Pop Stars of the 1950s & 1960s Costume Ideas

Back in the fifties and sixties the pop charts were still in their infancy, so there was not such a great opportunity to dress up as your favourite star. This is particularly because many of the male stars and groups of the time could often be seen dressing similarly in standard black or coloured suits. So, finding costumes for a particular star or group may be more about the look of the period, which was primarily focused on the rock and roll images of the teen and beat generation, rather than specific outfits.

However, there were some performers who did start to cultivate a distinctive image. This included the Beatles, who had their grey Nehru suits specifically designed for them during the early years of their popularity.

For some stars of this era it may be more about the hair. The classic pudding basin shape was very much ‘in’ with groups such as the Beatles, whilst singer Dusty Springfield was very much about the blonde beehive and Cilla Black sported a bright red bob.

Here are a few suggestions for 1950s and 1960 characters you can choose from, or if you have your own ideas why not see if we can help?

The Beatles - Classic popular choice. For the early years, the grey Nehru suits and Beatles wig is all that’s required.  Our 1960′s Pop Star costume is ideal to use as a Beatles costume. Alternatively, the fab four’s colourful military style outfits for the Sergeant Pepper look from later years. The props may be a bit difficult to come by but John Lennon is in yellow and carries a French Horn; Ringo Starr, who is in pink, carries a trumpet; Paul McCartney, in blue, has a cor anglais whilst George Harrison, wearing red, has a piccolo. There are only two Beatles that have hats, these are Ringo and George. For other ideas from the Sgt Pepper album cover check out our 1960s decades pages.

Bill Haley and his comets – Either wore plain coloured or check jackets of the era.

Buddy Holly – Trademark black rim glasses (Austin Powers style); skinny black tie and loud check ‘Teddy Boy’ style jacket.

Cilla Black – 1960s A-line shift dresses & red bob wig.

Dusty Springfield – Initially with The Springfields, Dusty cultivated a successful solo career with a distinctive look, involving a blonde beehive hairdo and black ‘panda’ eye-make-up. Black eyelashes are a must!

Elvis Presley – During the 1960s, the GI look or Gold Lamé Jacket was popular.  Elvis spent much of the time making movies which showcased his songs, and allowed him to play some interesting professionals: These included:-

Jimi HendrixAmerican guitarist who found greater fame in the UK and, with his afro and military-style jackets, had a unique image.

Lulu Sixties Dress or Hot pants with knee length lace up white boots and sixties beehive or flick out wig.

The Monkees – Was originally a TV series about an American group who wanted to be like the Beatles, but they became a popular group in their own right in the mid to late 1960s. Lead singer was Englishman Davy Jones. Other members of the group were Americans Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith and Peter Tork. Coloured mid-late sixties style shirts. Michael Nesmith also sported a knitted bobble or beanie hat. Or for a play on words, why not go in Monkey costumes!

Rolling StonesFormed in the 1960s and still going strong.  Wear sixties style shirts and tight trousers. 

Sandie Shaw – Married fashion designer Jeff Banks. Mainly short or long sixties ‘fashionable’ dress, dark cheerleader wig. Most famous for going barefoot whilst singing.

Sonny & Cher – At the time a husband and wife duo who successfully integrated a hippy-style look into their act, without going overtly flower-power.

  • Sonny wear an afghan waistcoat and jeans, plus a Beatles style wig.
  • Cher – Loose blouse, pre-70s flared trousers and a long black wig.

Supremes – The ultimate 1960s all girl group.  Showcased Diana Ross who went on to a successful solo career, other two members were Mary Wilson and Florence Ballard. Cindy Birdsong was later to replace Florence Ballard when it became Diana Ross and the Supremes.  The main look was all the same 1960s costume, with black short beehive wig.

Tom Jones – Tight trousers, open shirt, trademark black short curly hair (in the sixties).

1960s Fashion

FASHION OF THE 1960s

When it comes to fashion, ‘Decades’ do not tend to fit in nice ten-year segments. Costumes from the late 1950s such as Teddy Boys and Girls, were also seen in the early 1960s. At the other end of the decade, many costumes and accessories which work for the late 1960s can also feature for a 1970s themes.

The 1960s was all about youth culture. The baby boom generation meant there were more young people with disposable incomes and increasingly these people were choosing not to ‘dress like their parents’ but find their own style. Fashion was one of the major influences on the decade. The main looks to come out of the 1960s were:-

BeatnikBlack berets, slacks, dark glasses & sandals.

Dolly BirdMixing influences from several sources, the typical dolly bird wore a mini-skirt & blouse (or mini-dress) with coloured/patterned tights and boots. If not going for the short cropped ‘Twiggy’ hairstyle, a ‘bubble-curl’ look was popular. Heavy and sometimes colourful make-up accentuated the eyes. Black eyelashes are a must and if you didn’t have the lashes yourself, false lashes for both top and bottom of the eye were becoming popular!

