For people just a little older than I am, the Sixties had to be an absolute gas. You could hop into your VW bug with the stick-on flowers, slip the latest Moby Grape into the old eight track, light up a joint and head to your Sensitivity Training group. There was no AIDS but plenty of sex. And when you needed to contemplate whether the entire universe might be a single molecule in some larger being: LSD.

Meanwhile, those of us just a little bit younger had our faces metaphorically pressed against the candy store window, waiting to join the party.

Not to say that coming of age in the late Sixties and early Seventies was a bore. Drugs? Check. Sex? Check. Spooky encounter groups? Check, again. But for sheer crazy celebration of being young in an affluent country, I doubt that anything tops the period from the British Invasion to the deaths of Joplin, Morrison and Hendrix.

Which brings me to the happy confluence of pop art, dawning environmentalism, and fun: the Paper Dress.

Were they really paper? Not exactly, but they were made of plant materials. And they were enough like paper that fire was a concern. Particularly in an era where practically everyone smoked.

Paper dresses were pitched as an environmental benefit because they were made of more easily renewed materials. But washing removed the fire-proofing treatment, so a lot of groovy “paper” wound up in the landfills after a few trips to the Be-in.

But so what? If anything captured the spirit of the times, it’s gotta be paper dresses. So cue up an old episode of Laugh-In and check out what’s happenin’

Bonus: paper earrings!


  1. how interesting! I’m a boomer…… did I miss this fashion trend ???
    oh, maybe because I missed some of the other ‘trends’ too……..
    It’s probably a good thing the paper dresses didn’t last; they’d be expensive now and not at all environmentally acceptable.

  2. Matching place mats and napkins! For the hostess with the mostess, I guess.

    Like your other friends, I had not realised this was a trend. Perhaps it had less appeal in the frigid winters of Ottawa 🙂

    1. One thing I didn’t mention – Hallmark, yes the greeting card company, was a player in the paper dress market. I imagine the prospect of adding racks of dresses with matching tableware to their card stores was pretty exciting.

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