Scotland’s fashion zeitgeist from 60s to 00s

A model wearing a trouser duit at a fashion show held in Jenners in Edinburgh
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Much like a zeitgeist, fashion can also be used to define a particular spirit of the time.

We look back at Scotland’s fashion zeitgeist from the swinging sixties to the nineties


Women's fashion from June 1966 - a sleeveless trouser suit.

Known as the swinging sixties, the decade saw a new kind of prosperity, mostly notably among the working classes and young people. This allowed them to express their own attitudes and tastes through the medium of fashion.

Money was spent on records and clothes, each influencing the other.

The most prominent fashion zeitgeist in the sixties was the hippie culture. The movement was founded on the distaste of commercial clothing and the want for more ethnic items. Youth who were involved in hippie fashion, wore homemade and vintage garments that they could customise and give a unique look as they wished to be recognised as individuals - separate from mainstream cultures.

Clothes were customised with embroidery and patch work, they were colourful and mismatched and went against all the other fashions that had gone before.

Unidentified model wearing black leggings, one of the Nineties' most popular fashions, July 1992

Designers like Mary Quantas combined bright, jarring colours and conflicting patterns. Of course, the era also led to the popularity of the mini-skirt alongside the changing domestic roles for women.

Being mad about Saffron and electrical bananas made Donovan a 1960s icon in Scotland. With songs such as ‘Colours’ and ‘Catch the Wind’, Mr ‘Mellow Yellow’ was the country’s very own star of the flower power era.

By the late sixties, the summer of love saw an increase in the androgyny style with long hair and denim jeans worn by both sexes, often making them indistinguishable.

The decade was one of the most vibrant and radical eras in twentieth century history.

Lyn Scott modelling hot pants outside a new boutique in Rose Street Edinburgh in March 1971

READ MORE: Who are Scotland’s most important fashion designers?


As a reflection of the economic struggles and high levels of unemployment among young people, a rebellion began to take hold. There was uncertainty of the position of the sexes in the midst of women’s liberation. Retro was a common theme in the fashion. Women wore 1940s eyeliner and platform shoes. Their style was flamboyant and decorated with disco garments such as flares, feather trim and sequins. Scottish popstar Lulu was right at the heart of it with her trademark mini-skirt and striking eye make-up.

The late seventies saw frustration being reflected in fashion through the punk movement. Punk clothing was usually tattered and ripped, defiled with obscenities, covered in pins and badges. Youngsters would use bleach and dyes to give their clothes a distressed look and decorate them with metal trims.

Jacqui Phillips dressed in herjumpsuit in Buster Brown's disco in Edinurgh, September 1979.


The eighties were defined by the flashy aesthetic. The phrase “gender-bender” was widely used. Power dressing was for women and make-up was for men, the bigger the shoulder pad - the better, and if you didn’t have a Duran Duran style bouffant you weren’t doing it right. In the early years of Eurythmics, Annie Lennox’s vivid red crop and man’s tailored suit - as seen in the ‘Sweet Dreams’ video - defined an era.

The suave dinner suit was replaced by rolled up sleeves, pastel-coloured shirts or some kind of branded t-shirt. Women continued to embrace the mini skirt, statement earrings and perms in the style of Margaret Thatcher and Madonna.

One of the greatest Scottish fashion icons of the time David Byrne, best-known as the leader of Talking Heads, trademarked the massively oversized suit during the 1980s.

Scottish brand Pringle was a popular item during the time as it experienced a revival in the 1980s and 1990s as the affinity with sport and leisure became popular once again, with the label sponsoring top golfers of the time, including Colin Montgomerie and Nick Faldo.


The third wave of feminism in the late nineties saw the rise of the grunge fashion movement. Women twisted preconceptions of femininity by wearing feminine dresses and oversized flannel shirts as contrast. Many people rejected the designer led materialistic movement of the eighties and began to source their clothes from thrift shops.

Flannel and boho-hobo were staples of second-hand clothes. The idea was a non-fashion statement, and completely opposed the flashiness of the 80s. Sharleen Spiteri, front woman of rock band Texas, became an icon throughout the late eighties and nineties for her tomboy-ish and androgynous looks. She and Shirley Manson’s appearances rejected the stereotypical popstar looks that were popular at the time.

The mid- nineties saw the term “metrosexual” being coined in response to the rise of male vanity. While some men began to care more about their appearance, other embraced a different side of fashion inspired by the rave culture. Their outfits were usually loose fitted, baggy and multicoloured.

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