What can you learn about teenage fashion from source one?

A woman who grew up in the 1950s writes source 1. She is talking in the 1980s therefore it is a secondary source. It tells us about teenage fashion in the 1950s, and the lengths that the teenagers went to, to keep up with the new fashions. Being something that played a huge role in a teenager’s life. Although it is only one persons opinion about what happened in the 1950s.
It tells us of the female fashion in the 1950s. The girls in the 1950s went to such lengths to buy a sewing machine. ‘When I first started work I bought a sewing machine’. Also the girls purchased new material every week to make new clothes ‘every week I’d buy material to make a dress for the weekend’. We can infer from this that the girls were desperate to stay up to date with the fashions of the time. The fashions were full skirts, and lots of petticoats. The amount of time that they spent on fashion was tremendous. If they made a dress every week, that is a lot of time to spend on fashion. The source stresses the importance of fashion in the minds of young women (teenage girls). It was so important to them that they had to make their own clothes.
The idea that they made their clothes themselves lets us infer that the shops did not yet make the clothes that they wanted. It says that the ‘dress-makers were always busy’.

But although this source tells us a lot about the fashions for women it neglects the male fashion. What the teenage boys were wearing is not explained in this source. Also the opinion of only one woman is expressed. From this source we cannot be sure that the woman speaking was the only person wearing those specific clothes.
This source shows the opinion of one woman in the 1950s. But we have to speculate upon the fact that it may not be a routine followed by all the other teenage girls in England in the 1950s.
IN WHAT WAYS DO SOURCES TWO AND THREE AGREE ABOUT LIFE IN THE 1950s
The two sources are statistical; they do not say were they are taken from. Source 2 is about the average weekly wages during 1950 and 1960. Source 3 shows an increase in consumer spending in certain areas from 1948 to 1960. They both support each other in some way or another.
Source 2 shows an average increase in the average amount of weekly wages from 1950 to 1960. Source 3 shows an increase in consumer spending. To be exact it shows an increase of about 6 times. Therefore as wages went up, they had more disposable income and there was more demand for goods that were previously unavailable to the general public.
As wages went up so did the standard of living in the 1950s. We can infer from this that the standard of living increased in the 1950s.
There are some limitations to the statistical sources, because as with most statistics they are not exact, they are averages, they are generalised and vague, it was unlikely they could have asked everyone (only a small percent of the British population) and they could have asked people in one particular area which might be different to another area.
Both the sources show a major increase in money and spending. As before the war, the 1940s, the average person did not have much of a disposable income compared to the average person in the 1950s. In the 1950s more money was around so people could afford new things that they were previously unable to buy. Also consumer goods were getting cheaper because of mass production and the assembly line. Therefore in the 40s the children could not be teenagers because the teenagers need the money and the goods were expensive and in the 1940s there was not a lot of money around in Britain. In the 1950s there was more money around, so the general public could spend more money on luxuries. Rather than going without.
SOURCES ONE, TWO AND THREE ARE ABOUTLIFE IN THE 1950S. HOW USEFUL ARE THEY ABOUT LIFE THEN?
Source 1 tells us about the importance of fashion to female teenagers. Source 2 tells us about the average weekly wages in the country during 1950 to 1960. Source 3 tells us about the consumer spending on non-essential items. Although these sources have their strong points they also have their limitations.
Source 1 tells us that fashion was very important to the female teenagers. Judging by the amount of time, effort and money that the woman in source 1 put in, fashion must have played a very big part in her life. She says that she spent her first wage on a ‘sewing machine’. She also brought new material every week, ‘every week I’d buy new material’ she said. Also we can infer from this that if she bought the material and the sewing machine, the shops did not yet sell or even make for that matter make the clothes that the teenage girls wanted.
