*** boys clothes in the 1970s

Boys' Clothing during the 1970s

boys 1970s fashions
Figure 1.--A popular style in the 1970s was to dress little brothers like their older sisters, but never older brothers.

If the 1960s was the decade of Hippy fashions, the 1970s was the decade that the Hippies began wearing polyester. More bizzare fashions probably appeared in the 1970s than any other decade. Sport and suit jackets had wide, pointy lapels. Bellbottoms jeans were a popular fashion trend. The girls were wearing maxis and minis as well as hot pants and platform shoes. Natural or ethnic styles of the flower children and hippies. Polyester became the new staple fiber, polyester suits and shirts were everywhere. Boys wore longer hair, some at shoulder length hair. Afros also appeared during the 1970s. One major development was the widespread use of designer names and labels as an incentive to shoppers. Casual vclothing became main stream.




Some information is available on clothing trend during the 1970s in specific countries. Through much of the 20 century it was possible to tell what country children were from by the way they dressed. Of course continental styles were relatively easy. Here ethnicity is another useful factor, but by the 70s we begin to see a unprecsented level of migration. And even within continnts, it was often possible to idntify countries, especially major countries.

North America

United States

The 1960s was the decade of the Hippies in America. In the 1970s the hippies put polyester. Major changed occurred in boys clothing in the 1970s. Probably more bizzare chldren's and teen fashions emerged during the 1970s than in any other decade. Bell-bottom jeans were thein thing. While polyester ruled, jeans began to move into the cutural mainstream and became fashionable. The move since the 1920s had been to casual clothing. Casual clothing by the 1970s finally became increasingly acceptable in a variety of social occasions that one required more formal dress. All kinds of jeans were worn and they emerged as fashion statements. Children eventually demanded designer jeans. Other insisted on buying jeans that looked worn or even torn. The "T" shirt emerged as a major fashion, especially ones with statesments, logos, or athletic or music group images. Boys in the 1970s, no longer dressed up in short pants and knee socks, except for the very youngest and even younger boys wanted longs by the 1980s. While boys didn't want to dress up in short pants, they increasingly wanted to wear shorts for casual wear. Many differnt kinds of shorts appeared, cutoffs, runnng shorts, OPs, camp shorts and others. Many boys wore cutoffs that would not wear any other type of shorts. Not only were more boys wearing shorts, but the Bermudas of the 1960s gave way to a popular shorter length.


A major change occurred in Europe with shorts and knee socks virtually disappearing on older boys who insisted on jeans and other informal American clothes. A few traditional private schools continued to insist on shorts. Older boys dressed up in suits little different from their fathers. Mostly they wore casual clothes with shorts becoming increasingly common, but only during the summer. Until the 1970s, many countries had distinctive fashion styles, espcially for boys. In the 70s we begin to see pan-European styles appearing.


The 1970s was a major dividing point between post-war and late-20th Century boys' fashions. Boys now were acquainred with jeans and wanted to wear them even though their parents weren't still sold on the idea. The Scouts had switched to long pants in 1969, although the Cubs still insisted on short pants. State secondary continued to require uniforms, but even junior boys, with a few exceptions, now wore long pants. A few Public schools still required shorts and most preparatory schools continued to require shorts. Many primary schools adopted simple unidorms, usually simple grey jumpers, shorts, and knee socks. English boys increasingly got long pants suits at younger ages. The age at which boys should wear shorts was widely discussed in the media. For many British boys at the beginning of the decade, getting his first pair of long pants continued to be an important landmark. The increasing popularity of jeans and other long trousers meant that by the end of the decade boys wore long pants at quite early ages and it was less of an event. While fewer British boys wore short pants suits, many schools still required shorts for elementary age children. Almost all boys in state secondary schools wore longs. A few private schools continued to require shorts for older boys, but this had virtually disappeared by the end of the decade. Older boys were attracted by skinhead styles.


