Children's clothes in the '60s

Updated April 17, 2017

By the 1960s, children's clothing reflected technological advances in fabric. Cotton and wool had been mainstays for kids' clothes, but in the '60s, nylon, polyester, spandex and various blends such as cotton-polyester knits made clothes easier to manufacture and launder. Many no longer needed to be ironed. Kids still had three categories of garb: school clothes, play clothes and "good" clothes for church or dressing up. Societal changes in the second half of the '60s loosened the formality of these categories.

The Preppy Look

Preppy clothes gave children a professional, dressed-up look. This style was common in schools, churches and other formal occasions. The button-down preppy style often included a buttoned-up shirt worn under a blazer -- often blue -- with a striped tie. Khaki trousers and loafers completed the look, which is still seen in many school uniforms. Girls' variations included dresses or skirts, often pleated, and blouses, sometimes with cardigans. Peter Pan collars were common.


Shorts became more popular for casual wear and play clothes, especially for boys. Shorts appealed to mothers due to their low maintenance. Shorts often had wrinkle-resistance resin finishes that didn't require ironing. Variations included camp shorts, which had larger pockets than the average pair, and cut-offs, created by cutting most of the leg off a pair of long trousers or jeans.

Flower Power

The hippie movement of the 1960s developed fashion trends that still echo today -- especially the ubiquitous blue jeans. While the movement itself symbolised counterculture and an anti-Vietnam War stance, its style of dress trickled down to children who wanted to emulate teenagers and college students. Styles included tie-dyed T-shirts, combat fatigue trousers and faded or ripped jeans. Traditional dresses were out for hippie girls, replaced by peasant-style dresses.

Girls' Clothing

According to, it was uncommon for girls to wear trousers and traditional trousers in the early 20th century, but by the end of the 1960s, girls commonly wore shorts, Capri pants and jeans as casual wear. Dresses were still frequently worn to school or on special occasions. While some U.S. schools allowed girls to wear trousers instead of dresses, other parts of the world commonly required dresses until the 1970s. The miniskirt, invented in 1965 in London, became wildly popular among preteens and teenagers, giving rise to rules in many schools about just how short girls' skirts could be.

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About the Author

Matt Koble has been writing professionally since 2008. He has been published on websites such as DoItYourself. Koble mostly writes about technology, electronics and computer topics.