Style Tribes

ISU Style Tribes Exhibit

January 19 – April 22, 2012

Co-curated by Kelsey Feldmann, Hanna Mosley, Carissa Drake, Madeline Pagel, Aubrey Tramontina

Style Tribes ISU Museum ExhibitThe 1960s were a pivotal period in United States’ history. Opposition to the Vietnam War, Civil Rights protests, feminism, the race to space, and the emerging environmental movement were just some of the events that occurred during this decade. Mirroring society, fashion was marked by a diversity of trends, particularly among young people. Many individuals during the 1960s sought to set themselves apart from the mainstream culture through their dress.

Author Ted Polhemus in his 1994 book Street Style labeled the various sub-cultural groups style tribes. He stated, “style isn’t just a superficial phenomenon….encoded within its iconography are all those ideas and ideals which together constitute a culture. Like-looking is like-thinking and in this sense the members of a style tribe have a great deal in common.”

Four style tribes

This exhibit highlights four style tribes prevalent during the 1960s:

  • Op Art and fashion
  • The environmental movement and fashion
  • The mods and space age
  • Professional and collegiate fashions

Style Tribes ISU Museum ExhibitCurators for this exhibit were students enrolled in TC 354/554: History of European and American Dress. TC 354 focuses on how and why dress has changed with a strong emphasis placed on how dress is connected to the social, cultural, environmental, and technological contexts of the Western world. The student curators individually researched their style tribe,  conducted detailed artifact analyses of between 5-10 garments housed in the Textiles and Clothing Museum, and then searched for examples of their style tribes in fashion and popular press magazines during the 1960s, such as VogueHarper’s BazaarLife, and Good Housekeeping.

Related courses

Students interested in history, cultural perspectives, or museum work can consider the several courses offered through the Apparel, Merchandising, and Design Program, including TC 356/556: Twentieth Century Dress, TC 362: Cultural Perspectives, and TC 257: Museum Studies.

History Course Instructor: Sara B. Marcketti,
Cultural Course Instructor: Janet E. Fitzpatrick,


The curators wish to thank Research Associate Suzanne LeSar, Graduate Assistants Kate Greder, Lingling Ming, and Ashley Garrin, as well as the AESHM Department Chair Dr. Bob Bosselman and staff Vickie Van Voorhis, LouAnn Doyle, and Denise Nichols for their assistance in exhibit planning and promotion.