The 1960 Sexual Revolution Sparked the Evolution of LSU Women’s Class-wear
Catherine Daigle, Justin Hutchinson, Michael D’albor, Andy Mejia
Before the 1960’s, women’s fashion was limited because societal norms favored modesty. These norms were soon to be broken. Long skirts, tucked blouses, and well-kept hair defined women’s dress codes prior to the movements of the 1960’s. Although modest clothing was admirable, it restricted one of the few social outlets for women to express their individuality. It was also dysfunctional for the modern roles that women were beginning to pursue. This summoned a need for change, propelled by the Sexual Revolution of 1960 and second-wave of feminism, that the government could not deny. These movements caused a ripple effect in the community at Louisiana State University leading to a proposal of free dress written by the student government association that would eventually be granted.
The 1960 Sexual Revolution, a movement of sexual liberation, eventually signaled the need for change in women’s dress codes on LSU campus. Women were encouraged to express themselves in ways they previously could not. The amount of garments worn had significantly decreased, constituting tighter clothing, lower necklines, and shorter skirts. Women outlined themselves in all dimensions in accordance with the modernized culture. In correlation with the innovative culture, the second wave of feminism, a strong push for women’s equal rights also surfaced in the 1960s. Women’s modernizing roles and occupations in society enabled them to no longer need men as a means of dependency in life. The Sexual Revolution and the second-wave of feminism are complements of each other relative to women’s empowerment, thus women began dressing to please themselves more than to attract the attention of men. These changes gave women an unusual but empowering sense of self-confidence and embodiment of their inner sexuality (Second-Wave Feminism). Because this was becoming the trend of the times, LSU women felt that their strict class-wear guidelines of below the knee length dress, modest blouses, and fixed hair should also be altered. A typically dressed LSU student of the sixties is shown in Figure 1 below.
In hopes to abolish dress regulations for women, LSU’s student government submitted a proposal in 1968 to the school, as seen in Figure 2.
Because of the modernizing times, there was a popular demand on LSU’s campus for freedom of dress. The student government took action by writing a proposal to the administration which consisted of the student body’s thoughts and reasons for changing the dress guidelines. The LSU student government along with the student body believed that in order to become independent adults, their choice of dress should not be dictated. The regulations in place were actually doing more harm than good for the young adults. They believed that college was a place to truly find one’s self, and clothing was one of the factors with a major contribution to the individuality of a person. It was stated in the proposal that, “The development of mature decision making abilities is a fundamental part of education, and within bounds, it is the individual’s right to dress as he chooses. The vast majority of students on this campus have good taste to choose appropriate dress” (Arbour). Additionally, in hopes to prove that this proposal was attainable, the student government referenced the unchanged academic reputation at other universities where the freedom of dress was granted. By stating this observation, they hoped it would allow LSU to recognize that fashion is a negligible distraction of education, and merely a reflection of one’s personality. The sole reason for this proposal was to promote women’s rights and empowerment on the campus of LSU. The document formally concluded that all student dress regulations be lifted in accordance with the Baton Rouge community legal decency regulations (Arbour). With fingers crossed, the student government submitted their bold recommendations to the administration in hopes that women’s rights at Louisiana State University would forever be changed for the better.
On April 9th, 1969, LSU’s Student Government’s request to abolish women’s dress regulations on campus was granted as seen in Figure 3.
This was a major milestone for women, as they now had full control of their choice of dress. Their only guidelines, as requested in the proposal, were that student dress should parallel to the legal decency standards in the Baton Rouge Area (Joseph). This breakthrough began the evolution of women’s class-wear at LSU. With this freedom of dress, new trends began to surface around campus. Students now had the power to embody their preferred style, whether it was dressing for comfort, dressing to impress, or dressing to resemble a famous icon at the time. Allowing women the right to free dress gave them a sense of self-appreciation and empowerment. It also gave them the power to stand out and outwardly express their unique personalities through style. Since the making of history in 1969, female students on LSU’s campus have continued to display their personalities through their class-wear; however, the trends have changed by the decades.
As seen in the figures below, LSU female students decorated themselves according to the current trends in time. After LSU’s dress guidelines were revamped, women of the seventies no longer wore the below the knee length skirts or clean cut blouses, rather pants and shorts became popular options for class-wear. As shown in Figure 4, women of the seventies revealed more of their bodies in ways that were previously deemed unacceptable.
LSU women of the eighties had a free spirited attitude toward their class-wear dress illustrated in Figure 5, while a more modest look of denim jeans and scrunchy hair ties emerged in the nineties, show in Figure 6.
Tank tops with denim jeans or a mini skirt were popular class-wear in the beginning of the 2000s, but near the end of the decade, class-wear casualized to oversized t-shirts and Nike shorts as shown in Figure 7.
Presently on LSU’s campus, women’s class-wear dress ranges greatly. The majority of women dress for comfort in the continued style of oversized t-shirts, athletic shorts, running shoes, and a messy hairdo. Additionally, some women choose to express their unique styles.
Because of the Sexual Revolution and Second-wave Feminism movements of the 1960’s, women were finally given what they deserve: a genuine push for equality and freedom regardless of sex. Likewise, women at LSU in 1968 took a stand that would revolutionize women’s appearance for years to come. With each decade, women gradually gained more freedom to wear whatever they preferred to class each day. Although this may seem like a very miniscule adjustment, the evolution of women’s class-wear has allowed women ample room for creativity and expression. The female students of 1968 laid a foundation for what women of Louisiana State University continue striving to be: free, empowered, expressive, and progressive.
Arbour, Peter W. Resolution #20 Dress Regulations. 11 Dec. 1968. Print.
Figure 1. Gumbo Yearbook 1965. Print. Archives, Hill Memorial Library.
Figure 2. Resolution #20. Print. Archives, Hill Memorial Library.
Figure 3. Resolution #42. Print. Archives, Hill Memorial Library.
Figure 4. Gumbo Yearbook 1975. Print. Archives, Hill Memorial Library.
Figure 5. Gumbo Yearbook 1982. Print. Archives, Hill Memorial Library.
Figure 6. Gumbo Yearbook 1996. Print. Archives, Hill Memorial Library.
Figure 7. Gumbo Yearbook 2005. Print. Archives, Hill Memorial Library.
Figure 7. Gumbo Yearbook 2009. Print. Archives, Hill Memorial Library.
Daigle, Catherine, Figure 8. Accumulation of Photos. 20 April 2018, personal photo, LouisianaState University.
Joseph, Colley. Resolution #42 Women’s Dress Regulations. Published 9 Apr. 1969. Print.
“Second-Wave Feminism.” Khan Academy, 23 Apr. 2018.