Boys' fashion in the 1960s reflected the 1950s decade it proceeded and previewed the 1970s decade that would follow. While the popular 1950s boys' clothes distinction between "good" clothes and "play clothes" was still predominantly enforced, world events and technological advances during the 1960s began to turn this distinction on its head.
Boys' 1960s fashion reflected the world around it. Prior to the 1960s, boys' fashion was a miniature scale of their fathers', and the popularity of school uniforms discouraged individuality. During the 1960s, however, world events such as the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the Vietnam War, the Beatles and the British Invasion, the Civil Rights' movement and the hippie trend all served to loosen the buttoned-up boys' fashion of previous decades. Boys' 1960s clothes encouraged freedom of movement and style both as a popular trend and form of counterculture.
The 1960s brought technological advances in fabric, which broadened the field of boys' fashion. In previous decades, children's clothes were generally made of cotton and boys and girls alike usually had a set of play clothes to avoid frequent laundering and fading of their "good" clothes. Synthetic fabrics of the 1960s loosened this restriction. Nylon, polyester, spandex and blends were widely available and withstood the rigours of frequent laundering. As a result, the clothing choices for boys broadened and the distinction between "good" and "play" clothes lessened.
The early 1960s still had some ties to the 1950s and earlier decades. While boys played in jeans after school in the 1950s, by the early 1960s some began wearing them in school. Shorts carried over to the 1960s as well, but in the opposite direction. In the 1950s, boys' shorts were used more for dress --- usually as part of a suit --- but 1960s boys began using them for play. In general, early 1960s boys' clothes transitioned into a less restricted style, both in terms of function and fashion rules.
By the mid-1960s, the fashion market was heavily targeting teenagers with the new counterculture style. In keeping with their older counterparts, boys began wearing colourful --- often tie-died --- T-shirts, jeans with bell bottoms and colourful patches associated with the growing "flower power" and Hippie movements. By the late 1960s, the strict fashion rules of the 1950s were all but a memory. Younger parents of the time embraced the 1960s boys' clothing trends, while older parents still clung to the notion of "good" clothes and "play" clothes as a compromise.
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