1950s Fashion Essay

This essay has a total of 937 words and 7 pages.

1950s Fashion



English Honors
September 13, 2000
1950’s Fashion
What do you think of when you hear the words, “1950’s fashion?” I am sure each and
everyone in this room has an image that comes to mind. For me, I visualize the traditional
poodle skirt, white crew socks and black and white saddle shoes. In the 50’s, times were
changing. This was the era when television was exploding onto the scene. Television
brought the fashion world into our living rooms, with show like, Leave it to Beaver, Ossie
and Harriet, and the infamous “I love Lucy.” The television mom’s of the fifties
entertained us and had to be prepared for every occasion.

First off, let’s start at the top, with the hair. There were many different hairstyles to
choose from. The women of the 50’s tortured their hair. They bleached it, permed it, put
pins in it and teased it until it stood out all over. My mother was one of the
experimenters of the early days. I am amazed she has any hair at all after looking at some
old photographs.

The most conspicuous was the “beehive”, with the hair, shoulder-long or more, drawn up to
the top of the head, back-combed zealously to give it bulk and height, then turned in with
pins or surmounted with chignon, real or artificial, and finally lacquered into stiffness.
(Ewing 170)




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The 50’s television shows portrayed the fifties wives and moms as a happy homemaker at the
breakfast table in her clinched skirt with the white blouse tucked in neatly. She had her
hair done, and wore all the necessary accessories, such as pearls or snap beads.
Appropriateness was everything. Young women expressed the responsibility of their
positions by being as ladylike as possible: just leaving the house called for wearing a
hat, going downtown shopping required gloves. Another thing, you never wore white after
Labor Day.

There were tea parties, backyard barbecues, school functions with the PTA and many other
social gatherings to dress up for. Television women like June Clever and Lucille Ball
blazed the way for the woman of the 50’s. Setting fashion trends for the women of America.

What to wear? That depended on the occasion. The sundress was very popular, with spaghetti
straps, bodice clinched at the waist and a full skirt. Another favorite was the shirtwaist
dress, like Lucy made famous on the, (I love Lucy) show. These dresses could be worn at
pool parties, back yard barbecues, and at night to almost any non-formal event. In 1957,
the sack dress became the popular. American women bought the waist-less, straight dress by
the thousands, until they realized that men didn’t like them. (Milbank 175)

For most of the decade skirts were fairly long. There were no hemline headlines. Skirts
ranged from a conservative 14 to 15 inches off the ground and there were an equal number
of full ones and straight ones. (Ward 142)



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Dresses may have hung at mid-calf, but shorts got shorter-with rolled up cuffs. (Donovan
74) For the active woman on the go there were short pants. Capri’s and pedal pushers,
narrow long pants with a side zipper, a popular look, with narrowed legs. They came in a
variety of colors and fabric’s.

Formal gowns and cocktail dresses were dramatic. The evening scene was one of great
formality that had not existed since the roaring twenties. (Ward 142) Full-skirted
evening gowns made of chiffon, stiff satin and taffeta with whalebone corsets sown into
the dress gave women their ultra-feminine "hourglass" figures. These dresses gave every
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