Revisiting the Classic Look: 1950s Women Fashion

Traveling back in time to the fashion era of the 1950s, we find a unique blend of elegance and simplicity that has become a timeless trend. 1950s women’s fashion was all about chic silhouettes, pastel colors, and polka dot prints that made women look their best. The classic and timeless style and shape of the era is a fashion statement that will never go out of style. In this article, we revisit 1950s women’s fashion to understand how it has evolved and why it still has a place in contemporary fashion.

Revisiting the Classic Look: 1950s Women Fashion
Revisiting the Classic Look: 1950s Women Fashion

The 1950s Fashion: An Introduction

The 1950s marked a significant shift in the world of fashion. Coming out of the austerity of the war years, women were eager for a new style that would embrace femininity and glamour. This era was marked by an explosion of new fashion trends, with designers and retailers rushing to meet the growing demand.

The Style of the 1950s Fashion

The 1950s fashion was characterized by a focus on the waist, with many popular styles accentuating an hourglass figure. Dresses typically featured full or circle skirts that flared out from the waistline, often paired with a fitted top or blouse. This silhouette was designed to emphasize the natural feminine figure and create a youthful, playful look.

For daywear, women often wore shirtwaist dresses or separates, which featured a tailored blouse paired with a skirt or pants. These styles were versatile and easy to wear, and they quickly became a wardrobe staple for many women. Casual wear also became more popular during this era, with the rise of iconic styles like the poodle skirt and pedal pushers.

Trends in 1950s Fashion

  • Full Skirts: As mentioned, full skirts were a hallmark of 1950s fashion. Popular styles included the circle skirt and the poodle skirt, which featured a full or gathered silhouette and often showcased bold patterns or prints.
  • Pants: While pants had been worn by women in previous decades, they became increasingly fashionable during the 1950s. Styles like pedal pushers and capri pants were popular for casual wear, while tailored trousers were common in more formal settings.
  • The New Look: The “New Look” was popularized by Christian Dior and marked a departure from the boxy, practical styles of the war years. This silhouette featured a fitted bodice, full skirt, and nipped-in waist, and quickly became one of the most iconic styles of the decade.

Influence of 1950s Fashion

The influence of 1950s fashion can still be felt in modern clothing design, with many contemporary designers drawing inspiration from this era. The popularity of vintage clothing has also given rise to a renewed appreciation for 1950s styles, which continue to capture the imagination of modern audiences.

Overall, the 1950s was a time of exciting new trends and bold fashion choices, and it continues to be an enduring source of inspiration for designers and fashion lovers alike.

The Iconic Pieces of 1950s Fashion

The 1950s is a decade of fashion trend that has been revisited time and time again. And why not? It was a decade of style that sophisticated women and men alike still strive to emulate. The fashion pieces that originated in the fifties not only highlight the beauty of the female form but is also a demonstration of sophistication and grace.

The Full Skirt Dress

The full skirt dress is an iconic fashion trend of the 1950s. It was a departure from the austere and somber tones of clothing that was worn during the war years. These dresses were a statement piece of their own with full skirts that flaunted the female form. They were usually made of taffeta or chiffon materials and had layers of petticoats underneath them to make them stand out. These dresses came with fitted tops to balance out the skirt volume, and the waistline was emphasized with belts or sashes.

  • Some popular full skirt dress styles are:
    • Tea-Length Full Skirt Dress – a dress that falls to mid-calf length.
    • Swing Dress – a dress with a full circle skirt that swings as you walk.
    • Poodle Skirt – a full skirt adorned with a felt poodle applique.

The Pencil Skirt

In contrast to the full skirt trend, the pencil skirt was also growing in popularity. This skirt was simple, yet it accentuated the curves of a woman’s body. This was because, instead of flaring out, it tapered in towards the hem, creating that iconic hourglass silhouette. It was a perfect piece for both the office and an evening out. Women usually paired their pencil skirts with a form-fitting blouse or sweater for a refined look.

  • Some popular pencil skirt styles are:
    • High-Waisted Pencil Skirt – a skirt that cinches at the waist, emphasizing the hourglass shape.
    • Leather Pencil Skirt – a skirt made of leather, adding edge to this otherwise classic piece.
    • Denim Pencil Skirt – a skirt made of denim, giving off a more casual vibe.

The Kitten Heels

The kitten heel was as popular in the 1950s as it is now. It served as a middle ground between the stiletto and the flat. It was elegant and sophisticated, yet it didn’t sacrifice comfort. The kitten heel was an excellent accompaniment to the full skirt dresses and pencil skirts of the time, creating a classic look that has influenced fashion to this day.

The Bobby Socks

The Cherry on top of the 1950s classic look was the bobby socks. This fashion trend originated in the 1940s but reached its height of popularity in the 1950s. These ankle socks were white, folded down at the top, and paired with saddle shoes or loafers. It was a fashion statement that gave the full skirt dresses and pencil skirts a youthful twist, highlighting the playful and carefree spirit of the generation.

The Role of Hollywood in 1950s Fashion

The 1950s was a decade of glamour, femininity, and elegance, and much of the credit for this era’s fashion goes to Hollywood. With Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, and Grace Kelly leading the way, Hollywood played a significant role in shaping the fashion of the 1950s, with their style influencing the masses of adoring fans around the world.

1. Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe was one of the most iconic stars of the 1950s, with her sultry looks and hourglass figure. She was known for her glamorous outfits, such as the famous white halter dress she wore in The Seven Year Itch. Monroe was a fashion trailblazer, popularizing curve-hugging pencil skirts, halter tops, and figure-flattering dresses. Her style was so popular that fashion designers of the time began creating clothing specifically to suit her style.

2. Audrey Hepburn

Audrey Hepburn was a style icon in the 1950s with her gamine looks and feminine style. Her wardrobe in the 1954 film Sabrina, designed by the legendary Hubert de Givenchy, showcased her minimalist, elegant style, with simple dresses, clean lines, and iconic accessories. Hepburn is also best known for her chic and classic little black dress in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

3. Grace Kelly

Grace Kelly was a true fashion icon during the 1950s, with her style evoking elegant and timeless sophistication. She preferred simple yet refined pieces and was a fan of high-waisted skirts, tailored blouses, and pastel colors. Kelly’s iconic wedding dress, designed by Helen Rose, is still influencing bridal fashion today.

However, her most legendary fashion moment came in the 1954 film Rear Window, where she played the fashionable yet resourceful Lisa Fremont. Kelly would wear eight different outfits throughout the film, with many of them regarded as iconic outfits in movie history. One of her most memorable pieces in the film was her stunning emerald green evening gown with a long-sleeved bolero jacket.

Moreover, not only did these legendary women sport incredible fashion, they also inspired other fashion trends that are still revered by women of all ages throughout history.

The Evolution of 1950s Fashion: From Daywear to Eveningwear

The 1950s marked the end of World War II and the beginning of a time of economic prosperity and growth. With new fashion designers emerging, the style of clothes changed dramatically and quickly. This section will track the evolution of the 1950s fashion from daywear to eveningwear, highlighting the major trends, including cocktail dresses and ball gowns.

The Start of a New Fashion Era

In the 1950s, fashion transformed from the wartime utilitarian look to a more romantic, feminine style. Women’s clothing became more fitted while maintaining a focus on emphasized curves, with the development of bustier tops and fuller skirts. The emphasis on fabric durability with clothes became obsolete and was replaced with a focus on fashion experimentation and change. Fashion designers flocked to couture as people began to express their fashion sense through their clothes.

Trends in Daywear

The daywear of the 1950s focused on practicality and function. Despite a focus on practicality, fashion and style were not lost. Two major styles emerged during this time: the shirtwaist dress and the dirndl dress. The shirtwaist dress was a polished dress that featured a fitted bodice, full skirt, and a buttoned-up collar, while the dirndl dress was a peasant dress with a fitted bodice, full skirt, and pinafore.

Trends in Eveningwear

Eveningwear in the 1950s featured a newly found femininity, which was a stark contrast to the masculine designs of the wartime era. Women’s dresses focused on their bodies’ curves with form-fitting silhouettes, which were accentuated with the use of corsets, bustiers, and girdles. The use of tulle, lace, and chiffon was introduced to create a softer and romantic flair to the garments.

Cocktail Dresses

The cocktail dress became a critical piece in women’s fashion during the 1950s. It was a dress that could be worn for any semi-formal or less formal occasions. Cocktail dresses featured knee-length or calf-length hemlines and varied sleeve lengths. It was designed to showcase the body’s curve and is usually worn with high heels.

Ball Gowns

Ball gowns are formal dresses that reached full length, often reserved for black-tie events, formal dinners, or dances. The dresses featured fitted bodices with full skirts usually made of tulle or layers of chiffon. The skirts could have petticoats to make them more voluminous, and the dresses were often paired with appropriate gloves and accessories.

The 1950s were landmarked with post-war cultural change and economic development that played witness to new trends in fashion. The styles of the decade have left a lasting legacy in women’s fashion.

How to Incorporate 1950s Fashion into Your Wardrobe Today

The 1950s was a decade of iconic fashion style that still remains popular and timeless today. Adding a touch of 1950s fashion into your modern wardrobe can be a fun and trendy way to switch up your everyday style. Let’s dive into some tips on how to incorporate this retro fashion into your wardrobe.


Accessories are a great way to add some retro flair to your outfit without committing to a full-on vintage look. Some popular 1950s-inspired accessories include scarves, gloves, sunglasses, and structured handbags. Brightly colored hair scarves or bold sunglasses can quickly enhance a simple outfit with a pop of retro style. Adding a vintage brooch or pendant necklace is also a classic look that never goes out of style.


The 1950s were known for their voluminous skirts and dresses, but layering techniques can make these styles more accessible for everyday wear. Try layering a flowy midi dress or bouffant skirt over a modern turtleneck or button-up. Pairing a fitted cardigan with high-waisted trousers creates a chic and polished look that’s perfect for the office. Don’t be afraid to mix prints and textures for a more playful and eye-catching outfit.

