Fifties fashion was a festival of glamour and luxury with its designs, fabrics, and accessories the main course. No longer bound by war-time constraints and moderation, the fifties emerged as an era of unprecedented change and innovation.
Living Fifties Fashion examines and celebrates the excitement and seduction that was the Fabulous Fifties.
Interest in this retro look and lifestyle has experienced a revival with major stars photographed in haute couture garments by Balenciaga and de Givenchy. That special wedding gown or perfect prom dress is often selected from vintage consignment shops or evening wear websites.
As a baby boomer, my memories of 1950s clothing are women dressed in shirtwaist dresses and adorned with hats and gloves. Our mothers wore pencil skirted suits with peep toed and high heeled shoes. My mother wore Capri pants and a sleeveless blouse with the last few buttons unfastened and the shirt tails tied in the front. Just like Audrey Hepburn.
Thanks to Coco Chanel and American fashion designer Hattie Carnegie, the ladies never left home without their costume jewelry. They wore clip on ear bobs with matching three strand necklaces that mimicked real emeralds, rubies, and pearls. Even their cat eye glasses had rhinestones.
A good foundation was a fifties fashion necessity. Back then “foundation” referred to ladies undergarments rather than face makeup. Bullet bras and a well constructed waist cincher girdle were needed to pull off the Dior “New Look” in fashion design.
If the women chose not to wear a girdle, they attached their nylon stockings to a garter belt worn around their waist and under a full slip. They had to make frequent adjustments to their stocking seams to assure they were centered down the back of the legs.
Retro hairstyles from this era ran the gamut from the long and loosely-waved Rita Hayworth look to the smoothly-rounded Liz Taylor bubble cut. The fifties were a time of bobby pin curled hair, thinly shaped and penciled-in eyebrows, and cigarettes dangling from Theater Red rouged lips.
Acceptable 50s fashion for the sock hop included a circle skirt with appliquéd poodles or kittens. A white petticoat completed the look. Standard footwear for girls was saddle shoes and bobby socks.
The greaser look for boys allowed them to look as cool as James Dean or Marlon Brando.
Fifties fashion for men was a conservative, usually charcoal gray, single-breasted suit worn with a slip on shoe. While still worn throughout the 1950s, hats for both men and women were becoming less popular and eventually not required for a business man.
What I remember grammar school girls wearing is dresses with puff sleeves, wide sashes, and cancan slips. Boys wore dungarees or blue jeans and a neatly pressed button up shirt.
As television’s popularity escalated, Hollywood countered with spectacular productions that made screen legends of their prized actors and actresses. Stars were contracted to a film studio and obligated to appear at award ceremonies and photography events.
The big band era of the forties gave way to a new sound. While crooners Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin remained popular, rock and roll ruled and Elvis was the King. Kids danced around the local hangout juke box to Jerry Lee Lewis tunes and American Bandstand became a hit that lasted three decades.
The popularity of Carl Perkins, Bill Haley and his comets, and Johnny Cash sparked the fifties fashion craze that is today’s Rockabilly hair and style.
Half a century later, many of us are enamored with the fifties. Take a peek through Living-Fifties-Fashion and see if you don't fall in love with this era as well.
Hi! My name is Rita. Now that alone tells you I am a child of the fifties. I was named after one of the most beautiful stars during my Mama's day, Rita Hayworth. This site is an examination of all things fifties. You may read about the real me and my 1950s life in my About Me page. Feel free to visit anytime.