By: Jacqueline Lege’

London, UK, The Sunday Times April 2, 1967  p.51

The Sunday Times, March 26, 1967 p. 33

The New York Times, April 4, 1967 p. 44

Seventeen Magazine, November 1967: Twiggy Lashes by Yardley, p. 32

Seventeen Magazine, September 1967: H.I.S. for Her, p. 35

 

twiggy by yardley

1 Photography by Seventeen Magazine p. 32

What does “Twiggy” mean?

Ask an American newspaper in the Sixties, and the answer is a description of her frail body. Ask Seventeen magazine advertisers, and it’s a description of her eyelashes. In virtually every magazine and newspaper ad directed to youth fashions, there was a girl with at least Twiggy’s eyelashes, if not her mop-top as well. Now, in 2014, Twiggy is defined as any frail, heavily made-up young girl. Her style and image was pervasive in the fashion world, and even when she moved on from the world of modeling, those images stuck with the rest of the world.

 

The Swinging ‘60s

Culture grows, matures and changes despite a nation’s economic, political, and sociologic status. In the 60’s, Americans were buffeted by the Vietnam War and the death of a President John F. Kennedy, as well as complex social problems arising from racism. People were eagerly consuming culture, and part of that culture was fashion.

Fashion has been important to humanity for centuries. It reflects cultural standards and provides an avenue for self-expression. Fashion requires disposable income in American culture as well as others, and thus can be used as an emblem of status. Fashion in the 60s reflected the complexity of its era: different hairstyles; revolutionary cuts and lines of clothing and fabric; make-up; pop-art prints. The conflicting ideologies in the Sixties created completely new styles. The fashionable use of androgyny, a theme epitomized by the popularity of Twiggy, is an example of a new style. Twiggy was often characterized as waifish and elfin, not only due to her thin physique but also because of her pixie haircut. This combination made her resemble a young boy, and because she was popular and accepted, this provided an avenue for others to experiment with dressing in-between genders.

Twiggy was named the “Face of ‘66” by The London Daily Express at the beginning of her career, and her popularity exploded in London. Within a year, London newspapers could be seen casually referring to her style as a basis of comparison, while America called her the fist “child star of high fashion.”

 

h.i.s.

2 Photography by Seventeen Magazine p. 35

 Androgyny as a Fashionable Choice

By 1967, it was known Twiggy had a certain charm to her: in a The Sunday Times article about fashion’s latest “in” being girls wearing feminized versions of masculine party dress, Twiggy was referenced as the “why” by anthropologist James Laver. It was game-over for the hearts of fashion conscious consumers. Twiggy had left England, crossed the pond, and started modeling in America, and appeared on things from Newsweek to Seventeen Magazine. America was transitioning from the 50s era of “set” hairstyles, curlers, rollers, and long skirts to the 60s short shorts, minidresses, and pixie cuts.

Newsweek, April 10, 1967: “Her figure belongs to the youngest of Venus’ handmaidens, not to Venus herself: four straight limbs in search of a woman’s body, a mini-bosom trapped in perpetual puberty, the frail torso of the teen-age choirboy…”

Another example of androgyny’s effect was that of the “shift dress.” This dress was short, often with a print or a collar, and no discernable shape of the body because it hung from the shoulders. This is in stark contrast to the two-piece top and tight-waisted skirts of the 50s, which would show at least the width of one’s hips, a classic sign of fertility.

Jacqueline Lege’ is a junior journalism student who was raised by parents born in the 60s and who infused their tastes into one little human.

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