Mary Quant and the Mini Skirt

Today, the spirit of Mary Quant can be found in almost every affordable clothing store. Her style continues to inspire modern designers, who still sell their updated versions of the same garments she popularized more than 50 years ago. Quant was the driving force behind this revival. In her 1989 book "The Self-Centred Age", she stated that society had grown self-obsessed and materialistic. As a result, there was a need for people to adopt an attitude that was less concerned with status and appearance and more focused on personal values and ethics. In many ways, Mary Quant’s life echoed this sentiment with its emphasis on style over substance. Born in 1934 as Thelma Mary Letitia Qualvogel in Zurich, Switzerland to English parents, Quant left home at 15 after her mother died from pneumonia. She trained as a milliner (a maker of hats), but moved from job to job searching for something that inspired her.

Mary Quant and the birth of the Mini Skirt

While Quant is often credited with creating the Mini Skirt, she actually played a smaller role in its creation. Her most famous garment was actually inspired by the growing popularity of micro skirts, which were very short skirts that extended only as far as the thighs. By the mid-1960s, the microskirt was in vogue as it was a novel idea to wear something shorter than what was socially acceptable. However, it was also considered indecent and inappropriate for public wear. Quant decided to take the micro skirt a step further and create a shorter garment that would be considered scandalous in its own right. She reasoned that if the public was going to be scandalized by shorter skirts, then they might as well go all the way and create a garment that was shorter than the microskirt.

The Rise of Ready-to-Wear Fashion

People in the 1950s were mostly concerned with looking fashionable, but they did so by sewing their own garments or getting them tailor-made by an atelier. Ready-to-wear, which means garments that are manufactured in bulk and sold already made, was a rarity. Quant’s big idea was that she would sell garments that were already made and ready to wear. Her garments would be ready to wear (instead of needing alterations) and they would cost only a fraction of the price of tailor-made garments. By the mid-1950s, Quant was already designing and selling ready-to-wear garments. She was one of the first to do so, and her garments were an immediate success. Stores like Marks and Spencer began selling her garments and, as a result, many socialites began to wear Quant’s style. These socialites were, in turn, photographed wearing Quant’s designs, which only helped to increase her popularity.

The Rise of the Mini Skirt

Quant’s designs tended to be bold and colorful, with a focus on mini dresses, mini skirts and other garments that were shorter than what was traditional for that time period. Quant’s garments helped to further the rise of the mini skirt, which was initially inspired by the growing popularity of micro skirts. Quant’s mini-dresses and mini skirts were far shorter than anything that had been worn before. While there had always been short skirts, Quant’s garments were far shorter than the hemlines of the time. Quant’s garments were not only shorter they were also tighter and fitted, so they showed off a lot of skin.

The End of an Era

Quant’s style was always intended to be a passing fad, but its popularity proved to be stronger than anyone could foresee. Quant was a designer who always looked to the next trend and tried to stay ahead of the curve. In the 1960s, she sensed that her style was growing stale. She wanted to change the focus of her garments to something more thoughtful and serious. In 1965, she released a line of garments that included long and flowing skirts and muted colors. This was done in an attempt to get away from the loud, bold and flamboyant styles that were so popular at the time. However, her new designs were not well received by her customers. Quant’s customers wanted something more attention-grabbing, bolder, and more flamboyant. They wanted something that would draw attention to themselves, and they weren’t interested in more reserved and demure styles.

Final Thoughts

Quant’s legacy is that she helped to bring fashion to the masses. In the past, only the rich could afford to tailor their garments or purchase custom-made clothing. By creating ready-to-wear garments and selling them at a low price, she opened up the world of fashion to the working classes. Quant’s style proved to be so popular that it spawned an entire generation of designers who adopted a similar aesthetic – designers like Mary Honniball, Anne Hardy and Barbara Hulanicki. These designers helped to popularize the mini Skirt and the use of bold colors, short hemlines, and flamboyant silhouettes. The style that these designers helped to popularize is often referred to as Swinging London fashion.