The Changing Earring Styles of the 1960s
The 1960s was a revolutionary decade that saw fashion swing from conservative knee length dresses and Jackie Kennedy styling to a totally wild 'pop art' (bright blocks of colour) and 'op art' (geometric optical illusion) fashion extravaganza. There was no such thing as too short for hemlines - fashion was daring and exciting! And with mods, rockers, and hippies all sporting their own styles there was plenty to keep the fashion designers busy!
1960s Cover of Vogue with Model in Large Red Earrings
The youth of the 1960s were enjoying a freedom and euphoria born of post-war optimism, and were determined to ditch convention and forge a brand new style for their brave new world. Colours were bold and bright, and shapes fantastic!
The Early Years When you think of the 1960s–unless you've been there!–you're most likely to imagine the bright colours of the Mods, or the flared trousers of Woodstock, but the early 1960s were still very tame and modest and somewhat 'hungover' from the fifties. Women still wore elegant suits and gloves, or flared tea-length dresses, and metal and gemstones still formed the earrings of choice. Rhinestone and paste earrings in clusters and drop styles were very popular, as were domed button earrings featuring plastics, fabrics and sequins.
Mods, Rockers and Hippies
Mod - or Modernist - is a British subculture that began in 1958 and by the mid-1960s saw fashion swing towards the cosmopolitan looks that frequently graced the covers of Vogue and Cosmopolitan magazines. The Mod look was clean cut in bright colours and monochromatic geometric designs, with short babydoll style dresses and tight trousers, and short neat hairstyles for women. The mod lifestyle was hedonistic, living for the pleasures of modern jazz and pop music, hard partying and spending money. A favoured mode of transport was the motor scooter, particularly the chromed-up Vespa adorned with many mirrors!
Black and white image of a model in monochrome dangly earrings and sunglasses If the Mod were the Modernists the Rockers were definitely clinging to the 1950s! Rockers centred their style around a love of motorbikes, rock and roll, Motown music and dancing. The men wore leathers and styled their hair in pompadours and DA's, the women wore their hair long or in high-rolled styles and back-combed beehives. Earrings were often long and flashy, big hoops or, like the modest early years, the large domed button earrings.
Diana Ross and the Supremes in Flashy Crystal Earrings
The later sixties saw the emergence of the hippies and the peace movement, with a bohemian style of long hair, flowers, flowing clothes and flared trousers for men and women. Jewellery was inspired by nature with lots of wooden beads, feathers, and leather.
But what of the earrings? There was still a place for traditional jewellery fashioned with gemstones and rhinestones, and the feminine styles of the 1950s were still very popular. Clip-ons remained common although piercing was now more acceptable and that lead to bigger, heavier earrings being worn too. The many diverse fashion styles of the 1960s made this decade a very exciting period for earring designers, and any material from metals and plastics, paper and resin, and beads and feathers was used in their creation. The Mod fashion for short and swept back hair suited earrings of all lengths and styles, and bright coloured plastics and resins could be moulded into many mass-produced styles which remain highly collectible today. Twiggy was the iconic fashion model of the sixties, and with her short 'boyish' crop she wore the many styles well!
Twiggy in bright bold earrings, short earrings on the cover of Vogue, and dangly bauble earrings If you're a fan of 60s earrings it's worth keeping an eye on our 'True Vintage' page. We try to source earrings of all decades and eras and you never know what you might find there!
Image Attribution: The images in this article are not the property of the author or Alyssum Jewellery and were sourced from the internet with artists unknown. If you are the owner of any of the images and would like attribution or removal please let us know. Next week: "Gemology, A is for ..." Learn about all the gemstones and minerals, including some incredibly rare ones, that start with the letter A in the first part of our Gemology Series.