This post-war period stands out in the history of fashion owing to some radical changes that came about. The minimalistic approach towards clothing that was taken in the earlier decade saw an end and there was a renewed passion for dressing up well, and with panache. Dressing up impeccably was a way of life. Fashion saw an emergence of consumer-driven attitude like never before.
New materials, textures, designs, as well as patterns gained popularity. The bikini, drain-pipe trousers, pedal-pushers were all introduced and gained popularity in the ’50s. With a generation that was ready to push the boundaries of style and fashion, there was a lot of innovative styles that became all the rage in the fifties.
So what were the most popular styles of the ’50s? What were the trends that caught the imagination of that generation?
The Fifties for Women
The style adopted by women in the ’50s is best defined as feminine, sensuous and elegant. The hourglass figure was majorly highlighted by the outfits worn. As compared to the silhouettes of short skirts and wide shoulders worn in the forties, fashion in the fifties evolved to fuller calf-length skirts and soft shoulder lines that enhanced a woman’s figure.
Dior launched a collection in 1947 which pretty much dictated the look of the fifties. The signature shape of the collection was categorized by dresses that had a below-mid-calf length, full-skirt, pointed bust, small waist, and rounded shoulder line.
For formal wear during the day, tailored suits which combined peplum jackets with pencil skirts were in vogue. Women wearing dresses generally opted for patterns with full skirts and a fitted bodice.
Shirt dresses which had bodices that resembled shirts were also extremely popular.
Dress with Bolero Jacket
Evening dresses often were of the same length as day dresses and were combined with a short, bolero jacket. Towards the mid-1950s the styles started taking a new turn with unfitted suits and dresses making an appearance.
In 1955, Dior showcased an A-line dress and in the late 1950s Coco Chanel headlined with the Chanel suit, a braid-trimmed jacket styled after cardigan worn with an A-line skirt.
The sheath dress with its straight cut and a slight A-line pattern also first saw popularity in the 1950s.
During the war in the forties, several women had taken to wearing trousers. And in the fifties, they continued to wear pants. The style changed slightly with women taking to wearing ankle-length narrow pants. Mid-calf pants known as houseboy pants and pedal-pushers (knee-length pants) also gained in popularity.
The Fifties for Men
Blame it on the television series Mad Men for bringing the fashion of the fifties in the limelight again. But Don Draper does leave a woman wanting for more. And men in the fifties did put their dashing selves forward in the best possible way.
Double Breasted Jacket
Once the war ended, the trends for men changed quite a bit. Suits that they wore became broad-shouldered and double-breasted.
The trousers were also bigger and were rimmed with cuffs. The previously placed restrictions on things like fabrics were now eased. Broad lapels and coordinated accessories were in vogue. It was in this period that Savile Row introduced a look that they called the New Edwardian.
The look was made up of a slightly-flared jacket, shoulders following natural lines, a narrow cut, a bowler hat, and an overcoat.
Single Breasted Suit
In time the double-breasted suits were replaced with narrower single-breasted suits with less padding and in lighter fabrics.
Sports coats followed the same cut as coats worn as a part of suits. Plaids were fashionable and a popular fabric.
Bermuda shorts were also extremely sought after and often worn with knee-length socks. Men also wore knit shirts and sweaters.
Fashion is known to evolve constantly. Fashion from the fifties also evolved with time but it is one of those decades that we keep revisiting for inspiration. If you are one of those people who likes to constantly reinvent themselves, then this is the decade to look towards. Your new favorite look may not be too far off.