Clothes of male teens in the 1950s

Written by nancy hayden
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Clothes of male teens in the 1950s
The leather jacket was one item that caught on with young men in the 1950s. (Black Leather coat image by Edward Stephens from

During the 1950s, teenagers experienced a far more free and relaxed upbringing than their parents had in the years leading up to World War II. This nationally relaxed, post-war vibe carried over and was reflected in the clothing styles of the time. Although teenage boys were dressing more casually than the previous generation had, fashions, for things like school or dates, were still far more formal than they are today.

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Jeans became a trend with both boys and girls in the 1950s. Teenage boys emulated actors like James Dean and Marlon Brando and wanted to wear jeans just like them. Jeans were not allowed to be worn in high schools at the time, though. Boys would wear jeans to hang out with their friends after school or on a Friday night. For school, though, boys wore dress slacks or chinos. Chinos were cotton trousers, usually khaki in colour. The style in the '50s was to wear them somewhat fitted, not baggy as they are in modern day. Boys' slacks were often pleated in the front.


Along with jeans, teenage boys began wearing T-shirts that were usually white. Up until the 1950s, these shirts had been worn mostly as undershirts. It was also trendy to roll up the short sleeves of the T-shirt. A young man would use this rolled sleeve as a place to keep his cigarettes so they would not get crushed in his trousers' pocket. T-shirts were only worn for recreation; for school, church or work, polo shirts were commonly worn. These shirts, with a button-down collar, were worn in both short- and long-sleeved styles. Plaid patterns became a trend with these shirts in the '50s, as the preppy look came into vogue.


Young men wore suits in the 1950s more often than they do in modern day. Not only would a teen boy wear a suit to church or out on a date, but it was even common for him to wear one to high school, and certainly in college. Separates became seen more often in the 1950s than they had been in the previous decade. A young man could wear a jacket, tie and dress trousers and still be dressed up without the formality of a matching suit. Young men began wearing a lighter-coloured jacket with dark dress slacks, or vice-versa. Ties in the '50s were skinny and quite often a solid, dark colour.


Along with the blazers that young men wore quite often, other styles of jackets caught on with American boys in the 1950s. Varsity letter jackets or sweaters became a staple wardrobe item for a high school-aged young man. Teen boys also began wearing sharkskin or satin jackets that were often a bright or light colour. This look caught on because of the singers of the era, most notably, Elvis Presley. For the young man not interested in the jock or rock 'n' roll look, there was the "greaser" look, with a black leather jacket. This look was made famous by James Dean in "Rebel Without a Cause."

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