What Was Swinging London? Mods, Miniskirts & Music In '60s England

By Jacob Shelton
Left: Michael Caine during the filming of 'Alfie,' a promotional image from the 2017 documentary 'My Generation.' Right: Pete Townshend of The Who sporting a Union Jack blazer in 1966. Sources: IMDB; Chris Morphet/Redferns/Getty

The Swinging Sixties in London was more than just The Beatles and people saying (in that Austin Powers voice), “groovy, baby.” Swinging London represented a change in attitude and art that brought England to the forefront of culture and fashion in the 20th century. After a decade of post-war austerity, the youth of London were ready to party, and party they did. The dress code was sharp and sexy for the models and rock stars who defined the scene, icons like Twiggy, Jean Shrimpton, The Who and the Small Faces. Throughout the ‘60s there was a cultural explosion - people got weird, the skirts got short, and music got loud.

The cultural domination of the ‘60s in London can’t be overstated. Everything that happened in this one English city rippled out across the western world and made the world cooler. By the mid-1960s, young people in other countries were wearing miniskirts and rocking the Union Jack, and British music was "invading" the four corners of the globe.