What Did Teenagers Wear in the '60s?

by Nancy Hayden

When many people think of 1960s fashions, they think of the hippie movement that began late in the decade. For much of the ‘60s, however, clothing styles were quite conservative, and most teenagers dressed like ladies and gentlemen. Styles changed drastically in the last few years of the decade. Teens who began the decade as youngsters wearing the innocent looks of the ‘50s now wore casual clothes, ready for the “anything goes” 1970s.

Boys' Casual Styles

Around the house, teenage boys of the ‘60s wore styles similar to what modern-day teens wear. They had begun wearing jeans, known as dungarees, in the mid to late ‘50s and they also wore corduroys and khakis. They wore them with T-shirts, sweatshirts or short-sleeved cotton button-downs. For much of the decade, casual clothes were solid colors or basic patterns such as plaids or stripes. Boys wore their pants cut straight or even narrow. By around 1968, bell-bottom pants came into vogue and designers made casual button-down shirts in patterns such as psychedelic paisley or polka dots.

Boys' Dressy Styles

Boys did not wear their casual clothes to school for most of the 1960s. For school, church or social outings, boys wore dress pants, often in wool or polyester, along with a long-sleeved button-down shirt, a tie and often a jacket. The general rule was that boys could not wear pants with seams stitched on the outside. This is a good example of how quickly styles changed. The polyester leisure suit, with its outside stitching, came into style in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s and was an acceptable outfit for not only schools but the corporate world.

Girls' Casual Styles

Early in the decade, girls were wearing styles around the house that came into vogue in the late ‘50s. They sometimes wore jeans, but they were considered extremely casual for girls, the equivalent of going out in sweatpants. Rather, to go shopping or to the movies, girls wore colorful cotton pedal pushers that ended midcalf. Later in the decade, waistlines on the girls’ pants lowered and hip-huggers became trendy. Girls wore hip-huggers or bell-bottoms in bright colors and patterns such as flowers and wide stripes. Girls wore sweaters, T-shirts or sleeveless blouses tucked into their pants.

Girls' Dressy Styles

Teenage girls dressed like ladies for school throughout much of the ‘60s. They wore knee-length, pleated wool skirts in dark colors or patterns such as navy or plaid, and wore conservative white blouses with rounded Peter Pan-style collars. Girls loved sweater sets that consisted of a sleeveless wool or angora sweater with a matching cardigan worn over it. Out on the town, teen girls often wore sleeveless polyester or knit dresses that were comfortable, with no defined waist and hemlines that grew shorter throughout the decade when miniskirts and dresses came into style.

Photo Credits

  • Laura Beth Drilling/Demand Media