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Memory Kits: Fads of the 1960s

Memory kits are for people with dementia, memory loss, or cognitive impairment. They are intended to stimulate conversation or reminiscence with a person with cognitive issues

Fads of the 1960s



The beehive was created in 1960 by Chicago stylist Margaret Vinci Heldt. Heldt was asked by the editors of Modern Beauty Salon magazine to create a new hairdo that would spice up the world of beauty. Heldt designed the beehive by thinking about a velvet fez that she owned. The cap had beaded decorations that looked like bees, but more importantly, the tall hat didn't leave Heldt with hat hair after she wore it. Heldt wanted to create a style that maintained its shape, the way the hat maintained her hair. Thanks to that black hat, the beehive was born.

The beehive was an instant success. Women were already in love with the big hair trend, thanks to the bouffant, and the longer-lasting beehive was a timesaver. Women could sleep with their hive in a scarf, smooth away the loose strands in the morning, and be ready to go. Heldt's only advice to her customers was to warn their husbands to keep those hands out of the hair during romantic moments [source: Mannion].; accessed October 21, 2022.

Image:; accessed October 21, 2022.


Go-Go Boots



Fashion boots were revived in the early 1960s by designers such as Beth Levine, although at first they featured fashionable high heels such as the stiletto and kitten heels.[11] Golo is probably best recognized for the invention of the go-go boot in 1964 [12] which was proudly worn by Barbra Streisand and photographed by Richard Avedon in the August 1965 issue of Vogue. The earliest go-go boots were mid-calf, white and flat-heeled, as seen in the work of the designer André Courrèges, who is sometimes credited with creating the style.[10][13] The simple minimalism of the Courrèges boot was easily and widely reproduced for the mass market.[1][4] Courrèges boots provided the foundation for the development of the go-go boot, which increasingly came higher up the leg and was made in alternative colours.[5][13] While remaining low-ish, the heel also became higher and chunkier.[5] The earliest Courrèges boots were made of leather, such as kidskin or patent leather,[4] but many of the subsequent versions and copies were made in PVC, vinyl, and other plastics.[10]

Go-go boots as worn in London in 1969/1970

In 1966, the song "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'" was released and performed by a go-go boot wearing Nancy Sinatra, who is credited with further popularising the boot.[13] Tim Gunn suggests that Sinatra helped establish the boot as "a symbol of female power".[14] Female dancers on the television shows Hullabaloo and Shindig! also wore the short, white boots.[15] This led to the boots sometimes being called 'hullabaloo boots,' as in an advertisement run in American newspapers in January 1966 for hullabaloo boots with "kooky heels and zipper backs" for the "Go-Go Getter".[16]; accessed October 21, 2022.

Bell bottoms



Bell bottoms, also known as flares -- what was up with that? The pants, often jeans, that flare out below the knee are one of the less redeemable fashion trends of the late '60s and the '70s. Everybody wore them, particularly musicians and actors when they weren't in costume. But today, you couldn't get arrested in bell-bottoms. What is the story behind this strange style of legwear, the facts behind its sudden popularity and its downfall? 

Bell-bottom jeans made ubiquitous fashion waves in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Everyone from disco dancers to Sonny and Cher made the flared out jeans a must-have item. In the Groovy era, you couldn’t walk half a block before seeing a pair of wide-legged, bell-bottom jeans sashaying their way around town. Despite hitting it big in the days of hippies and pet rocks, bell-bottoms actually date to the 17th century.

As far back as the early 1600s, sailors wore flared out pants -- not for fashion, but function. Pants that were wider below the knee could be rolled up more easily while working. Also, if a sailor fell overboard, the wide legs inflated more effectively to use as a life preserver. They also could be taken off quickly. The youth of the free love era appreciated that.

In the ‘60 and ‘70s, the young famously rebelled at just about everything their parents valued. Long hair, bright flamboyant colors, and sexual liberation all came in defiance of the status quo. Bell-bottoms were a part of that opposition. Young people rejected traditional, more expensive clothing options and began shopping at second hand stores and thrift shops. Surplus Navy bell-bottoms just so happened to be in the right place at the right time to make a huge impact on millions of insubordinate young people. 

In one of the largest fads to ever monopolize fashion, bell-bottoms became not just popular but an absolute must-have item for anyone avoiding being labeled a “square.” For adolescents, bell-bottoms fit in with the anti-war sentiment. For them, subverting what was a military clothing item and turning it into a symbol for peace, love, and marijuana, what could be more apt? Embroidering flowers on the jeans and old army jackets was just another loving twist of the blade for young people going against the system.; accessed October 21, 2022.

Image:; accessed October 21, 2022.

Peace Symbols


We're all familiar with the peace symbol -- but where did it come from? The instantly recognizable circular motif, with lines inside it that look a little like a bird's footprint, that we call the peace symbol or peace sign, has been ubiquitous since the 1960s, on patches, flags, posters or t-shirts meant to convey a message of harmony, understanding, and non-violence. 

