It was blamed for fender benders, sprained necks, and the demise of Western Civilization. Designer Mary Quant unveiled the shocking baby boomer fashion in the “Swinging London” Chelsea district.
What started in 1965 as local pop culture fad became de rigueur for young boomers worldwide, showing off more leg than ever imagined. No warning, hardly a catch-your-breath transition—skin burst upon the scene like a whirlwind. Quant fashions measured 6-7 inches above the knee; the average crept up a tad higher.
Women’s liberation began with the liberation of the leg. Wilder, partner-free baby boomer dance music begged for freedom of movement. Poodle and kick-pleat skirts helped with the jitterbug. The mini was the ticket for the Twist, Locomotion, and Go-Go dancing.
The style signaled a sea change from the mature full-figured sweater-girl Marilyn Monroe to the adolescent, androgynous Twiggy—poster child for the coming-of-age baby boomers girls. Thigh-in-thigh with the new fashion came “Panty Hose.” Many fashionistas predicted it would never catch on.
The mini was too short for traditional garter stockings, which were quickly retired to the Smithsonian. Few young ladies in the 1960s went out bare-legged. The new accessory, available in a variety of wild colors and patterns, turned into a fashion mainstay.
Birth controls pills, bikinis, short-shorts, and mini-skirts seemed to burst on the scene the same day. What became known as the baby boomer “sexual revolution” sallied forth.
The women kept on dancing while their long skirts got shorter, and their girdles dissolved, and their nipples burst through like hyacinth tips and their clothes withered away to the mere wisps and ghosts of draperies to adorn and glorify. ~Germaine Greer
· By the late 1960’s the mini had inched up even higher to the micro-mini. Recently, there’s the hip-hugging belt skirt seldom worn in public except by the very young and daring, or professionals.
· Influenced by feminism in the more mature years of women’s liberation, the fashion industry promoted longer skirts—the midi and maxi. There was another reason. The skirt had no place to go but down.
· The miniskirt was incorporated into the new, big-shouldered, “power” business suit in the 1980s and 90s. Popular television characters like Carrie in Sex in the City and Heather Locklear in Melrose Place popularized the look.
Baby Boomer Trivia Questions
►Who was the first Playboy Playmate?
Mamie Van Doren
►What feminist went undercover as a Playboy bunny to write an expose of Playboy Clubs?
Answers at end of post
Nancy Sinatra in her “Boots” and mini-skirt
Chick, as slang for females, was first recorded in the novel Elmer Gantry (1927), picked up from earlier American black slang. The British used the word around 1940 as a variation of “bird” (a sexy young lady). Chick found its way into Beat Generation vocabulary. Hippies, ignoring the sexist connotation, turned it into mainstream pop culture slang.
“Let’s go watch the submarine races” was a jocular euphemism for parking near the beach or shore and making out in the car. It also referred to a couple “diving” out of sight in the front or back seat. The term originated in the late 1950s and was briefly popular. As the 1970s approached and the boomer sexual revolution went into full swing, the slang assumed an old-fashioned innocence and fell out of use.
►Marilyn Monroe was the debut Playboy Playmate. Hugh Hefner bought the infamous nude calendar shots from the photographer. By the time he used them, Marilyn was a Hollywood movie star and A-list celebrity. She then admitted that was indeed her on the calendar. The “dumb” blonde quipped: “If I knew how fast my career would take off, I’d have never taken off.”
► Gloria Steinem went “undercover” as a Playboy bunny in 1963 to write a well-read expose that appeared in Show magazine. The experience was the subject of a 1985 made-for-television movie, A Bunny Tale, starring a svelte Kirstie Alley.
Gloria and Kirstie