The Swinging Sixties was a time where teenagers started to rebel against authority. Popular culture, music and fashion changed drastically in the 1960s. The Swinging Sixties was also known for starting a new social movement, called the hippie movement.


After the Second World War, and well into the 1950s, there was austerity. Austerity means that government raises taxes and limits it’s spending so it can pay off it’s debts.

Until the 1960s, teenagers didn’t usually have any money of their own that they could spend. But teenagers started being given “pocket money” by their parents, allowing them to spend their money however they wanted – without their parent’s permission.

What happened in the Swinging Sixties?

In the Swinging Sixties, there was a “cultural revolution” where political and cultural views changed, largely led by young people. Examples include the growing anti-nuclear movement (which wanted nuclear weapons to no longer be made or used) and changing views on relationships.


The Union Jack, the official flag of the United Kingdom, was used as a symbol during the Swinging Sixties. It was put on cars, clothes – pretty much anything that could have a Union Jack on it probably did!


The Swinging Sixties introduced many new fashion trends, including the miniskirt and the gingham dress. Most of the new trends were meant to rebel against what their parents thought was acceptable.

A red gingham dress like the ones that would have been worn in the 1960s | Vintage Frills
An orange and red miniskirt similar to those worn in the 1960s | Etsy

Men’s fashion in the 1960s included collarless jackets and slim trousers with heeled boots instead of shoes.

A collarless jacket


Popular music at the time was mostly pop and rock bands, such as The Beatles, Rolling Stones and The Kinks. Many of these bands also became popular in the United States. This was called the “British Invasion”.

The Beatles performing in the United States

Where did this “cultural revolution” happen?

Most of it happened in London, known back then as Swinging London. Shopping areas such as King’s Road, Kensington and Carnaby Street were iconic at the time.

Teenagers in Carnaby Street, 1966

The hippie movement

The hippie movement grew in popularity in the late 1960s in the USA and spread to other countries, including the UK. Hippies wanted to break themselves from restrictions imposed by society and find a new meaning to life.

What did hippies usually wear?

Hippies usually wore brightly-coloured clothes with unusual styles. These included bell-bottom pants and tie-dyed clothes. Men usually had beards and women usually wore very little, if any, makeup. Both men and women either wore sandals or went barefoot.

A group of people making tie-dye T-shirts in the 1960s |

How did hippies live?

Hippies usually didn’t have many things, so they could move places at any time. Hippies didn’t usually worry whether they had enough money, and they welcomed guests without any notice.

Some people lived entirely in vehicles, like the one below, so they could move around easily.

A “Hippie Truck” from 1968 | By Founders4, CC BY 2.5, Wikipedia

What did hippies believe?

Hippies believed in many political causes, including:

The “peace” symbol usually associated with the hippie movement.