Source 2 tells us that from 1950 to 1960 the average weekly wages rose from �7.28 in 1950 to �14.10 in 1960. This tells us that the average person had more money to spend on non-essential items, more disposable income. We can infer from source 2 that people spent their money on recreational goods, and in source 3 this is confirmed. People spent more money on private transport in 1960 than in 1948. Radios, television sets, and electrical goods were spent more on during the same time period. These two sources, (sources 2 & 3), tell us only about the average person but not about the people who were not affected by the economic boom. They also do not give us a comparison with another time period.
Source 1 is limited because it tells us a lot about the fashion for women; it neglects the male fashion (teenage boy’s fashion). It is only the opinion of one woman expressed and from the source we cannot be sure that the woman speaking was the person wearing these specific clothes.
The sources are not very useful about general life in the 50s, as they say nothing about the extremes of poverty or wealth. The information is not very specific, it’s too broad. Also during the 50s judging from the sources no politics occurred. But obviously there is some sort of political news happening in Britain during the 50s. None of the three sources even speculate upon the fact of politics.
In conclusion the three sources are not very good in telling us about life in the 1950s, as they do not talk about most things, such as politics. The sources are too narrow on what they say. They only talk about one thing that happened. By using the sources we learn that teenage girls made their own clothes, the averages wages in the country went up, and that spending on non-essential goods also went up. Surely there must have been more to the 1950s than this? Life is about loads of things e.g. crime, religion, unemployment, not just about money and fashion. There obviously was but the sources do not tell us this.
DOES SOURCE FOUR SUPPORT THE EVIDENCE OF SOURCES 1 2 & 3? EXPLAIN YOUR ANSWER.
Source four is from the book, ENGLAND, HALF ENGLISH, written in 1961 by Colin Mcinnes. This source is therefore a secondary source.
Sources 1 and 4 are slightly different as in source 1 it says, “dress-makers were always busy”. This shows that the dressmakers did not have time for teenagers and thought that they were a waste of time and that they were not important. But in source 4 it says that they were ‘studied with respect’. We can infer from this that the adults paid attention to the teenagers. The sources are probably contradicting themselves because of the time p, source one was about the 1950s and source four is about 1961. Source 4 says teenagers have lots of spare money, but source1 says she couldn’t afford to buy new clothes and had to make her own.
Source 2 supports source 4. This is because source two says that in 1960 the average weekly wages went up to �14.10. In source 4 it says teenagers ‘are left with more spending money than most of their elders’. This is because the teenagers do not have the same amount of responsibilities, or as the source puts it, ‘obligations’ that the adults have. Adults have families to worry about, adults have to put food on the table, and adults have to pay the bills. Where as teenagers do not have these ‘obligations’ to worry about. The source clearly says that they only have to pay ‘a pound or two’ to their parents, and this is considerably less than their elders have to pay out of their wages.
Source 3 is about what consumers spend their money on. It says that in 1960 �600 million was spent on motorcars and cycles, �463 million on radios, television sets, and electrical goods and �352 million up from �169 million in 1948 on recreation. Source four supports this by saying that the entertainment industry studies the teenagers ‘with respect’. This shows that the entertainment industry values the teenagers because they are their number one target audience. Teenagers spend more money on entertainment and if the entertainment industry studies them ‘with respect’; it shows that the entertainment industry knows that teenagers are powerful and wealthy.
In conclusion source four is a very strong source as the three sources support it some way or another. Although source one differs from source four slightly they have the same couple of points. But the sources 2 & 3 back up what is said in source four.
HOW VALUABLE ARE SOURCES 5 & 6 AS EVIDENCE ABOUT THE IMPACT OF YOUTH CULTURE?
Source 5 is very valuable in shoeing the impact of youth culture. Although it talks only about clothes and fashion. Source 6 talks about ‘teddy children’, and it is quite valuable. But it is rather brief.
Source 5 is from a ‘history of post war Britain’, Peter Lane writes it in 1971 and therefore it is a secondary source. This source mostly talks about fashion mostly. This source also talks about the new slang that was first employed by teenagers and the shops in which they purchased their clothes. ‘Fab’ and ‘gear’ were the particular words used.
