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Classic Chic vs. Levi Jeans: The Cross-Cultural Fashion of the 1960’s


Elvis Presley                                     Audrey Hepburn

Casual rock and roll lifestyle                   Fashion icon and classic actress

Legacy includes mansion that got turned into meuseum    Legacy includes humanitarian work in Africa

Notorious for jeans and tee shirt             Wouldn’t be caught dead without a dress and pearls

In the years prior to the 1960’s, culture was very classical, uniform, and predictable. The youth culture of the 1960’s was one of the largest, seeing as it was the decade where the products of the baby-boomers were coming to the age of adolescents. Widespread cultural phenomenon such as the Vietnam War, Civil Rights Movement, The Peace Corps being introduced, and others was taking what was a uniform society, and turning it into a society of varied interests and perspectives.

The youth in this decade were tired of being prim and proper with such madness going on in the world around them, so they took it into their hands to change the culture around them. Levi’s blue jeans, which were once considered to be the uniform of the poor working class, was made to be “stylish” by the youth of the 1960’s, and not only that, but adolescents would destroy their jeans to make even more of a statement of how worn the jeans were. Others invested in the pill hat, a signature of Jackie-O, to show how chic they were. The flower children invested in bell-bottom jeans and Birkenstock sandals to show the liberty and free range of motion they wanted in their clothes.

Regardless of what clothing they chose to wear, their clothing sent a message on how they wished to be perceived. You wouldn’t find an Audrey Hepburn wannabe at Woodstock wearing a flower crown, that wouldn’t fit the order of what her fashion statement was making. In Turner’s book Popcultured he references clothing as a form of communication saying, “On another level we need clothes that communicate messages because we use clothes to let people know how we feel about ourselves, what we aspire to, what we believe in and, ultimately how we feel about the world around us and our status in it”(114).

Having many different styles of fashion across the youth in this decade makes a statement on the condition of society. There were elitists, hippies, activists, and people who just wanted to live a simple life, and that was all reflected in their fashion statements. Youth in this decade were all about living the life they wanted instead of what was expected of them. Like Turner talked about, their fashion statements communicated what they wanted their life to look like and where they wanted to fit into society. To the youth of the 1960’s, the world could be whatever oyster they wanted, and they would let the entire world know what they wanted that oyster to look like.

Ministerially, I think we need to be aware that the youth and culture of the 1960’s is very similar to the youth of today. While decades like the 80’s had very set styles and trends, today and the 1960’s are decades with a wide range of trends, because of all the chaos in the world. Just as the youth in the 1960’s recreated society through their fashion statements because of their discontentment, we need to watch out to see youth students who maybe are changing their fashion statements. Just as the youth of the 60’s were making these choices out of discontentment or to make a statement to what is expected of them, we need to understand that this is still something youth do today. I’m not saying we need to attempt to control the way youth dress, but use their style as social queues to see what kind of statements they are attempting to make to the world.


Natalie Broman


3 responses to “Classic Chic vs. Levi Jeans: The Cross-Cultural Fashion of the 1960’s

  1. brandynwinkley13 ⋅

    Fashion is incredibly complicated. People make such a huge deal about the clothes they wear, the brand they are, and the price. As a basketball player, I have been raised to only play in top brand shoes. It is important to me. Why this is the case, I have no ideal. It is not like they make me jump higher, run faster, shoot better, or anything else, but they add a sense of confidence to my game.
    The youth in the 60s seamed to be ready for a change. They did not want to be like everyone else so they decided to be different.
    I believe as leaders in the church we can use this ideal of change to teach our youth. Every one in today’s culture is doing the wrong stuff. This no longer makes them rebels. If the youth really want to be a rebel then they need to read there Bible because it is the only rebellion left. Doing wrong is no longer a shocker to people, but when people see young kids who are reading their Bibles, praying, and worshiping then it causes commotion. Jesus was a rebel of his time culture and we need to teach this to our youth.

  2. ianmcld ⋅

    Fashion is something that we often times over think and often times under think. We can sometimes over think what we are going to wear, but we under think the subliminal message it is sending out to everyone else. The 60’s were indeed a time of change and many sub-cultures began to emerge, mainly among youth. When someone thinks of the 60’s they could think mods, rockers (or as Ringo Starr says in the movie of a Hard Day’s Night he is a ‘mocker’), hippies, London chic, or Levi’s denim. Each style sends out a distinct message to the world, and it is important to contextualize this for us today in what we personally wear and the message it sends out.

    Brandyn, interesting on telling kids to rebel with the Bible, since everything seems to be rebellion these days. Can it really be called rebellion anymore if everyone is doing it? I have thought about using the Bible as a teaching point on rebellion before too, good to know I’m not alone!

  3. Jesse

    Personally, I’ve never given a whole lot of thought to the fashion of youth. From personal observation, I just noticed that fashion trends are cool for maybe a year or so and then they’re done. When you bring up the point that fashion reflects who an adolescent is trying to be, it’s actually a little freaky to think about because their cultural expectations of who they should be are shifting just as fast as the clothes that they wear.

    This make me think of what is going on today with the fashion of hipster culture, probably one of the most prominent in our world today. From what I have observed at least, it seems that they have the attitude that they’re better because of how much they spent at a thrift store, what music they listen to, coffee, etc. I’m not entirely sure what this speaks of our generation today, but it does provide interesting food for thought.

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