Fashion changes from the 60’s to the 70’s.

By Charlie Goodrum, Ebony Wright, Harley Almond, Cierra Handsborough, Camille Dupre-Martin

students wearing jeans and casual attire
LSU Students wearing a mixture of formal and casual clothing. The men int this photograph are wearing what would be today called “business casual,” while the woman in the photograph is wearing low-slung bell bottoms and a crop top.

In 1960s we found our country in the middle of what would come to be known as the  “Golden Age.” With John F Kennedy running for president and civil rights being on the front more than ever, the radical 60s were followed by an uproar of diversity much different than the years before. Here at Louisiana State University the changes were evident in the wardrobe differences of the students from the 60 into the 70s. To begin to understand these changes, take a look at the history of LSU. In doing so, you would be able to see how it went from being a military academy for males only to the inclusive more relaxed LSU that was seen in the 70s and that students experience today.

During the 1960s, LSU had continued to grow and develop into a teaching university with mainly agricultural components for research as opposed to a military academy. Though keeping true to its roots having, ROTC (Reserve Officers Training Corps) was a big campus communities, and women were now also allowed to serve as cadets. At this time the dress code held more of a formal caliber where the women were expected to be clothed in skirts paired with blouses or dresses and the men in slacks or khakis with button ups. At around the mid to late 60s we begin to see the shift in wardrobes of the students from an uptight prestigious type of dress into a more lackadaisical setting. This shift is illustrated in the photographs below taken in 1969 (on the left) and 1973 (on the right) respectively.

In the early 1960s, fashion at LSU for most male students was centered around a more professional style, with the normal outfit being slacks and a collared, button-down shirt tucked into the pants with a belt. These students presented themselves as young ambitious body throughout their college career, and that skill surely helped them in getting jobs in their fields after graduation. This lasted throughout the 60s, and for some students, into the early 70s. However, in the 1970s, that style for many young men disappeared. Beginning in the very late 60s, men began to wear normal, non-military style clothing more often, and the style of that eventually changed into a relaxed style very different from what was the norm at LSU before that time. As the overall style of dressing became much more relaxed, the pants and shirts the men wore became looser. In many pictures from these years,  we can see the changes in fashion displayed in many different ways such as different fabrics and color palettes.

Before the 70s, LSU’s student body kept to a more modest headshot. Men in the beginning of the decade seem to have either a flat-top buzz cut or a close cut that they would part and comb to one side. Their clean cuts were typically followed up by a face clear of mustaches and beards. The ROTC program at LSU also played a huge role in establishing this trend.

Women at the beginning of this decade also kept a very conservative look when it came to the upkeep of their hair. At the time, Lyndon B. Johnson’s wife, Claudia “Lady Bird” Johnson, could have been an influence that developed this rounded hair style not only just at LSU but nationwide. As First Lady, she broke down barriers by interacting directly with congress, making a solo electioneering tour, and advocating for beautifying the nation’s cities. She was an empowering role model that young women looked up to.

Gumbo 1970: LSU students shown growing their hair out. The male above is sporting extended sideburns and mustache. Female to the right has grown her hair extensively with the addition of a headband.

However, going into the “Hippie Era,” the exiting of World War II and our assertion into the Vietnam War played a dramatic role in the diversification of hairstyles on campus for both males and females. There were a multitude of protests against going to war in Vietnam and motions for peace; this affected how people were conveying themselves as a form of peaceful protesting. From the late 60’s going into the 70’s both male and female students started to grow their hair out further than their shoulders. A new development that came from men was letting their mustaches and beards grow out, mustaches being the more popular of the two. Women, on the other hand, became more liberal with their haircuts; they either grew it out long enough to touch their lower back or cut it even shorter than before. Women also started to introduce daisy crowns, headbands, and beads to their public appearances.

Female students pictured in the LSU Gumbo, 1969 and 1970

Women’s clothing in this era changed even more drastically than the men’s. In the 60’s, female students at LSU dressed very conservatively. Their normal attire consisted of dresses, skirts, and blouses, and majority of the clothing was neutral-colored. Many students during this time were wanting to protest all the fighting that was happening between nations, so they decided to show rebellion with their style of dress. Until the 1970s, it was very unusual for women to wear pants. During this time, they also traded in their modest shoes for platforms. Some girls would even have their stomachs showing, which was a huge change from the conservative 1960s.

The “hippie era” was a direct result of world wide influences such as the end of World War II and the assertion of the United States into the Vietnam War. The style and fashion of Louisiana State University was affected greatly affected by these worldly aspects. Showing up in the 1970’s, students had become tired of war and were desperate to keep out of other nations’ business. This embodiment of an independant peaceful spirit is what drove some to an extreme wardrobe, which we would consider “hippie.”  As it was quoted in the 1970 Gumbo, “The scene changes and changes… up, down, pants, dresses… some people are so confused they don’t wear anything.”