An entertaining way to study the fashions of any particular year is to watch its movies. Lately I’ve been thinking about the early to mid 1960s so I decided to revisit some of the films from my childhood. The Beach Party movies sprang to mind, and since it is winter, I settled on Ski Party, released in 1965 and staring Frankie Avalon and the gang.
Talk about suffering for fashion! Thirty minutes into watching it I was wondering why I had loved it so much. Then Frankie answered my question when he stated that the average age of a viewer of the movie was probably 15. That’s right; in the movie he made such a statement; one of cheesiest things about it was how the actors never let the viewer forget this was a movie. This included the trick of actually turning and speaking to the audience.
So it was at that point I gave up on the plot and and just concentrated on the task at hand – studying the ski clothes. That was doable and actually quite enjoyable. The studio photo above shows just how cute they all were, and that continued throughout the film. (By the way, the photo came from the estate of actress Deborah Walley, far right, and is for sale by Book Shack. Photo copyright and courtesy of Book Shack at etsy)
Sweater for sale by Vintage Devotion. Photo copyright and courtesy of Vintage Devotion
So, what was big in skiwear in 1965? The big, over-sized sweater was tops. Those girls loved mohair, but by this time they were increasingly being made in acrylic. The necklines ranged from deep V shapes to the rolled collar bateau above. The sweaters were hip length and cut straight across with a loose band, or sometimes no band at all. Just a few years ago these were very common in thrift stores, probably because the acrylic seemed to never wear out. They, like most other things from the 60s, are rarer now. When I run across one in wool or mohair, I usually buy it for myself. This mohair one is from Jantzen.
Beneath the sweater were turtlenecks, and the pants were the infamous 1960s stretch nylon stirrup pants. If you had perfect legs, they looked very, very good, and if you didn’t, the pants revealed every bump and bulge. Interestingly, these are quite hard to locate today, as all the long-legged thin women wore theirs out, and everyone else threw theirs away…
In the studio photo, the girls are both wearing faux fur hats. These were very popular, and I can remember getting one around 1964. Another headwear option was the hooded sweater. These could be worn alone, or layered under another sweater the way Audrey Hepburn did it in the opening scene of Charade. Here’s one from Germany.
Take my advice, skip Ski Party unless you have a house full of 9 year olds, and even they might roll their jaded eyes at the corny-ness of it. Instead, go straight to Charade, which is exactly what I’ll be doing this snowy evening.
And see this post for more about the history of ski clothing.