‘In the 1940s, Dior…had catered for the very rich and the less well to do had imitated these fashions’. We can infer from this that the less rich, the general public, did not have any designers specifically aimed towards them. But when the teenage revolution occurred in the 1950s the designers created clothes that were ‘simple’ and also, most importantly ‘relatively cheap’. We can infer from this that the designers had seen the new culture of young people referred to as a ‘classless society’. They were called a ‘classless society’ because where the adults were separated by lots of disposable income and not much disposable income. The youths had now received roughly the same amount of money as each other. So if you saw one youth in the street you could not distinguish between one or the other. Whether they had come from a richer or poorer family.
The youths in the 1950s went to London’s Carnaby Street for clothes. Carnaby Street became their ‘Mecca’. We can infer from the use of the word ‘Mecca’ that the youths would go to Carnaby street in the thousands, fairly regularly. They would pilgrimage to Carnaby Street. Before the 1950s the designers, as I have said before, would design for the very rich and the poorer would imitate these styles. Then after 1950 the designers would design for the young girls and the styles would be copied by the older. But the older women would complain that they couldn’t find the ‘clothes they needed’.
Source 6 is taken from the broadsheet newspaper, THE TIMES, on the 12th May 1956. It is therefore a primary source. This source is quite valuable to find out the impact of youth culture. Where source 5 spoke of clothes and slang it did not talk of the money that the youth had. Source 6 says that the youths, or ‘teddy children’, were ‘highly solvent’. We can infer from this that the youths had plenty of ready cash for their disposable.
In conclusion as good as these sources may be they have their limitations. Sources 5 & 6 both neglect the music business. This is bad because music plays a vital part in a teenager’s life. They both talk mostly about fashion mostly. Judging from these two sources one might say that fashion was the only thing in a teenagers life. This is not true as music and other factors play a vital role in a teenagers’ life. Source 5 is useful in telling us about the money and teenage culture. But what they both do not tell us about the effect on society that teenagers had.
HOW CAN SOURCES 4 5 6 & 7 BE USED TO HELP EXPLAIN WHY ADULTS SOMETIMES FOUND TEENAGERS DIFFICULT TO UNDERSTAND?
Source 4 is from a book ENGLAND, HALF ENGLISH by Colin Mcinnes, it is written in 1961. Source 5 is taken also from a book A HISTORY OF POST WAR BRITAIN by Peter Lane written in 1971, it is a secondary source. Source 6 is from an article in the times newspaper, on the date 12 may 1956. Source 7 is taken from another newspaper, a local newspaper, the Daily Dispatch, from the date 15 October 1954.
The children in the 1950s were more privileged than their parents. In that the parents grew up during both the wars and in the 30s and the 40s where the children had no prospects, no job, and no money. During the war there was rationing and hardship. There was and still is a generation gap between the parents and their children. In the 50s the children, (teenagers), now had the money, the prospects, and the jobs. This was because of the economic boom. Whereas before in the 30s and the 40s the youths had no futures, now the youths had futures, money, and prospects. They had money to spend to spend on themselves. The parents had very different upbringings to that of their children. Also there were huge changes in the country that they were brought up in.
Source 4 is taken from a book ‘England, Half English’ by Colin Mcinnes. It is a secondary source. This source says ‘today, youth has money’. This implies that before the fifties, the children did not have money, or as much money as they have got in the 50s. The youth in the 50s had more money than their elders had. The teenagers have a new culture, which their parents do not understand because, they have never experienced it.
Source 5 is taken from a book ‘A History of post war Britain’, written by Peter Lane in 1971, this source is therefore a secondary source. It says that the fashions would start at the oldest and richest people and spread downwards to the rest of the general public. But in the 50s the fashion started at the teens and went upwards to the older generations of women. The older women complained that they found it ‘impossible to find the clothes that they needed’. We can infer from this that the middle-aged women did not understand the new fashions that were beginning to appear on Carnaby Street.
