Retro Essentials: Guide to the Decades – 1950’s Fashion

1950’s fashion is probably the most popular era for those who are into the pinup cultures to use for inspiration. Although I’m personally biased towards the 1930’s and 1940’s, the 50’s do have their charm. So let’s have a look at the fashion of the 1950’s. There are going to be a lot more videos in this post than you’d usually see in my posts, simply because there are more available.

What about the social changes from the 1940’s to the 1950’s?

Now, let us get on to the fashion. By returning to the duties of housewives, and only 1/3 of women being a part of the work force, practicality became less of a concern in fashion.

After the end of austerity and rationing, women’s fashion evolved rather rapidly. Dior created the New Look in the late 1940’s and it was the silhouette that came to be popular for years to come. Full skirts, tiny waists, and a prominent bust were back on the map. Dior remained an important designer, with brands such as Balenciaga, Balmain, Givenchy, and Chanel all being influential over the decade. In terms of innovation, you’ll be pleased to know that zippers were being used in a fair amount of cases.

Marked waists were a staple of the 1950’s, accentuated by belts and exaggerated silhouettes. Circle skirts and pleated skirts combined with a cardigan were a common combination for a casual day. Something that was really popular in the 1950’s that we almost never wear today are gloves, sometimes silk, sometimes more practical fabrics. The 1950’s dresses revealed a lot more arm than the 1940’s and gloves were often worn to add a bit of modesty and elegance.

Extravagance was an important factor during the 1950’s and came as a reaction to the end of the war, for evening wear you’ll find that silk was often used. When you view the video above you’ll also notice that an insane amount of fabric is used for a lot of the creations, another sign of wealth, affluence, and luxury.
Tailoring was very important and a lot of 1950’s tops and jackets were often rather angular, the fabric was very structured and the fit was extremely important. This is something you’ll see with a lot of vintage items, the importance of good craftsmanship and attention to detail.

Casual Colours and Patterns: white, neutral colours (beige, pale yellow), flowers, stripes, and polkadots.

Three lead words for the 1950’s? Silk, Seams, and Silhouette

To see the diversity of 1950’s fashion, I’d recommend watching this video showing designs by Irish fashion designer Sybil Connolly.


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