Humans have always advocated for peace -- while it may be human nature to quarrel and wage war, it is also, surely, human nature to make amends and get along. Over the centuries, numerous emblems for peace (defined as "a state of mutual harmony between people or groups, especially in personal relations") have become commonplace: an olive branch, a dove, a white rose or poppy, a broken rifle and the “V” are all universal signs symbolic of peace. We've also got countless expressions to convey peace: bury the hatchet, turn the other cheek, make love not war. But the simplest and most universal sign of peace is this strange round glyph that everyone seems to recognize. Where the peace symbol came from is less well known.

Throughout the counterculture era, protests were a common and effective way to shed light on a specific cause. Political, social, and civil rights marches and protests were rampant the U.S. in the '60s and '70s. People from all walks of life, no matter what the cause, were displaying the iconic peace symbol during these displays. It seemed that no matter what issue the protestors were plugging, peace seemed to be a common goal.

The peace sign or symbol originated in Britain. A graphic artist named Gerald Holtom designed the now famous symbol in February 1958. It was to be used to symbolize an aversion to and a protest of nuclear arms. The peace sign made its debut on April 4, 1958, at a rally sponsored by the Direct Action Committee Against Nuclear War. Signs featuring this iconic symbol were mass produced and held aloft on sticks for a 52-mile march from London to Aldermaston. Britain had come to associate the peace sign with that particular campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.; accessed October 21, 2022.

Image:; accessed October 21, 2022.

Tie-Dye T-shirts


Tie-dyeing was known in the US by 1909, when Professor Charles E. Pellow of Columbia University acquired some samples of tie-dyed muslin and subsequently gave a lecture and live demonstration of the technique.[15]

Although shibori and batik techniques were used occasionally in Western fashion before the 1960s, modern psychedelic tie-dyeing did not become a fad until the late 1960s following the example set by rock stars such as Janis Joplin and John Sebastian (who did his own dyeing).[16] The 2011 film documentary Magic Trip, which shows amateur film footage taken during the 1964 cross-country bus journey of countercultural icon Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters, shows the travelers developing a form of tie-dye by taking LSD beside a pond and pouring enamel-based model airplane paint into it, before placing a white T-shirt upon the surface of the water. Although the process is closer to paper marbling, in the accompanying narrative, the travelers claim credit for inventing tie-dyeing.[17]

Tie-dyeing, particularly after the introduction of affordable Rit dyes, became popular as a cheap and accessible way to customize inexpensive T-shirts, singlets, dresses, jeans, army surplus clothing, and other garments into psychedelic creations.[14][16] Some of the leading names in tie-dye at this time were Water Baby Dye Works (run by Ann Thomas and Maureen Mubeem), Bert Bliss, and Up Tied, the latter winning a Coty Award for "major creativity in fabrics" in 1970.[16][18][19] Up Tied created tie-dyed velvets and silk chiffons which were used for exclusive one-of-a-kind garments by Halston, Donald Brooks, and Gayle Kirkpatrick,[16] whilst another tie-dyer, Smooth Tooth Inc., dyed garments for Dior and Jonathan Logan.[14] In late 1960s London, Gordon Deighton created tie-dyed shirts and trousers for young fashionable men which he sold through the Simpsons of Piccadilly department store in London.[20]; accessed October 26, 2022.

Image:; accessed October 26, 2022.




“Nappy,” “woolly” and “unruly” are only some of the unflattering adjectives that have been used to describe Black hair during and post slavery.

In the 1960s, Black folks finally said, “To hell with that!” After decades of subjecting ourselves to European beauty standards, we decided to take back our hair. This newfound self-acceptance was widely known as the Black Is Beautiful movement, which sprang from the Black Power movement.

With political activists such as Angela Davis, Huey P. Newton and Jesse Jackson proudly rocking Afros while fighting oppression, the hairstyle quickly emerged as a symbol for Black beauty, liberation and pride.

“Black activists were agitated with White supremacy and Jim Crow laws, and they wanted to show an outward sign of their frustration toward Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s nonviolent philosophy,” explains Chad Dion Lassiter, president of the Black Men at Penn School of Social Work, Inc. at the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy and Practice. “The Afro was Black beauty personified without White validation, and it did not care about critics. For many Black men, it was about cool pose and hyper-masculinity in the face of police brutality and constant oppression.”; accessed October 21, 2022.

Image:; accessed October 21, 2022.