Source 6 is taken from an article in THE TIMES it is in the edition that was published on 12 May 1956. This article is a primary source. This article expresses views that the children are now ‘highly solvent’. From this we can infer that the children have plenty of ready cash. This source shows that the children have a ‘strong sense of corporate identity’. This suggests that the businesses had respect for teenagers as most of their money came from them. ‘Simple…culture’, this was when the article was talking about teenagers. It says ‘simple’, that is ‘simple’ to an adult. We can infer from this quote that adults found the youth culture ‘simple’ and probably stupid as well. These adults might have had some fear about the youths because what people do not understand they fear. The adults did not understand the youths; they thought it was ‘simple’.
Source seven is taken from a local newspaper, ‘the Daily Dispatch’; the article is taken out of the edition printed on 15 October 1954. This shows very clearly that adults found teenagers difficult to understand because there is a sense of bewilderment about it. ‘A crowd of idol worshippers’ was the words that the reporter used to describe the concert. These words would not be used nowadays to describe a pop concert. We can infer from this that the reporter writing the article and many like him/her had ever experienced something like this before in their lives. They were brought up during the times of hardship, the war, and depression. At their times there was no such thing as ‘POP’ music it was only in the 1950s where all this came in. it says the voice was one thing they ‘love and fear’, this shows the amount of love that they had for this person, Laine the reporter says, ‘the adulation of this man bewilders me’.
This shows again that this is a scene completely alien to him/her. We again can infer from this that the reporter and many others like him/her had never seen this type of concert before. In the adults times they went into a concert hall and listened to the music nice and quietly. Whereas in the 50s the audience went crazy at every word that the artist would sing or even for that matter say. If the artist told them to be quiet they would, the source says that the audience were silent at once Laine had told them to be. ‘Laine impressed upon his fans that they should remain silent during such a song’. This would again be something alien to the reporter. In their time they would listen to their parents like that, and these youths were obeying a complete stranger as a parent figure. Basically the adults were bewildered by what was going on.
In conclusion adults found teenagers hard to understand because they were brought up completely differently. In the parents time there was no prospects, no jobs, and no money. But in the 50s there were prospects and jobs and most importantly money. There was a generation gap between the parents and their children.
TEENAGE CULTURE EMERGED FOR THE FIRST TIME IN THE 1950s. HOW USEFUL ARE THESE SOURCES IN HELPING YOU TO UNDERSTAND WHY THIS HAPPENED?
Youth culture emerged for the first time in the 1950s. It was then when people used the term ‘teenager’. Before this time no one knew what the term meant. Before in the 30s and 40s when the teenagers’ parents were growing up there was no prospects, jobs or money. They were times of hardship, and rationing. They were times of hard work. The youth during the 40s did not do the kinds of things that teenagers do now or what teenagers did in 1950s. In the 30s/40s when a youth came to the age of 13 or 14 years old they stopped their education and started to find jobs, if they were boys with their fathers or if they were girls with their mothers at home. It was not a very happy time compared to nowadays. Whereas in the 1950s and now youths are a new age group, mutated from just youths or young adults to teenagers.
The teenage culture in the 50s was about music, fashion, teddy boys, dancing, and money. The music industry had an effect on the emergence of teenagers because there was more variety of music for people to listen to. Different types of people (e.g. age groups-teenagers) were listening to different types of music. Teenagers could have a type of music that they could call their own. To increase the impact of music to help emerge teenagers was Radio. There were more radio stations, cheaper records (because of mass production) and more people had radios.
Radio programmes were also aiming at teenage segments. Like music and Radio, TV had a similar affect. The technology had improved and there were a wide variety of programmes and channels that meant they could aim at different market segments, like youth (teenagers). This could help develop teenagers by giving them something they could feel was for themselves and others who were in the same boat. People were working fewer hours and had more free time along with more pay so that people could afford to buy luxury goods/entertainment (e.g. cinema), so that the teenager could have somewhere to go and be with others in their position and socialise.
