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The miniskirt rebellion of the 1960s

For young women in the Swinging '60s, short skirts symbolized freedom. Reminisce takes a look back at the mini's beginnings.

Mad for Minis: The miniskirt rebellion of the 1960s (Reminisce Magazine)

Photo: myvintagevogue.com

Mad for Minis: The miniskirt rebellion of the 1960s (Reminisce Magazine)

Photo: myvintagevogue.com

Mad for Minis: The miniskirt rebellion of the 1960s (Reminisce Magazine)

Photo: myvintagevogue.com

Mad for Minis: The miniskirt rebellion of the 1960s (Reminisce Magazine)

Photo: myvintagevogue.com

Mad for Minis: The miniskirt rebellion of the 1960s (Reminisce Magazine)

Photo: myvintagevogue.com

Mad for Minis: The miniskirt rebellion of the 1960s (Reminisce Magazine)

Photo: myvintagevogue.com

Mad for Minis: The miniskirt rebellion of the 1960s (Reminisce Magazine)

Photo: myvintagevogue.com

Mad for Minis: The miniskirt rebellion of the 1960s (Reminisce Magazine)

Photo: myvintagevogue.com

Mad for Minis: The miniskirt rebellion of the 1960s (Reminisce Magazine)Mad for Minis: The miniskirt rebellion of the 1960s (Reminisce Magazine)Mad for Minis: The miniskirt rebellion of the 1960s (Reminisce Magazine)Mad for Minis: The miniskirt rebellion of the 1960s (Reminisce Magazine)Mad for Minis: The miniskirt rebellion of the 1960s (Reminisce Magazine)Mad for Minis: The miniskirt rebellion of the 1960s (Reminisce Magazine)Mad for Minis: The miniskirt rebellion of the 1960s (Reminisce Magazine)Mad for Minis: The miniskirt rebellion of the 1960s (Reminisce Magazine)

Fifty years ago, the first miniskirt appeared in Vogue magazine. Unlike the thigh-baring styles seen today, it brushed just above the knee. But for young women, it was liberating. Suddenly, their legs were free to dance.

Like the Fab Four, the miniskirt came from across the pond. London designer Mary Quant—often credited as the mother of the mini—began shortening hemlines in the late 1950s, when she opened her store in Chelsea. Inspired by the ballerinas she watched as a child, Quant wanted to create clothes that allowed women to move. Her young customers embraced the sleek style, requesting that she make her skirts even shorter. Although other designers were trimming hems, too, Quant’s shop became the fashion center of the emerging mod scene.

Once the Chelsea-girl look caught on in London and models like Twiggy rose to superstardom, the miniskirt made its way to the U.S. In 1967, ABC aired a television special called The Mini-Skirt Rebellion, which introduced the skimpy style to all Americans. To their parents’ dismay, teens embraced the trend. If only they’d  known hot pants were on their way just three years later.

Take a look back at the evolution of the miniskirt in this slide show of retro photos, shared by fashion archivist Jessica Hastings of myvintagevogue.com.

Did you know…

  • Mary Quant named her skirt sensation after her favorite car, the Mini Cooper.
  • American clothing companies were reluctant to adopt the mini—until they spotted trendsetter Jackie Kennedy wearing one.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

John Moment` February 12, 2014 at 1:24 pm

Reminisce is a great magazine I read it from cover to cover it brings back my younger days I hope it continues the good work

Reply

Cathy Schroeder February 15, 2014 at 12:29 pm

I remember in 1951 when I married the dresses were below the knee and stayed that way for sometime. It was liberating when the skirts were shortened because it gave you more room to move around and dance instead of feeling like you were hobbled
by the longer slim skirts of former years. I am afraid that they have gone to extremes today because the clothes are way too short inviting comment and other things too nasty to mention. As the saying goes ‘All things in moderation”.

Reply

carolyn February 16, 2014 at 7:29 am

Remember the minis well. To me they were just another change to fashion but didn’t see them as rebellions or liberating.

Reply

CAROLE April 20, 2014 at 3:51 pm

I worked part-time at an insurance agency in 1965 while a Junior in high school. I was proud of a black, a-shaped “mini-skirt” I’d made in Home Ec. that came BARELY over my knee. The first day I wore it to work, my boss told me to go home and change my clothes! I was mortified. A year later the hems went WAY up and I wore them… no issues then. Hmmm.

Reply

E. Blumenfeld May 22, 2014 at 4:03 pm

My sister Lutgarda and I were in Antillian College, Mayaguez, Puerto Rico in 1962 and mini skirts were a NO NO. One day, the Girls Dorm director and one of the teachers, took a measuring tape and started measuring skirts. We were working that morning and when we arrived for lunch and then class, we saw one the girls with her hem undone and everybody was laughing at her. She only said “that’s the way they want me to dress”. Another day, my sister had a skirt considered too short–not mini–and the the teacher was going to undo the hem but I intervened and told her just lowered.

Outside, we could not use them either because Antillian College kept an eye on all in and out the campus.

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Rickey Newman June 20, 2014 at 1:01 am

Miniskirts made a comeback of sorts back in 1980′s as well. One thing that I remember from high school in the sixties was teachers checking girl’s skirts with a ruler to see how many inches above the knee that their skirt stopped at.

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