The 1960s was a period of rapid and dramatic social change in America and Europe and new attitudes were reflected clearly in the fashions of the time. The rejection of authority and convention that was a key feature of many 1960s counter-culture movements was reflected in an increasingly informal attitude to clothes this was reflected in boys' trousers getting longer and girls' skirts shorter.
Length of Boys' Uniforms
The biggest changes in boys' school uniforms during the 1960s was the move from shorts to long trousers. The practice of wearing shorts was most common in England, where boys at state and private schools wore them into their teens, even in winter. American boys had generally moved into longer trousers at an earlier age, but as the decade progressed this trend began at ever younger ages on both sides of the Atlantic. This was partly inspired by a new trend for women to wear very short shorts which feminised the garment in many peoples' eyes.
Length of Girls' Uniforms
As boys' clothes got longer, girls' got shorter. While many teachers did their best to reset the rising tide of rising hems, girls' skirts were generally worn above the knee by the end of the decade, a trend that would have been unthinkable ten years previously. The other major change in girl's school clothes was that by the mid 60s some girls had started wearing trousers to school, although they remained banned in many schools, particularly in England for another two decades.
Both girls' and boys' uniforms often featured blazers. In England most school boys still wore caps, but this was dying out by the end of the 1960s. Towards the end of the decade boys' trousers began to become more flared at the bottom, as did those of the girls who were allowed to wear trousers to school. During the 1960s advances in man-made fibres saw fabrics such as polyester being used for the first time.
The school uniform has a particularly significant role in English culture, but during the 1960s attitudes towards it split dramatically. A few radical schools abolished school uniforms entirely in a move some of them would come to regret. Others, particularly the most exclusive private schools, determinedly held onto traditional uniforms that had remained the same for centuries some even dating back to Tudor times, a tradition that still continues in some English schools today.
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