Continuing the trend begun in the latter part of 1963, women's fashions in 1964 moved still further away from the straight lines and extreme tailoring of "tough chic" to ever greater fullness, softness, and feminine detail. Some startling innovations also made fashion headlines, including the highly influential discotheque phenomenon, the short-lived topless bathing suit and transparent evening gown, and the more potent concepts of pants, culottes, and one-piece jumpsuits.
The Couture. As in 1963, Paris couture houses continued to experience further declines in business volume. Despite financial setbacks, however, Paris managed to maintain its position as a prime source of important fashion ideas. Yves St. Laurent made dress news with his tiers and tunics, while Cristobal Balenciaga, who also featured tunics, successfully re-introduced the dolman sleeve and the wraparound closing in coats and suits.
This was a year of fashion attention-getters characterized by originality and exuberance. The elegant pants costume, newly fashionable for evening wear, was a far cry from the mannish outfit popularized by Marlene Dietrich in the 1930's (inset). Most controversial garb of the season was the topless bathing suit, originally intended as a joke by California designer Rudi Gernreich. The reactions of shoppers ranged from shock to giggles. Textured stockings, introduced tentatively in the late 1950's, became a fashion sensation. The variety of patterns, as seen in the gaudy pin-wheel, included gossamer-sheer styles with painted flowers for evening wear, lacy designs for day and evening, and striped patterns for casual wear.
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How hemlines changed and the maxi vs the mini