What can you learn about teenage fashion from source one?

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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.


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.


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.

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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 ...

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