Step back in time with the timeless elegance of 1950s women’s fashion. With its iconic silhouettes, feminine frocks and playful prints, this era’s fashion is still loved and celebrated today. Whether you’re looking to channel your inner Marilyn Monroe or just love the chic aesthetic, there are plenty of ways to embrace vintage glamour with 1950s women’s fashion. From full skirts to fitted pencil dresses, the possibilities are endless. In this article, we’ll give you a rundown on how to achieve this retro look and make it work for you.
The History of 1950s Women’s Fashion
The 1950s is considered one of the most pivotal moments in the history of women’s fashion. It was a time when women’s roles in society began to change, and fashion reflected this new liberated spirit. The fashion trends of the 1950s were heavily influenced by the end of World War II and the glamour of Hollywood stars.
The Birth of Dior’s New Look
Arguably the most significant development in 1950s women’s fashion was Dior’s New Look. Christian Dior’s collection, which debuted in 1947, featured a nipped-in waist, a full skirt, and rounded shoulders. This silhouette was a stark contrast to the boxy, utilitarian clothing worn during the war. With the New Look, Dior created a new standard of femininity, emphasizing curves and softness.
The New Look dress wasn’t easy to wear or affordable for all women, but it was incredibly popular nevertheless. Many women altered their thrift store and pre-war clothing to emulate the style. Other designers also began to incorporate the New Look features into their designs, creating a new fashion standard that would last for the rest of the decade.
Aside from Christian Dior, movie stars of the 1950s also greatly influenced fashion during the decade. Thanks to the growing popularity of cinema, the glitzy, glamorous, and elegant fashion styles of actresses such as Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, and Marilyn Monroe were highly sought after.
The fashion trends of the time included tight-fitting pencil skirts, fitted cashmere sweaters, capri pants, and feminine blouses. Women’s clothing became more colorful, with patterns and fabrics influenced by the Art Deco movement of the 1920s.
Color, Prints and Textures
1950s women’s fashion evolved past the New Look silhouette and into a wider array of colors, prints, and textures. Bold polka dots, gingham prints, and stripes were frequently seen in women’s dresses and blouses. Day dresses and suits were typically made of cotton, linen and wool, while evening gowns were made of silk, satin and lace.
The popularity of embroidery and beading on clothing also marked the decade. Tailored suits and jackets were frequently decorated with ornate hand-stitched designs, beading and rhinestones.
The Silhouettes of 1950s Women’s Fashion
The 1950s saw a huge shift in women’s fashion as wartime restrictions were lifted, and designers began to experiment with new shapes and styles. The result was a series of iconic silhouettes that have remained popular to this day. Here are some of the most important:
The Cinched Waist
One of the most defining features of 1950s fashion was the cinched waist. Dresses, jackets, and tops were all designed to emphasise a woman’s natural waistline, often with the help of a wide belt or sash. This helped to create an hourglass figure, which was considered the height of femininity at the time.
Another key feature of 1950s fashion was full, voluminous skirts. These were often made from multiple layers of fabric and were designed to flatter the waist and hips while creating a dramatic, swishing effect when the wearer moved. Full skirts were particularly popular for formal occasions and were often paired with slim-fitting tops to balance out their volume.
While full skirts were popular for formal occasions, many women also embraced the more fitted, streamlined silhouette of the wiggle dress. Wiggle dresses were so named because of their tight, narrow shape, which forced the wearer to “wiggle” as she walked. They were often made from stretchy fabrics like jersey or wool and were designed to flatter the curves of the body.
The Fabrics of 1950s Women’s Fashion
The 1950s marked the beginning of the post-World War II era, and people were enjoying a newfound sense of freedom and prosperity. This era also gave rise to some iconic fashion styles, especially for women, featuring luxurious and elegant fabrics that were used to create unique designs. Let’s explore the different fabrics that were popular during this time and how they were used to create fashionable clothing items.
Silk was one of the most popular fabrics of the 1950s. It is a versatile fabric that is soft, lightweight, and has a natural shine. Silk was used to create a wide range of clothing items, including dresses, blouses, skirts, and scarves. One of the most iconic silk clothing items of the 1950s was the silk scarf. These scarves came in a variety of colors and prints and were tied around the neck to add a touch of elegance to any outfit.