Retro-Inspired Clothing

If you’re ready to take the plunge and try a full-on retro look, there are plenty of vintage-inspired clothing options available today. Look for A-line dresses, pencil skirts, and cropped jackets that are all reminiscent of 1950s fashion. High-waisted jeans and pants are also a trendy nod to the past while still looking modern and stylish. For a more formal occasion, a full-skirted cocktail dress or a sleek fitted gown will channel Old Hollywood glamour.

Hairstyles and Makeup

Completing your vintage-inspired look means taking inspiration from the iconic hairstyles and makeup of the era. Pin curls, victory rolls, and bouffants were all popular hairstyles during the 1950s. Red lipstick, winged eyeliner, and rosy cheeks were also signature makeup looks of the time. Experimenting with different hairstyles and makeup techniques can take your retro-inspired outfit to the next level.

Finding Inspiration

If you’re struggling to find inspiration or would like to learn more about 1950s fashion, there are plenty of resources available. Watching classic movies and TV shows from the era is a great way to see how clothing was worn at the time. Broader fashion magazines like Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar also covered the fashion trends of the time. Social media platforms like Instagram and Pinterest are also great places to find inspiration from modern-day fashion influencers who incorporate vintage pieces into their everyday looks.

The Enduring Legacy of 1950s Fashion

The 1950s was a decade of simplicity, grace, and femininity. It was a time when women’s fashion was elevated to new heights, and it continues to be a source of inspiration for modern designers and fashionistas. The enduring legacy of 1950s fashion has transcended time, and it is still influencing the fashion industry today.

The Influence of 1950s Fashion in Contemporary Fashion

The 1950s style has made a resurgence in the fashion world, and many modern designers have used it as inspiration for their collections. One of the most significant contributions of 1950s fashion to contemporary fashion is the hourglass silhouette. The cinched waist, full skirt, and fitted bodice were a hallmark of 1950s clothing and continue to be an iconic silhouette in fashion today.

The vintage aesthetic has also become a popular trend in recent years, with many fashion enthusiasts incorporating vintage-inspired clothing into their wardrobe. The popularity of vintage clothing has resulted in many vintage stores and online marketplaces, making it easier for people to access and purchase vintage clothing.

The Continuing Inspiration of 1950s Fashion in Modern Designs

The influence of 1950s fashion is not limited to the world of vintage clothing and retro styles. Many modern designers continue to be inspired by the simplicity, elegance, and femininity of 1950s fashion. Some of the most influential designers in the world have incorporated elements of 1950s fashion into their collections, including Christian Dior, Marc Jacobs, and Dolce & Gabbana.

One particular aspect of 1950s fashion that continues to inspire modern designers is the use of bold prints and colors. The 1950s was a time of experimentation with vibrant hues and patterns, which have become a staple in contemporary fashion. Many designers have used the bold prints and colors of the 1950s to create unique and eye-catching designs.

The Impact of 1950s Fashion on Individuals Today

The enduring legacy of 1950s fashion has extended beyond the fashion industry and has had an impact on individuals in their everyday lives. The vintage aesthetic has become a lifestyle for many people, with individuals incorporating elements of 1950s fashion into their homes and personal style. The popularity of vintage clothing has also sparked an interest in vintage hairstyles and makeup, with many people adopting the classic look of the 1950s.

For some, the influence of 1950s fashion has extended beyond just a personal preference and has become a career. The popularity of vintage fashion has led to the emergence of vintage boutiques, styling services, and even modeling agencies that specialize in retro and vintage clothing.

The Enduring Appeal of 1950s Fashion

The enduring appeal of 1950s fashion can be attributed to its ability to evoke a sense of nostalgia for a simpler time. The elegance, simplicity, and femininity of the 1950s style have captured the hearts of many, and it continues to be a popular trend in fashion and lifestyle. It’s a testament to the enduring legacy of 1950s fashion that it still inspires designers, fashion enthusiasts, and individuals today.

Frequently Asked Questions

Questions Answers
What are the common fabrics used in 1950s women’s clothing? The common fabrics used in 1950s women’s clothing were cotton, wool, and silk.
What were the popular accessories in 1950s women’s fashion? The popular accessories in 1950s women’s fashion were pearls, gloves, handbags, and sunglasses.
What was the most iconic clothing item in 1950s women’s fashion? The most iconic clothing item in 1950s women’s fashion was the full skirted dress.
What was the style of makeup in 1950s women’s fashion? The style of makeup in 1950s women’s fashion was bold lips, thick eyeliner, and a natural-looking complexion.
What was the hairstyle trend in 1950s women’s fashion? The hairstyle trend in 1950s women’s fashion was short, curly, and voluminous hair.
What fashion designers were popular in the 1950s? The popular fashion designers in the 1950s were Christian Dior, Coco Chanel, and Hubert de Givenchy.

Thank You for Reliving the 1950s Women’s Fashion Experience with Us

We hope you enjoyed revisiting the classic look of the 1950s women’s fashion with us. The era was undoubtedly iconic with its fashion, and you still see its influence even today. Whether you’re looking for new inspiration for your wardrobe or just want to get inspired by the 1950s fashion, this guide was perfect for you. Please visit us again soon for more exciting fashion content and tips. Thank you for reading!

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