Western popular cultures were the strongest inspiration for the youth movement for ladies of Singapore. This pop culture emerged from the 1950s baby boom to challenge conventions. However, some fashion novelties like the mini skirt raised social concerns about women’s modesty. Women in Singapore were expected to take care of their social status as well as etiquette in dressing. They were required to dress appropriately by covering certain parts of the body during certain events. However, couples of ladies found some ways to bring on these global fashion trends to get around the social standards.
The women of Singapore were not only consumers of fashion. Many of them were working for the garment industry at that period. Until mass produced garments and synthetic fabrics became the norm in the 1970s, women preferred tailor made clothes and even made their own, constantly seeking inspiration from broader cultural trends.
Singaporean women became increasingly cosmopolitan from the 1950s onwards. With the opening up of society through industrialization and education, women were increasingly exposed to Western ideas of modernization. They no longer limited themselves to traditional ethnic garments and looked to fashion centers in Europe and Asia for inspiration.
Tight-fitting western garments became famous and their silhouette carried over to traditional garments, adding a modern air to the representation of ethnic identity. Women mixed and matched traditional and western garments and accessories to achieve a modern look.
Malay women that dwell in Singapore however, are more modest. They refused to wear tight fitted clothing. Whereas Indian women in Singapore prefer sari that is more reserved and retain their culture.
Singapore’s youth culture in the 1960’s was largely influenced by British and later American popular culture via the media. Youth culture was distinguished by its fashion preferences and corresponding leisure activities.
In the early 1960s, youth of Singapore spent most of their weekend afternoons at tea parties dancing to rock and roll, and rhythm and blues music. Local radio stations played popular music also several local brands, following British bands, were formed. Wealthy teenagers went to concerts by foreign bands such as Cliff Richards and the Shadows (1961) and the Rolling Stones (1963). When dance music became popular in the early 1970s, young people began to patronize discotheques.
Similarly, Singapore’s youth fashion in the 1960s became increasingly westernized, with brightly colored clothes with floral or psychedelic prints, unisex fashion and constantly changing hemlines. For the first time, shops like The Look and Trend Boutique were opened by and for young people.
Overall, women in Singapore were heavily inspired and influenced by the westerns and since the society were in the era of industrialization and education, many women were opened up to Western ideas of modernization. They were not dwelling at the past but they look ahead to fashion centers in Asia and Europe for ideas and muses. They were constantly exposed to different kinds of insights ranging from music, life style and occasions and that stimulate the women in Singapore to change and move forward.