Satin is another luxurious fabric that was commonly used in women’s fashion during the 1950s. This fabric has a glossy surface and a smooth texture and was used to create dresses, blouses, and lingerie. Satin was often associated with evening wear and was used to create glamorous dresses that were perfect for dancing.
Tulle is a sheer netting fabric that was frequently used in the 1950s to add volume and texture to dresses, skirts, and Veils. It was often layered under a dress to give it a voluminous look. One of the most famous dresses of the 1950s was the “New Look” dress, created by Christian Dior in 1947, which featured a full tulle skirt that became a symbol of femininity and glamour. Tulle was also used to create bridal veils that added a fairy-tale-like quality to the brides’ outfits.
The Colors and Prints of 1950s Women’s Fashion
The 1950s are often known as the “Golden Age” of fashion for women. During this era, fashion trends were classic, sophisticated, and elegant. The women’s clothing featured vivid colors and bold prints, which eventually became the hallmark of the fashion icons in the 50s like Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn.
Popular Colors in 1950s Women’s Fashion
The colors that dominated the fashion industry in the 1950s were rich, bold shades. The colors had intense contrasts and were used dramatically to create unique looks. The most popular and iconic hues were:
- Red: Red was a favorite color in the 1950s and was used to create bold dresses, skirts, and blouses. Classic red lipstick was also a crucial accessory for every woman’s makeup routine, and it is still fashionable today.
- Pink: Pink was popular for both subtle and bold looks in the 1950s fashion trend. Baby pink was used for sweaters, cardigans, and accessories. While bold pink colors were used in polka dots and prints.
- Green: Among all of the colors, fresh shades of green were the most popular for spring and summer dresses. The colors represented new beginnings and were a perfect fit for the post-war era.
- Blue: Blue had a soothing effect and was used for romantic dresses, blouses, and skirts.
Popular Prints in 1950s Women’s Fashion
Prints were used in bold, overlapping colors, that had a lot of contrast, with designs that ranged from playful polka dots to more elaborate designs, such as houndstooth and stripes.
The most famous prints of the 1950s were:
- Polka dots: Polka dots were the hottest print on the fashion runway during this era and were used in everything from dresses to shoes and handbags.
- Houndstooth: This unique print had sharp angles and black and white colors that made it a prominent design on fashionable women’s coats and skirts.
- Stripes: Striped dresses were popular among the women of the 1950s, as they created the illusion of a slimmer shape. The striped style remained in fashion well into the 1960s and has since been an iconic design that women still wear today.
- Gingham: This print was a popular choice in the summer, ranging from subtle checks to bold designs. Gingham patterns became wildly popular on dresses and blouses, becoming one of the most popular summer prints in 1950s women’s fashion.
Each color and print in the 1950s women’s fashion contributed to the mix of styles and trends that this era is still fashionable today. It is clear that the 1950s fashion era has left a lasting legacy on the fashion world.
The Accessories of 1950s Women’s Fashion
Complete your vintage look with 1950s accessories, including gloves, scarves, and hats, and learn how to incorporate them into your modern wardrobe.
Gloves were a staple accessory in the 1950s, and they came in a variety of styles and lengths. Shorter gloves were worn during the day and longer gloves were appropriate for formal events. White was the most popular color, but gloves were also available in black, red, and pastel shades. To add a touch of 1950s glamour to your modern wardrobe, try pairing a pair of white gloves with a sleek black dress or a colorful skirt and blouse combination.
Scarves were not only fashionable in the 1950s but also practical. They were often worn to keep hair neatly in place, protect the head and neck from the sun, or add a pop of color to an outfit. Scarves came in a variety of fabrics, including silk, cotton, and chiffon. To incorporate a vintage scarf into your modern wardrobe, try tying it around your neck as a statement accessory or tying it to your handbag for a unique twist.
1950s hats were worn for both fashion and function, and there were a wide variety to choose from. Berets, cloche hats, and pillbox hats were popular choices, as were wide-brimmed sun hats. When incorporating a vintage hat into your modern wardrobe, keep the rest of your outfit simple and let the hat be the statement piece. For example, pair a classic straw sun hat with a simple sundress or add a pillbox hat to your little black dress for a touch of elegance.