The manager of an unnamed shop in London's Oxford Street began experimenting in 1960 with skirt hemlines an inch above the knees of window mannequins, and noted how positively his customers responded.[18] In August 1961, Life published a photograph of two Seattle students at the University of Hawaiʻi wearing above-the-knee garments called "kookie-muus" (an abbreviated version of the traditionally concealing muumuu), and noted a "current teen-age fad for short skirts" that was pushing hemlines well above the knee.[19] The article also showed young fashionable girls in San Francisco wearing hemlines "just above the kneecap" and students at Vanderbilt University wearing "knee ticklers" ending three inches above their knee to play golf in, while the caption commented that such short skirts were selling well in the South, and that "some Atlanta girls" were cutting old skirts to "thigh high" lengths.[19]

Extremely short skirts, some as much as eight inches above the knee, were observed in Britain in the summer of 1962.[20] The young women who wore these short skirts were called "Ya-Ya girls", a term derived from "yeah, yeah" which was a popular catcall at the time.[20] One retailer noted that the fashion for layered net crinoline petticoats raised the hems of short skirts even higher.[20] The earliest known reference to the miniskirt is in a humorous 1962 article datelined Mexico City and describing the "mini-skirt" or "Ya-Ya" as a controversial item of clothing that was the latest thing on the production line there. The article characterised the miniskirt as stopping eight inches above the knee. It referred to a writing by a psychiatrist, whose name it did not provide, who had argued that the miniskirt was a youthful protest of international threats to peace. Much of the article described the reactions of men, who were said to favour the fashion on young women to whom they were unrelated, but to oppose it on their own wives and fiancées.[21]

Only a very few of the avant-garde, almost entirely in the UK, wore such lengths in the beginning years of the decade, however.[22][23] The standard hemline for public and designer garments in the early sixties was mid-knee, just covering the knee.[24] It would gradually climb upward over the next few years, fully baring the knees of mainstream models in 1964, when both André Courrèges[25] and Mary Quant[26][27] showed above-the-knee lengths. The following year, skirts continued to rise as British miniskirts were officially introduced to the US in a New York show whose models' thigh-high skirts stopped traffic.[28] By 1966, many designs had the hem at the upper thigh.[29] Stockings with suspenders (American English: "garters") were not considered practical with miniskirts and were replaced with coloured tights.[30][31] Legs could also be covered with knee-high socks[32] or various heights of boots, lower-calf height in 1964-65,[33] knee-heights throughout the period, over-the-knee and thigh-high boots more 1967-69,[34][35] and even boot-hose, tights incorporating a shoe sole and heel to form a waist-high boot, often in stretch vinyl. Sandal straps might crisscross or otherwise rise up the leg,[36] even as high as the thigh, and body paints were offered for a time to add colour to the leg in more individualised ways than wearing tights. Towards the end of the 1960s, an even shorter version, called the microskirt or micro-mini, emerged.[37][38]

The English girl band the Paper Dolls at Schiphol Airport in 1968

The shape of miniskirts in the 1960s was distinctive. They were not the squeezingly tight skirts designed to show off every curve that 1950s sheath skirts had been, nor were they shortened versions of the tightly belted, petticoat-bolstered 1950s circle skirt. In the 1990s and later, you would occasionally see exhibitions on the sixties present vintage miniskirts pulled in tight against gallery mannequins, but sixties miniskirts were not worn that way. They were not worn tight. Sixties miniskirts were simply-constructed, uninhibiting, slightly flared A-line shapes, with some straight and tapered forms seen in the early years of their existence.[39] This shape was seen as deriving from two forms of the 1950s: (1) the chemise dress/sack dress,[40] attributed to Givenchy in 1957[41][42] but presaged by Karl Lagerfeld in 1954[43] and Mary Quant in 1956,[44] a waistless, tapered column that became the shift dress in the early sixties when it began to be made straight or slightly flared rather than tapered,[45][46][47] and (2) the trapeze dresses popularized by Yves Saint Laurent in 1958[48] that were a variation of Dior's 1955 A-line,[49][50][51] both of a geometric triangular shaping. In silhouette, the minidresses of the mid-1960s were basically abbreviated versions[52] of the shift dress and trapeze dress,[53][54] with Paco Rabanne's famous metal and plastic minidresses of 1966 and '67 following the trapeze line and most of Rudi Gernreich's following the shift line. Mary Quant and other British designers, as well as Betsey Johnson in the US, also showed minidresses that resembled elongated rugby jerseys, body-skimming but not tight. When skirts alone, they tended to sit on the hips rather than holding the waist, called hipster minis if they were really low on the hips. The fashionable forms of the microminis of the later 1960s were also not tight, often looking somewhat tunic-like[55] and in fabrics like Qiana.

