Fads & activities of the 1960s

Written by catherine mezensky
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Fads & activities of the 1960s
Long hair and colourful clothes were in style at the end of the 1960s. (Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images)

The 1960s were a decade of change, and fads evolved with new ideas. In the early years, many people still dressed conservatively, a leftover influence from the 1950s. Kids still loved toys from the past. But as British fads like mod styles and music hit the scene, things changed. Wild colours, looks, and message music became the rage.

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Clothing Fads

In the early 1960s, America's first lady Jackie Kennedy inspired many clothing fads. Women all over America rushed to copy her simple, elegant look. A neat pillbox hat capped the classic Jackie ensemble. In the mid-1960s, the mod look came into style, and women wore A-line dresses with geometric patterns while men wore sophisticated suits. By the end of the 1960s, hippie-inspired fads had people dressing in Nehru jackets, peasant skirts, feathers, scarves and Indian prints.

Big Hair

Big hair was in style for women at the beginning of the 1960s. Women loved beehives and bouffants. Women copied Jackie Kennedy's neat flip. Men wore short hair, but hats went out of style as the president refused to wear them. With the mod style, women's hair became shorter and sleeker while men's became longer. By the end of the 1960s, both sexes followed the fad for long hair. Some left it long and wild, but more conservative women wore it with big curls.

Toys and Games

Little troll dolls with wild, bright-coloured hair were a fad in the mid-1960s. The Ouija board, which first became popular in the 1920s, still sold well 40 years later. Millions of boys played with the new electric slot cars during this time. Girls loved pop beads, which could be taken apart and snapped back together in different colour combinations. Girls also loved Chatty Cathy and Barbie.

Music and Dance

Teenagers of the time loved dancing along to popular music groups on television shows like "American Bandstand." In the early 1960s, people danced to Motown music. On February 9, 1964, the Beatles made their debut on the "Ed Sullivan Show." Soon boys sported Beatles-inspired mod clothes and long hair. Teenage girls bought dolls, magazines, clothing and more with Beatles themes. By the end of the 1960s, people preferred music with a message. The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and others helped to make young people politically aware through music.

Food Fads

Housewives in the early 1960s loved cooking food from cans and packages. This was part of the "space age" fad, and it seemed futuristic. Cooking for fun became a new trend as chefs like Julia Child made interesting new recipes on television each week. On the days after Julia Child's programs aired, millions of home cooks rushed to stores to buy the ingredients and gadgets she used. Beef Wellington, fondue and flaming dishes like Crepes Suzette were popular. By the end of the 1960s, many cooks gave up their canned processed foods and joined in the natural foods fad.

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