The post-war era of the 1950's represented a boom for the fashion industry for both women and men. If you’re planning to dress 50's-style for a costume party or simply because you enjoy the look, here are some tips for you to follow.
1950's women’s clothing was about bold colors, clean lines, simple prints and showing off the hour-glass figure. Blouses tended to be fitted, and skirts were either full circle skirts or fitted pencil skirts. Female fashions of the day were quite feminine and accentuated natural curves.
When shopping for a 50's-style dress, stick to fitted A-line style dresses or dress with full skirts. Circle skirts can be enhanced by wearing crinoline netting. Hoop skirts, also called poodle skirts, were also a popular fashion. Hoop skirts should be worn with fitted button-down blouses. All skirts and pants should be worn above the hips. One-piece dresses can be accessorized with a skinny cinch belt in a contrasting color.
Popular necklines of the era include square or boat neck, sweetheart and off-the-shoulder peasant style shirts. Capped sleeves were also common. Avoid puffy sleeves or long, loose sleeves. Jackets and cardigans were mostly short and fitted with round shoulders. A bullet bra and girdle or control-top panties will give you the shape that goes well with 50's-style fashions.
You can accessorize a 50's-style outfit with light scarves tied around the neck, matching gloves, small envelope-shaped handbags, cat’s eye glasses, and saddle shoes or classic heels. If you want to go for pants, try fitted capri pants that button above the waist, pedal pushers or loose Bermuda shorts.
For bathing suits, both one-pieces and bikinis were born. Halter tops that show off cleavage were popular, as were 'apron-suits.' Most suits had bottoms that covered the bum and thighs, and many had cute matching or attached skirts. Polka dots, florals and solid colors can all work for 50's-style bathing suits.
For the men, styles differed more markedly depending on social group, especially among teenagers. In the U.K., the Teddy Boy look dominated the dance floors. The essential element of a Teddy Boy outfit is a drape, a long knee-length wool jacket worn with matching or contrasting narrow trousers and suede shoes.
In the U.S., leather jackets were more popular for casual wear. These were worn with fitted, narrow-leg jeans. Other fashions for men included khaki pants and button-down shirts. Remember, trousers in this era had drainpipe legs and were worn above the belly button.
For a more formal occasion, try a single-breasted blazer with a white button-down skirt, skinny tie and contrasting trousers. A dark-colored blazer with light-colored pants is a good combination. Charcoal grey suits were also popular for men. A short, slicked-back hairstyle can complete the 50's look if you’re going casual or dressing up.
For both men and women, the film versions of Grease and West Side Story can provide inspiration for 50's-style clothing. To find items for your 50's fashion, browse thrift stores, vintage items on eBay and online stores for 50's-inspired clothing like BettiePageClothing.com. You can also buy handmade 50's fashions directly from seamstresses at Etsy.com. On Etsy you’ll find a good collection of women’s 50s-style dresses, skirts and bathing suits.