Jewelry was an essential part of 1950s women’s fashion and was often worn in large, eye-catching pieces. Pearls, diamond studs, and brooches were popular choices, as were colorful clip-on earrings. To add a touch of vintage glamour to your modern wardrobe, try layering several strands of pearls or wearing a statement brooch with a simple blouse or sweater.
Handbags in the 1950s were typically small and structured, often made from leather or wicker. Classic styles like the clutch and the satchel were popular options, and the addition of a top handle made them easy to carry. To incorporate a vintage bag into your modern wardrobe, try pairing a small structured handbag with a pencil skirt and blouse or using a wicker bag as a summer accessory.
How to Embrace 1950s Women’s Fashion Today
Women’s fashion in the 1950s was all about emphasizing your curves and flattering your figure with fitted, feminine clothing. This era was marked by full skirts, high waistlines, fitted tops, and elegant accessories. If you’re a fan of vintage glamour, here are some tips and inspiration for incorporating 1950s women’s fashion into your modern wardrobe.
Find Vintage-Inspired Pieces
If you’re looking to add some authentic vintage pieces to your wardrobe, start by searching thrift stores, vintage clothing stores, and online marketplaces for items from the 1950s. Look for dresses with full skirts and fitted bodices, high-waisted skirts and pants, and feminine blouses. You can also find vintage-inspired clothing from modern retailers that mimic the silhouettes and styles of the 1950s.
Accessorize with 1950s-Inspired Pieces
Adding the right accessories can instantly elevate your modern outfit to 1950s glamour. Look for a pair of elegant gloves, a structured handbag, a wide belt to cinch your waist, and some glamorous sunglasses. Hats were also a staple of women’s fashion in the 1950s, so consider adding a chic pillbox hat or a floppy sunhat to your wardrobe.
Mix and Match with Modern Clothing
You don’t have to go full vintage to incorporate 1950s women’s fashion into your wardrobe. Try mixing and matching vintage pieces with more modern, everyday items to achieve a 1950s-inspired look. Pair a full skirt with a simple t-shirt and a pair of modern sneakers, or wear a fitted, vintage top with a pair of high-waisted jeans. Don’t be afraid to experiment and find what works for you.
Embrace Bold Prints and Colors
Women’s fashion in the 1950s was characterized by bright colors and bold prints. Don’t be afraid to add a pop of color to your wardrobe with a bold, red dress or a bright, printed top. Polka dots, gingham, and floral prints were all popular during this era, so consider adding some of these prints to your wardrobe for a classic, vintage look.
Pay Attention to Fit
One of the keys to women’s fashion in the 1950s was emphasizing your curves with fitted clothing. When incorporating vintage or vintage-inspired pieces into your wardrobe, pay attention to fit. Look for clothing that flatters your figure and emphasizes your waistline. Avoid baggy or shapeless clothing that obscures your figure.
Care for Your Vintage Pieces
If you do invest in authentic vintage pieces, it’s important to take good care of them to ensure they last for years to come. Follow the care instructions on the tag, or take your clothing to a professional cleaner who specializes in vintage garments. Store your vintage clothing in a cool, dry place, away from sunlight and moisture, to keep them in good condition.
Frequently Asked Questions
|What styles were popular in the 1950s?||Some popular styles of the 1950s included full skirts, fitted blouses, pencil skirts, capri pants, and swing dresses.|
|What fabric was commonly used in 1950s fashion?||Cotton, rayon, and silk were commonly used fabrics in 1950s fashion.|
|What types of accessories were popular in the 1950s?||Some popular accessories included gloves, hats, scarves, and pearl necklaces.|
|What hairstyles were popular in the 1950s?||The most popular hairstyles of the 1950s included the bouffant, the poodle cut, and the beehive.|
|What kind of shoes were popular in the 1950s?||Some popular shoes of the 1950s included saddle shoes, stilettos, and loafers.|
|Where can I buy 1950s style clothing?||You can find 1950s style clothing at vintage clothing stores, online vintage retailers, and modern clothing stores that offer vintage-inspired clothing.|
Thank You for Embracing Vintage Glamour
Thank you for taking the time to learn about 1950s women’s fashion and how you can incorporate this timeless style into your wardrobe. By embracing vintage glamour, you can bring a touch of elegance and sophistication to your everyday attire.
Be sure to visit our website again for more fashion tips and inspiration. Let us know if you have any questions or feedback by leaving a comment below. Stay stylish!