The term “teenager” was coined in the 1950s. Prior to World War II a child was considered a child until their 18th birthday, then they became an adult. However, in the 1950’s “teenagers” began to use fashion as a means of self-expression. Since teens no longer had to work in order to help their parents; they began to take part-time jobs or they would receive a monthly allowance in order to spend on non-essential goods such as clothes.

Teens were strongly influenced by film, television, magazines and persauded to use their money towards non-essential goods that society convinced them were needs not wants. Consumer goods which were denied to a war torn Europe were availble to American teens therefore creating a consumer boom.

These single young people with cash from paid work soon had their own fashions, own music, own cafes, own milk bars and by the end of the decade even their own transport in the form of fuelled scooters. Teenagers suddenly dominated style in clothes, haircuts and even travel abroad. A generation gap began to emerge between parents and teen offspring when teenagers started to mirror the image of their peers rather than their elders.

The main looks for teenagers were greasers and preppies.

Greasers followed the standard black leather and denim jeans look. They raced about town on motorbikes and were consider outrageous.

Preppie qualities were neatness, tidiness and grooming. Teen girls wore full circular skirts or neat pleated skirts.

Blue jeans

Jeans history would be nothing without Levi Strauss the inventor of the “blue jeans”. Eventually in the 1950s people asked for denim jeans or just as often – Levi’s jeans, rather than waist overalls.



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