz, which started a new trend in jazz still found today.

In theater, the Broadway show “Hair,” about a young man who is drafted and getting ready to go to war, also influenced shows and music today. Parker said the show included rock elements and was one of the first shows on Broadway to have nudity on stage.

“Shows like ‘Rent’ and ‘Phantom of the Opera’ are all indebted to what was done in ‘Hair,'” he said.


In the ’60s, many of the trends from people and groups like the Beatles were brought from Europe. Brosdahl said it wasn’t until after World War II and the French fashion industry shut down that the United States started its own fashion.

For our trends today, Day said designers look at what’s going on in the world to find “the pulse of people.”

“They’re going to look at what’s going on in architecture, art, music, even probably food trends,” she said. “Everything that is going on, you kind of have to keep up with what that is. They’re always going to see a different take on something.”

Day said fashion designers in particular might go back and look at past ideas and then freshen them up to bring into the mainstream again.