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September 4, 2011

Feelin' Groovy: Fascinating Color Photographs Showing High School Fashions in 1969

In 1969, photographer Arthur Schatz went to a California high school to do a photo-essay for LIFE magazine on an emerging trend in fashion. The results seemed to find the youth of the time developing an identity for their generation.

In contrast to the popular fashions and styles of certain decades — the Gibson Girl of the 1890s and early 1900s, the flapper of the Roaring Twenties, the "New Look" of the Fifties — there was no single reigning style in the 1960s. Even as the slim-cut trousers and shift dresses of the late Fifties crept in, Mod miniskirts and go-go boots found their way over from London to mingle with the bell-bottomed jeans and fringed vests of the latter part of the decade. By 1969, the fashion choices of tens of millions of young American men and women were as variegated and ever-evolving as the world around them.

Cultural transformation was an irresistible force during the Sixties, and across America and around the globe civil rights, women's and gay liberation, the sexual revolution and, of course, the explosive soundtrack of R&B, soul and rock and roll informed everything from politics to fashion.

By 1969, America's youth had not only soaked in more visual and auditory stimuli in a few years than most previous generations combined, but had re-imagined virtually all of that input in the form of sartorial self-expression. In light of that new, global sensibility, Beverly Hills high schooler Rosemary Shoong's homemade "stunning leather Indian dress" wasn't just a dress. It was a time and a place, man. And it was out of sight.

Students at Woodside High in California, 1969.

High school students wearing "hippie" fashion, 1969.

High schooler Lenore Reday stops traffic while wearing a bell-bottomed jump suit in Newport Beach, Calif., 1969.

High school fashions, 1969.

High school fashions, 1969.

Southern California high school student wears old-fashioned tapestry skirt and wool shawl, 1969.

Southern California high school students, 1969.

High school student wearing bell bottoms and boots, 1969.

Student Rosemary Shoong at Beverly Hills High School, wearing a dress she made herself, 1969.

Beverly Hills High classmates show off their fashions, 1969.

High school teacher Sandy Brockman wears a bold print dress, 1969.

Corona del Mar High School students Kim Robertson, Pat Auvenshine and Pam Pepin wear "hippie" fashions, 1969.

High schooler Nina Nalhaus wears wool pants and a homemade jacket in Denver, Colo., 1969.

A Southern California high school student walks toward classmates while wearing the "Mini Jupe" skirt, 1969.

Southern California high schooler wears a buckskin vest and other hippie fashions, 1969.

Beverly Hills High School student Erica Farber, wearing a checkered and tiered outfit, walks with a boy, 1969.

Kansas high school student wearing a mini skirt, 1969.

(Photos: Arthur Schatz—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images)



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