Civil Rights / Cold War
CR Teen Fashion 01 Black Student Union CR Teen Fashion 02 Fashionable Students CW/CRM Teen Fashion 03 Beatles in America CR Teen Fashion 04 Jeans CR Teen Fashion 05 1956 Prom Dress CR Kids/Teens 02 Ike Jacket

Teen Fashion

This was the first era when teenagers did not dress like adults or children, but instead had their own styles.

Teen fashions were heavily influenced by movie and magazine images. From the 1940s to the early 1960s, girls' clothing styles changed often. Still, bobby socks, saddle-oxford shoes, sweaters, and pleated plaid skirts remained popular. Blue jeans became accepted wear for all teens. 

Boys' styles did not change as much. Shortly after the war, "Ike" or Eisenhower-style military jackets were popular, but boys in the 1950s regularly wore jeans and white T-shirts. 

In response to the rock and roll style clothing, many schools had dress codes in the 1950s. Boys couldn’t wear duck tail hair cuts or have long hair. Girls couldn’t wear pants or heavy makeup.
With the popularity of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and other English groups in the 1960s, teenagers began to imitate English styles, sometimes called “mod” for modern. Boys wore longer hair. Girls wore shorter skirts with patterned stockings.
Schools at first resisted the students’ fashion changes. As late as 1968, Middle Tennessee State University female students had to go to gym classes by walking along the outside of campus because the school refused to allow students to wear shorts on campus during the week. 
In the early 1970s, Metropolitan Nashville schools finally allowed female students to wear pants to school instead of requiring dresses or skirts.

Picture Credits:
  • Photograph of a black Memphian wearing an Ike jacket with his date. The Ike jacket, named after General Dwight "Ike" Eisenhower, was in style following World War II. Courtesy of the Pink Palace Museum
  • Members of the Black Student Union at Middle Tennessee State University in 1969/70.  Several of the men are sporting Afro hairstyles.  Photograph from the 1970 Midlander yearbook
  • Photograph of two fashionable Middle Tennessee State University students in 1969-1970.  He has the long sideburns that were still popular in the early 1970s while she is wearing a mini skirt with a long vest the same length as her skirt, another popular look.  Photograph from the 1970 Midlander yearbook
  • Three young women show off their rolled-up jeans and white bobby sox that teenage girls wore in the 1950s.  The photograph was taken in 1952 at Natchez Trace State Park.  They are identified as (l-r) Florence Murley, Ann Carpenter, and Claudia Horn, all from Henderson, Tennessee.  TN Dept. of Conservation Photograph Collection, Tennessee State Library and Archives
  • Photograph of the Beatles arriving in America for their first tour in 1964.  Their shaggy haircuts were copied by teenage boys of the time.  Photograph by United Press International.  Library of Congress
  • A photograph of Ruth Cope wearing her prom dress at the White County High School senior prom in 1956.  Photograph courtesy of Ruth Cope Anderson

   Civil Rights / Cold War >>  Everyday Life >>  Leisure Time >>  Teen Fashion

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