In addition, sixties miniskirts were not worn with high heels but with flats or low heels,[56][57][58][59] for a natural stance, a natural stride, and to enhance the fashionable child-like look of the time,[60][61][62][63] seen as a reaction to 1950s come-hither artifice like needle heels, constrained waists, padded busts, and movement-inhibiting skirts. The designer Mary Quant was quoted as saying that "short short skirts" indicated youthfulness, which was seen as desirable, fashion-wise.[20]

In the UK, by shortening the skirts to less than 24 inches (610 mm) they were classed as children's garments rather than adult clothes. Children's clothing was not subject to purchase tax whereas adult clothing was.[64] The avoidance of tax meant that the price was correspondingly less.[65][66]

During the late 1960s, as most skirts got shorter and shorter,[67] designers began presenting a few alternatives.[68][69] Calf-length midi-skirts were introduced in 1966-67,[70] and floor-length maxi-skirts appeared around the same time,[71] after being seen on hippies first around 1965-66. Like with miniskirts, these were overwhelmingly casual in feel and simply constructed to a two-straight-side-seams A-line shape. Women in the late sixties welcomed these new styles as options but didn't necessarily wear them, feeling societal pressure to shorten their skirts instead.[72][73]

(Decades later, starting in the late nineties, the term midi-skirt would be expanded to refer to any calf-length skirt from any era, including skirts of that length from the 1930s, 1950s, and 1980s of any shape,[74] and the term maxi-skirt would be expanded to apply to any floor-length skirt from any era, including ballgowns, but that was not the case during a period from the late 1960s to the 1980s, when the term midi-skirt only applied to casual, simply-cut A-line calf-length skirts of the late sixties and earliest seventies and the term maxi-skirt only applied to casual, simply-cut A-line floor-length skirts of the late sixties and earliest seventies. Even the full, calf-length skirts worn from the mid-seventies to the early eighties were not called midi-skirts at the time,[75][76] as that was by 1974 considered a passė term restricted only to a specific shape of skirt from the late sixties and earliest seventies.)

As designers attempted to require women to switch to midi-skirts in 1969 and 1970, women responded by ignoring them,[77] continuing to wear minis and microminis[78] and, even more, turning to trousers[79] like those endorsed by Yves Saint Laurent in 1968, a trend that would dominate the 1970s.; accessed October 21, 2022.

First Image:; accessed October 21, 2022.

Lava lamps


At a certain moment in the late 1960s, the lava lamp came to symbolize all things countercultural and psychedelic—although, as you might expect, those who basked in its lurid glow sometimes had trouble recalling exactly why. It’s like asking, “Why did we like Jackson Pollock?” says Wavy Gravy, the longtime peace activist and Grateful Dead sidekick. “Because it was amazing! It causes synapses in your brain to loosen up.”

The mesmerizing light fixture, which turns 50 this year, has risen and sunk and shifted its shape in the cultural consciousness for decades. The lamp was invented by Edward Craven Walker, a British accountant whose other claim to fame was making underwater nudist films. He was passing the time in a pub when he noticed a homemade egg timer crafted from a cocktail shaker filled with alien-looking liquids bubbling on a stove top.

Determined to perfect the design, and to install a light bulb as the heat source, he settled on a bottle used for Orange Squash, “a revolting drink we had in England growing up,” according to Cressida Granger, who today owns Mathmos, the successor to Craven Walker’s original company, Crestworth Ltd. Craven Walker’s lamp paired two mutually insoluble liquids: one water-based, the other wax-based. The exact recipe is a proprietary secret, but a key ingredient is the solvent carbon tetrachloride, which adds weight to the otherwise buoyant wax. The heat source at the bottom of the lamp liquefies the waxy blob. As it expands, its density decreases and it rises to the top—where it cools, congeals and begins to sink back down. By the end of the decade, Craven Walker’s company was manufacturing millions of “Astro Lamps,” as he called them, per year. In 1965, he sold the U.S. manufacturing rights to a company called Lava Lite.

Craven Walker didn’t envision the lamps as paragons of grooviness. “They weren’t marketed like that—they were almost staid,” Granger says. Indeed, an ad in a 1968 edition of the American Bar Association Journal touted the “executive” model—mounted on a walnut base alongside a ballpoint pen.

As light fixtures go, the lamps are peculiar in that they don’t cast much light. They appeal to people at ease in darkness. Rather than illumination, the purpose of lava lamps is “to create mood,” says Stephen Horner, who teaches lighting design at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. The fixture’s dynamic interior, he says, harkens back to one of our most ancient forms of amusement: the flickering hearth. Yet the sleek, rocket-like exterior was perfectly pitched to the space age.

Tastes changed and the lava lamp craze cooled by the late 1970s. In 1989, when Granger met the then-septuagenarian Craven Walker at a nudist camp (both were clothed, at her request) to discuss her interest in buying Crestworth, it was manufacturing only about 1,000 lights per year. But amid the Austin Powers-fueled nostalgia of the 1990s, the public again warmed to the lamps, and in 2000 Mathmos sold some 800,000. The U.S.-based Lava Lite supplies millions per year to retailers such as Target and Wal-Mart.; accessed October 21, 2022.

Image:; accessed October 21, 2022.