HippyAlthough the hippy ‘flower power’ movement supposedly started in San Francisco, the alternative lifestyle options also found favour over here. Props & Frocks stocks a wide range of Hippy costumes

Mini-dressIf the clothing designer Mary Quant did not invent the mini-dress/skirt, she certainly helped popularise it, particularly with the addition of matching opaque coloured tights, to protect the wearer’s modesty. She was also noted for her geometric-design ‘mod’ wear and helped popularise the shorter ‘bobbed’ hairstyle created by hairdresser Vidal Sassoon.

ModsItalian Suits became ‘the thing’ for the fashionable male to wear during the early to mid-1960s.

Op-ArtOp-art was all about the print, optical illusion and distortion of various geometric images. Black & white patterned clothing were popular examples.

Pop  ArtClothing became an art form during the 1960s, with a mixture of various factions coming together, such as fashion, op-art, music, film, etc.. Iconic images of the time were reflected in works by designers such as Yves Saint Lauren, whose ‘Mondrian’ day dress featured on the cover of Vogue and artists such as Andy Warhol.

Pseudo-MilitariaDedicated male followers of fashion discarded the ‘Mod’ fashions of earlier years to don pseudo-military jackets, coloured and ruffled shirts and wide ‘kipper’ ties in the latter part of the decade. Longer hair also became fashionable.

RockersThe antithesis of the scooter loving ‘Mod’, the rocker wore black leather clothing and rode a motorbike. Have a look at our Biker Costume

Teddy BoySmart-dressed youth gang rebels of the late 50s/early 60s. Teddy Boy outfits were based on Edwardian-style (hence ‘Teddy’ – shortened form of Edward) long jackets faced with velvet, skinny ‘drainpipe’ trousers and bootlace ties. A flick-comb was also essential to maintenance the quiff or duck-tail hair-style. 

Teddy GirlTeddy girls derived their style from the rock n rock full skirts with petticoats also seen in America, although some erred towards the ‘beatnik’ look of blouse and skirt or Capri pants. Props & Frocks stock a wide range of Teddy Girl costumes to buy or hire

FASHION HEROES OF THE 1960s

Andy WarholThe shock of blonde hair, dark clothing and large glasses says it all. Amongst his popart images, costumes are available for Marilyn Monroe and Campbell’s Soup Can.

Austin PowersA spoof fashion hero. A 1960s-style stereotype based on a secret agent, whose ‘cover’ was a fashion photographer. Mike Myers’ 1997 creation mixed elements of the James Bond spy trend with the David Hemmings character in the Swinging Sixties film ‘Blow-up’ (1966). We stock Austin Powers costumes to hire & purchase

David BaileyKey photographer in 1960s Britain, capturing images of the ‘stars’ of the period, particularly with regard to fashion. Many think he was the inspiration for the David Hemmings character in ‘Blow-up’.

Jean Shrimpton‘The Shrimp’ epitomised the gamine style of the era.

TwiggySo called because of her thin, waif-like look, the model Twiggy was a leading style icon of the Sixties. Her short, ‘gamine’ hairstyle (echoing a style popularised by Audrey Hepburn in the 50s), eye make-up based around heavy use of false lashes, and androgynous dress-style was copied by many.  

Bunny GirlThe Playboy Club with its costumed ‘bunny’ waitresses arrived in 1962. The Bunny Girl outfit involved a strapless bodice, so a special manoeuvre, the ‘bunny dip’, was necessary when serving drinks.

England FootballerEngland footballers of the 1960s wore a red & white strip. The team’s World Cup win in 1966 helped boost the game’s popularity.

1960s Costume Ideas

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1960s Costume Ideas

Because ‘decades’ do not sit in nice ten-year segments, many of the costumes and accessories that work for the 1960s, can also feature in the early 1970s. Of course, rising trends of the late 1950s developed and/or evolved during the 1960s.

The early part of the decade saw the continued influence of American music styles based on Rock n Roll and Jazz. Equally strong, however were the UK ‘home-grown’ genres such as Skiffle. Britain’s own take on rock ‘n’ roll would later evolve into the unique sound often known as ‘Mersey Beat’ but in fact featuring musicians from many other cities, each with an individual style.

The late 1950s had seen the growth of social rebellion amongst the young, fuelled by young adults with a disposable income and disinclination to dress like their parents. As the 1960s progressed fashion became both colourful and daring as skirts became shorter to reveal the existence of legs and males embraced a more unconventional style of dress, from pseudo militaria to flower-power.

The evolution of television, with more channels (and in colour) and the outbreak of pirate radio, following the lead of Radio Luxembourg and breaking the BBC stranglehold on listening habits, also helped promote the social upheavals of the Sixties.

We have tried to split the 60s down into different sections (see list on the left navigation) to provide you with lots of Sixties costume inspiration…