Often there is the notion that 60s trousers were mainly tight and low on the hip, whilst anything before that was pleated and baggy. Well, not really so. During the 60s – as with any decade – many different styles and fits were being made and sold. Although it is true that in the later part of the 50s and then early 60s, the classic narrow legged trouser became popular amongst mainly the youth, trousers which became known as the ‘hispter’, laying on the hip rather than the traditional natural waist. However it was not the first time narrow legged trousers became the chosen style for the ‘In Crowd’.
During the late teens and the early 20s suiting styles were the basis for what came 4 decades down the line (more on this on the next Let’s Talk). The slim trouser lines revival was mostly due to the French and popularised by a young Italian (he was Italian 🙂 ) Pierre Cardin, who was mostly known for his women’s clothes, but hit it big with men’s clothes especially after suiting up The Beatles in 1963 (although that specific collar less design was being sold as early as 1960).
The little front and side slits to the narrow hem lines, some embellished with cloth covered buttons and even back steps, were to be seen on french fashion magazines from as early as early February 1958 and eventually got picked up by young teenage Modernists (after their love of Modern Jazz and all things cutting edge for the times ) in the smokey clubs of London through their obsession with all things Continental. High waist and the generous pleated fits of 50s trousers quickly took back stage as thinner lines, with lower waist lines (reaching their lowest in 1966-1967 before they rose again) soon were all the rage as hip, cool youngsters from London were fomenting a cultural and sartorial revolution from within.
Meanwhile, across the seas in the US, their youth too was quickly developing a keen interest on more fitted clothes albeit less formal to the Modernists (who then soon became known as Mods). This however was not the case with the African-American Jazz and Soul artists that had always been cutting edge in style (and whose cool record sleeves were a huge influence to the afore mentioned Mods).
However it was not until 1964 when The Beatles exploded in the North American market that British beat bands – and styles – became all the rage. And so the famous British Invasion was thus both musical and fashion. Of course these travelling British Beat groups then picked up clothes and trends from the US and brought them back to Europe. And with these to and fro movements, the media – both printed and video – followed suite. And so major international fashion styles were born and spread.
So, next time you want to date the narrow leg slim fit trouser with the fancy details on the bottom, it’s France 1958 rather than Soho 1962.