The word "teenager" was first coined in the 1950s, a time when teenage fashion had found its place and a niche market was created. Teenagers were now a closed group with their own feelings, style, beliefs, and ways of perceiving life; that is, their own personality.
Malcolm Barnard says in his book Fashion as Communication, "Fashion and clothing have always been explained as forms of communication". Teenagers have now their own voice to speak their mind and they manage to do it through fashion.
Being teenager is being rebellious. If you check out the decades of teen fashion you might see that they have proven to be a way of rebelling out.
Back in the fifties, when teen fashion firs appeared, it would follow the famous look of James Dean in "Rebel Without a Cause". Although, their clothes did not differ too much from the general trend in fashion, girls could be seen wearing dresses fluffed out with petticoats and crinolines under the skirt. Boys wore tight Levis, Chinos, white or black tight shirts, as well as loafers or Converse shoes with leather jackets.
Fashion is totally influenced and "manipulated" by history. The historical events put a hallmark on fashion decades, as the clothes reveal people lifestyle, conceptions, and even prejudices.
In the 1960s, fashion and music started to go hand in hand. Pop and rock music began to influence fashion in a way like never before. Fashion icons, like The Beatles, or rebellious rock stars, like Bob Dylan and Mick Jagger, were speaking on behalf of the younger generation and they represented the main force.
In the 1970s, the disco era was loud and colorful. The fabrics of the decade were polyester, acrylic and lycra. Woman's dresses were getting to their knees and men wore bell bottoms, jackets and gold chains. Platform shoes were big on the dance floor and shirt patterns were dizzying.
The 1980s came with the aerobic craze. The ultimate combination was tight, shiny stretch leggings paired with an over-sized, off-the-shoulder sweatshirt. The pop singer, Madonna was at her peak at that time and she influenced teenagers sense of style very much.
The 1990s, in terms of teen fashion, represented a mixture of a whole lot of different styles. Boy bands and girl bands of pop music were pretty eclectic in terms of clothes and they were admired by the young generation. It was the time of the platform shoe again which shows up in many shoes from sandals to tennis shoes. The colors are dramatic or pastel, while the classic color black was still used for dramatic effects in fashion.
Nowadays, teen clothing is very comfortable in all ways. The basic trends are vintage blue jeans with a trendy. Teenagers clothes need to be accessible in terms of prices, as young people spending is pretty limited within the amounts of money collected in their piggy banks.