Source one is not the most helpful source that we are given as it is only one persons opinion of the 1950s. It talks about the fashion for a particular girl in the 1950s. We cannot be sure that the girl is the only person wearing this particular style. This source totally neglects talking about male fashion in the 50s. This source does not tell us anything about why teenage culture emerged in the 1950s.
Source 2 is better at telling us why teenage culture emerged. It is a set of statistics telling us about the average weekly wages from 1950 to 1960. It helps us to understand why teenage culture emerged because it says wages increased in the 1950s. We can infer from this that as the wages increased so did the amount of disposable income that the teenagers had. Also this is reinforced by the main part of teenage culture being money. If there were more money in the country, there would obviously be more in the pockets of the young people that worked.
Source 3 is also a statistical source. It is also good because it tells us again of the money situation in England in the 50s. This source tells us about consumer spending; it shows that in 1960 more money was spent on recreation, electrical goods and private transport. It says ‘1960 recreation �352 million’ in contrast to ‘1948 recreation �169 million’. We can see from this that as consumer-spending rose so did the wages, which is true. We can also infer from this that teenagers were spending more on recreation facilities as they had more disposable income to spend on it.
Source 4 is much more useful. It is taken from a book, England, half English, written by Colin Mcinnes in 1961. It talks directly about the youth. It says that the youth has money and that they have become a ‘power’. We can infer from this that the youth were beginning to be recognised as a group of people rather than just young people, or mini versions of their parents. We can also infer that teenagers had their own point of view things and didn’t listen to their parents all the time. It supports source 3 because it says that the ‘youths are studied with respect’ by the ‘entertainment industry’. We can infer from this that they are spending more on the entertainment and the industry tries to bring in things that the youths will want. It supports source 2 by saying that youths have money.
Source 5 is again useful because it talks about fashion and the language that teenagers use. It is taken from a book called ‘A History of post war Britain’, written in 1971. Fashion is a very important thing to a teenager in the 1950s and source 5 talks mostly about fashion mostly. New words like ‘fab’ and ‘gear’ were used for the first time in the 1950s. Before the 50s there probably was no teenage slang, or much slang for that matter. Nowadays there is ‘bad’ & ‘wicked’ etc. this source shows the amount of love that teenagers had for fashion.
Source 6 is an ok source but not the best because it shows teenagers had a culture but not why it emerged. This source is taken from THE TIMES on 12 May 1956. ‘Highly solvent’, again this is another source saying that the youths had more money than ever before. ‘Tremendously vigorous culture’, we can infer from this that the teenage culture was very vibrant and a new and fresh thing that the adults had trouble understanding. They had a ‘strong sense of corporate identity’; this shows that teenagers had businesses trying hard to make new products aimed specifically at teenagers.
Source 7 is about music and how it affects teenagers in the 50s. It is not very useful in telling us about why teenage culture emerged. Although it does talk a lot about music, it says a ‘crowd of idol worshippers’, we can infer from this that the audience was loving everything that the artist, Laine, did, his words, his movements etc. this source shows the amount of bewilderment that adults had for a scene like this. It says ‘the adulation of this man bewilders me’. The reporter is shocked and astounded by what he/she sees. This source tells us not about why teenage culture emerged.
Source 8 tells us about the type of music that the teenagers listened to. But again not why teenage culture emerged. This source is taken from a book by CAR Hills, ‘growing up in great Britain in the 1950s’, written in 1983. It is therefore a secondary source. This source tells us that there were a lot of pop singers. ‘Legions of young pop singers’, we can infer from this that lots of people had decided to make some money out of these youths, who now have money to spend, upon non-essential goods. They had probably realised that music was important to the youths.
In conclusion the reason that teenage culture emerged was because of the economic boom that happened in this country in 1950s. Because the youths had some money to spare they decided to spend it on recreational items and products that they wanted to purchase. If they had been under the obligations of their parents, who had to look after more than just themselves the teenage culture would probably not have emerged.

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