There were major changes in French boy's clothing in the late-20th century, especially during the 1970s. There was in the post-World War II era still destinctions between French boys' wear and styles worn in other countries. Ths was especially true in the 1950s, but begin to decline in the 1960s. In the late-20th century, French boys' fashions gradually lost its destinctive character, There were still some differences in the 1970s. One of the trends most notable in this period was the increasing popularity of casual styles. Boys increasingly wore jeans and "T"-shirts. Girls still commonly wore dresses, but we also see them wearing pants. French boys still commonly wore short cut short pants in 1972, but longer cut shorts were beginning to appear in the catalogs. Older boys were increasingly wearing long pantsthat more and more boys wore long rather than short pants. Boys increasingly wore long pants to school and even during the the summer. Jeans became a popular fashion statement. We also notice that boys wearing short pants in the 1970s began to wear longer cut shorts. We also notice girls in the 1970s beginning to wear pants, both short and long pants, and not just dresses. We notice girls wearing knee socks, but they are now less common or boys. Many of the casual clothes French boys were wearing in the 1970s on had a destinctive American look. The French brother and sister here, according to a French reader, "... are dressed for play, but tey often wore the same clothes to school, except the boy's sneakers were not permitted in school". A British reader tells us that his in his grammar (secondary) school French class the subject of French childen'clothes was discussed. There was considerable difference of opinion.


By the 1970s shorts had become increasingly rare anong older teenagers, but younger boys still commonly wore them--although more on a seasonable basis. Shorts were increasing;y being worn for casual wear. Casual shorts for play were made in various material. Denim became very popular. Boys wore quite short shorts in the 1970s. Little boys still wearing shorts during the winter might be dressed in long over the knee stockings or in beginning in the 1950s, tights. Some boys would wear them for warmth under long pants. Most German boys like other boys in Western Europe wanted jeans. The change was a slower in Communist Eastern Germany (DDR). But East Germany received West German (BRD) television and fashion easily breeched the Iron Curtain. By the time that the Berlin Wall fell, German boys were dressing in the indestinguishable pan-European styles. The West German boys were a bit more stylish as their parents had more money, but the same styles were commonly worn on both sides of the Wall. Lederhosen became popular for younger boys. Sneakers became increasingly popular, but open-toed sandals were widely worn. German boys commonly wore their sandals with socks--often dark or paterned ankle socks.


Italian buys like other European boys less commoly wore suits and dressed up in the 1970s. Casual clothing was becoming part of the vstandaed pan-European style. And when suits were worn we see far fewer boys wearimng short pants suitswhich were still widely worn in the 1960s. Knee socks were also becoming less common for boys. We see more different styles of casual shorts being worn in the 1970s. The same styles worn in America and popular throughout Europe, many with an athletic or sports look. Boys still commonly wore shorts, biut now as casual clothing and especially as warm weather summer seasonal wear. We see sleeveless shirts like tank tops or even basic singlet undershirts. We are not sure what the Italian terms were. Singlets were also worn by men as anyone who has seen an italism movie knows. They were more common than t-shirts, at least among young children. Flip flops were also common. in the summer. Italian boys by the 1970s began more commonly wearing jeans, but shorts were still common. Some boys began wearing their hair longer.

Personal Experiences


England: School shorts

America: Hated styles

The 1970s: Jeans-A Minority View

The 1970s: The Disco Era

The 1970s: A South African friend and church


Related Pages in the Boys' Historical Web Site
[Return to the Main 20th century fashion chronolgy pages]
[Return to the Main fashion chronolgy pages]
[The 1910s] [The 1920s] [The 1930s] [The 1940s] [The 1950s] [The 1960s] [The 1970s] [The 1980s] [The 1990s]

Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing Web Page
[About Us]
[Introduction] [Activities] [Biographies] [Chronology] [Clothing styles] [Countries] [Girls] [Theatricals]
[Bibliographies] [Contributions] [FAQs] [Glossaries] [Images] [Index] [Links] [Registration] [Tools]
[Main HBC Topic page]
[Boys' Historical Clothing Home]

Created: January 21, 1999
Last updated: December 20, 2003