1960s stretch pants helped make the world ready for leggings
Of course, the concept of stretchy fabrics in clothing was not entirely new. In the 1950s, the increasing popularity of sportswear and activewear led to the development of materials like the now-ubiquitous nylon, which has excellent stretch and flexibility.
During this time, there was also a growing interest in fashion that allowed for greater freedom of movement and comfort — like the popular pedal pushers or capri pants, which were shorter and looser versions of traditional trousers.
By the 1960s — when even the highest fashion evolved to be more daring, freeing and comfortable — the world was ready for the newest iteration of pants: stretch pants.
These slim-fitting pants (which were honestly just a breath away from modern leggings) were revolutionary for their time, hugging the body in what was considered a flattering and comfortable fit. Wearing 1960s stretch pants with the flat shoes (which were extremely trendy at the time), which further emphasized comfort and ease of movement as fashionable priorities.
1960s stretch pants: Something new in fashion for women (1961)
By Betty Kohlman – The Tampa Tribune (Florida) August 13, 1961
Stretch pants are the latest and one of the greatest boons to womanhood. And strangely enough, a lot of women don’t know it.
They avoid them like the plague. “Stretch pants!” they exclaim, aghast. “With MY figure?”
The truth of the matter is, stretch pants are GOOD for the figure — almost any figure, up to and including size 16.
To prove the point, we enlisted the aid of a Tampa fashion coordinator and a couple of Tampa women who consented to model this new variety of sportswear.
One was Mrs Harry Bloch, who wears a size 10 and would be generally expected to “get away” with stretch pants. The other was was Mrs Charles Dallier, a size 14, and admittedly a little plump around the hips and mid-section.
“I have never dared wear slacks or slim jims,” Mrs Dallier protested when confronted with the stretch pants. But she soon changed her mind.
Stretch pants are remarkable for molding a trim, clean-cut figure — if you get the right ones.
In the first place, they stretch only one way — down. Thus, made of elasticized fabric, they act as a girdle.
They are held down in place by straps under the feet, so they maintain a long, clean line with no objectionable clinging to the wrong places. However, they must fit each individual properly.
Not only are they available in misses and junior sizes, but they are proportioned, a very important factor.
When selecting stretch pants, first make sure they fit the waist and hips neatly and firmly, but without undue strain.
Then, the legs should be exactly the right length to hang in a straight line, but without too taut a pull. If they seem uncomfortably tight, longer ones are indicated. And contrarily, slack at the knee calls for shorter pants.
These fabulous stretch pants are appearing on the fall fashion market in a variety of fabrics, in solid colors and patterns, and often teamed with coordinated blouses and sweaters.
These Mr Thomson pants never need ironing (1960s)
Vintage 60s multicolored patterned form-fitting Pantino stretch pants (1961)
Non-existent pockets. Invisible zipper. Elasticized waistband. 5 to 15, 6 to 16. About $20. [And stirrups]
Old 1960s tight red and white houndstooth Pantino stretch pants (1961)
It’s a good day for Pantinos, isn’t it? One of those days that puts you in a mood. To do something. Go somewhere. Wear something great.
Like this: houndstooth stretch pants in wool and nylon with elasticized waistband. In proportioned lengths. Pantino, for girls who are.
Stretchy casual clothes from Catalina (1961)
Jack Winter 1960s stretch pants (1961)
Shire-Tex by Davenshire lined wool stretch pants (1963)
Stretch pants that are slim, sleek and comfortable are sweeping the US
The Sacramento Bee (California) July 25, 1963
Stretch pants are showing up everywhere today in a vertical long stemmed purled look with a footstrap under the arch. This look is sweeping the country.
The art of “girl watching” has left the ski slope and today will find new members of that fraternity even on city streets.
Designers are helping to keep the stretch pant at the hearthside as well as putting it on the complete sporting scene.
One well-known pant designer has brought size 20 back onto the cutting boards. Because there is less fabric and more give, stretch pants have a quota of optical illusion.
Juniors know what fabulous things stretch pants do for them, properly fitted to look slim, sleek, comfortable and conformable.
The leg is cut a shade wider the fabric skirts the calf. It bends with the knees and gives with the thighs, all for easy, feminine fit.
Stretch pants also solve the pant length and the ankle fit problems. Proportioned pants as designed by Jack Winter take no back seat, because the fabric stretches.
Proportioned stretch assures a proper and perfect fit. All three lengths are there with no compromising on inches.
If the proportions are reduced, the fit will be wrong and the fabric will have too much strain to hold up.
As a fabric ingredient, stretch has a tremendous future for all markets and the fabrics are being cut in tops, in shorts and in horizontal stretch pants.
Spandex retro Mr Thomson stretch pants in hot pink (1963)
Retro Mr Thomson stretch pants in yellow (1963)
60s Sportmaker separates – Sweaters and stretch pants (1964)
Vintage Mr Thomson stirrup stretch pants in red (1963)
Slim stretch pants from ’64
Christenfeld Convertibles 1960s stretch pants with and without stirrups (1964)
Detachable boot strap – Snaps on, snaps off in seconds to make these the most versatile stretch pants ever.
Fashionable stretch pants for women from the sixties (1964)
Sears 2-way stretch pants styles from 1964
1960s Frontier Lee Stretch Denims by Lee (1964)
Spandex pants from Sears (1965)
The addition of Lycra Spandex in a wonderful twill fabric (57% Dacron polyester, 31% cotton, 12% Lycra Spandex) lets these horizontal Stretch Pants really stretch . . assures their recovery for trim, good looks that really last.
Even at this price of $6.90 a pair, we’ve fashioned these with flat-pressed seams, man-tailored zipper front closure, and 6 waist darts for the clean line and silhouette so prized in this popular casual.
Proportioned vertical stretch pants (1965)
Super slim-fit 1960s stretch pants on slender woman (1965)
Stretch knit pants – Horizontal and two-way (1965)
Plaid retro stretch pants in red, black and white (1967)
Vintage polyester stretch pants at Sears (1967)