1960s Elegant Dress

Image of an elegant black 1960s cocktail dress

During the 1960s, elegant dress styles were all the rage. Though trends ranged from thigh-length shift dresses to babydoll styles, the beauty of a classic, glamorous dress was appreciated throughout the decade. The sophistication was seen in everything from teenagers' prom dresses to women's evening gowns.

The Glamour of 1960s Dresses

Elegant, polished and refined all describe the outward radiance of an evening gown with perfection. To say that a dress from the 1960s was all of these things is no understatement; made of stunning materials, cut in shapes to flatter and touched with exquisite details, the quintessential feminine dress of the time was, in every way, an enviable garment to own.

The so-called "fancy dresses" of the day enjoyed a progression throughout the decade, taking their cue from Hollywood's elite actresses. They also raised brows from time to time with their penchant for higher hemlines! By the end of the decade, the adorable "babydoll" dress was the very epitome of a fun night out with friends. Occasionally reaching as high as mid-thigh, this dress may have been risqué, but it was no less elegant than the velvet gowns, floaty chiffon frocks and dramatic prom dresses that ruled the day. Each style made its own unique statement.

Examples of 1960s Elegant Dress

A peek inside a woman's closet during the '60s would no doubt reveal a wardrobe full of beautiful dresses. There were many styles of dress that grew popular throughout the decade. Some were more popular with younger age groups while others were must-haves in the social circles of older women. No matter what the style, though, one thing could be said for all of them: They were simply ladylike. Bearing skin was not necessarily a major focus, although a bit of shoulder, arm or leg certainly could peek out with no problem. However, "sexy" was not the goal as it so often is today.

  • Prom dresses of the day were lessons in loveliness. Long, flowing gowns in contrasting black and white or radiant pastel hues were popular. Materials like taffeta and chiffon were popular, and the empire waist, which made its debut during the '50s, was oft used to create a flattering fit. The quintessential prom gown, then, was a head-turning, glamorous piece that could even serve as an evening gown for a later date.
  • A night out on the town with a gentleman caller, a trip to the theater or opera or a visit to a restaurant called for something elegant and, quite simply, beautiful. Many women opted for rich, deep colors (like dark brown or bronze) and wore overcoats over their dresses. Brocade was a commonly used fabric, for its intricate weaving resulted in a glamorous look for an evening out. Simple heels completed the look to perfection.
  • Parties allowed women to have some extra fun with their fashion, but not at the expense of their modesty. Ebullient frocks with full skirts were extremely popular. If they were sleeveless, a light stole or wrap was worn around the shoulders to keep comfortable (and covered!). Frills and crinoline were not uncommon, and the dresses indeed boasted an extremely girly, youthful quality that was also quite charming.
  • Nothing could be said of women's fashions of the 1960s without a mention of the always-elegant Jacqueline Kennedy. The First Lady was renowned for her impeccable style, and though she's best remembered for her pink suit and matching pillbox hat, her elegant gowns were the real stunners. Despite this, they were also inherently simple, and that was where their beauty lay. The clean cuts, sweeping full skirts and rich colors were inspirations for women all over the country. Diminutive details, like a side-tie bow at the waist or a crepe bow at the bust, added just a hint of interest to already glamorous gowns.
  • The black dress was, of course, an inimitable favorite, too. Black dresses have always been the very epitome of elegance, and it was no surprise that this dress appeared in just about every woman's closet. Form fitting, shorter styles became commonplace during the latter half of the decade, while slightly more modest cuts were popular during the early '60s. Regardless of the style, it is interesting to note that the majority of black dresses from this period could easily be worn - and ogled at! - today.

Find Your Own

Short of shopping your attic for old clothes, your best bet for finding a 1960s elegant dress is to visit one of the many Internet boutiques devoted to vintage clothing. Check out these sites:

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1960s Elegant Dress