As the 1940’s drew to a close so to did clothes rationing and as the fifties arrived so did a whole new freedom of clothing. We take a look at the fashion of the nineteen fifties and how the style changed from the 40’s.
Styles became much more feminine and romantic, gone were the days when girls wore the same clothing as their mothers and in came brightly patterned dresses with cinched in waists and huge wide skirts that suited the new era of rock ‘n’ roll dance.
Boys weren’t forgotten when it came to style in the fifties as the rock ‘n’ roll era saw teenage boys adopt the teddy boy style, with its long jackets, drainpipe trousers and winkle picker shoes, no outfit was complete without a quiff held in place with tubs of Brylcream.
Television was a huge influence on fifties style and many girls copied the glamour girls of the day including Marilyn Munroe, as well as Doris Day and Sandra Dee, while the boys favoured Elvis, Marlon Brando and James Dean each of whom all had their own individual styles.
Now that rationing had come to a close fashion designers restored frills, pleats, pockets and buttons on clothes. Fashion had progressed and long narrow skirts or full circular skirts became a statement look. The amount of fabric, previously unheard of, that was required to make these creations which also required layers of frilled petticoats which help the skirt stick out from the waist. It was all about the rock n roll scene and these skirts would reflect the energy and style of this new dance craze.
Denim jeans no longer just for workwear as boys copied their film star heroes including James Dean whose style included a uniform of jeans worn with a T-shirt. Not to be undone the girls too took to wearing a similar outfit, theirs would include a more European style shown on the movies including capri pants and fine knit jumpers or a shirt.
Keeping up with all the new emerging styles could put quite a stretch on any budget and home dressmaking became a popular hobby. Dressmaking pattern companies include names still known today including Butterick, McCalls, Simplicity and Vogue encourage dressmakers to recreate the style of the ever popular Doris Day or create dresses with a darted, nipped in waist to show off a small waist with a choice of skirts (usually 2 versions came on most sewing patterns) from the full flared rock ‘n’ roll variety to a straight option. Now it was possible to create your own style in a choice of material and patterns.
Home dressmaking, just like it has today with the introduction of TV shows such as the Great British Sewing Bee, became even more popular as the fifties drew on. A new, simpler style of dress became popular and so the sewing patterns of the day evolved and a range of ‘easy to make’ patterns arrived. These made it simple to run up a ‘shift’ dress in an evening using the latest in dressmaking luxury, an electric sewing machine.
By the middle of the century ladies favoured tailored suits which they finished off with a brooch or a corsage of fabric flowers, one of the most popular addition was a corsage of red cherries and surrounding folliage. It was important to look well groomed and most ladies carried a smart handbag over their arm and carried their gloves, which accentuated the three quarter length sleeves that had become popular on jackets.
1950’s fashion designers included Dior, Balenciaga, Chanel (who could forget her signature slim suit that was created in the 1950s) and Hubert de Givenchy, who designed the ladylike, polished clothes that made Audrey Hepburn look a million dollars. In 1958 The Fashion House Group of London was formed which included names that are well known today including Jaeger, Dannimac and Polly Peck all of whom created high street store collections.
Which parts of the 50s fashion do you like to most? Comment below and let us know.