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'50s Dresses, Shoes & Accessories for Modern Women

Kitty went to school for fashion design and merchandising. She loves to design, sew, and create fashion inspired by the past.

Soda Pop Shop Fashion is retro, funky, and fresh.

Soda Pop Shop Fashion is retro, funky, and fresh.

Love '50s Fashion?

Fashion these days seems to be the same rotation of trends over and over. Some of those trends include the '50s look, but why let it be a fading trend? Let's learn how to incorporate the rockin' '50s style into our wardrobe on a year-long basis.

Soda Fountain Shops were big in the '50s, and the young women would get dressed up for dates at the Soda Pop Shops. Big circle skirts adorned with fuzzy poodles, shiny black and white saddle shoes, and hair high in ponytails. Guys would show up with slicked-back hair in pompadours, worn leather jackets, and crisp white t-shirts underneath. Why not emulate some of that classic and funky '50s style? Add a bit of rockabilly into your life with the Soda Pop Shop look!

Where to Find '50s Dresses

Circle skirts, gingham, and shirt dresses were all staples of the 1950s and definitely items that were worn to Soda Pop Shops on a daily basis. But where can we find these quintessential '50s pieces these days? Actually, we have many options to choose from.

1. Make your own.

Many times I have found that the stores did not carry the types of '50s dresses that I was longing for, so you know what I did? I made my own! A lot of young women are learning how to sew so that they can create their own unique style, so why not give it a try for the perfect '50s dresses too? Look for vintage patterns online (try Etsy, eBay, Rusty Zipper, etc.), and then give it a go! There are many wonderfully informative YouTube videos showing a beginner how to start sewing with patterns.

2. Search for real vintage.

Remember that in addition to making your own '50s-style dresses, you can search for authentic vintage garments in various places. Vintage is a huge trend that I don't believe will be going out of style any time soon. There are vintage boutiques in pretty much every city, plus there are some great places online to shop. Those might include,,,, and The amount of money you're willing to spend is going to determine which website you like best for real vintage.

Another option is to go thrifting (shopping in thrift stores) or yard sale-ing (shopping at yard and estate sales). Believe it or not, sometimes you can find some amazingly gorgeous vintage clothing at estate and yard sales (I've gotten real vintage '50s dresses for a quarter apiece!)

3. Find vintage-like '50s dresses.

If sewing and thrifting aren't your things, why not just search for dresses that look like they're from the '50s but are brand new? So many shops and boutiques are selling retro-style clothing these days that it's almost hard to go anywhere to shop without seeing retro or vintage-like clothing for sale.

First, try out your typical shops such as Forever 21, JCPenney, and the like. You never know what you might find. If you have a good idea as to what Soda Pop Shop and '50s dresses looked like back then, you'll have no problem with finding dresses that are similar now! Also check out some of the great online pin-up clothing boutiques:,,,, etc.

One of the Gorgeous 50s Style Dresses from Stop Staring Fashion Show!

One of the Gorgeous 50s Style Dresses from Stop Staring Fashion Show!

'50s Shoes: Classic and Cute!

Whenever I think of '50s Soda Pop Shops, I automatically think of those black and white leather saddle shoes—how about you? You can wear the saddle shoes from the '50s or incorporate some '50s flair into your shoe collection without going completely over-the-top with black and white leather and shoelaces!

Try some of these '50s shoes on for size (or style):

  • Kitten heels
  • Summer espadrilles and wedges
  • Classy closed-toe pumps
  • Penny loafers
  • Sling-back pumps
  • Peep-toe sandals

Where do we find these rockin' '50s shoes that will go well with a modern woman's wardrobe? Easy peasy!

Here are some options for shopping for vintage '50s shoes:

  • Thrift shops
  • Yard sales
  • Estate sales
  • Consignment shops
  • Vintage boutiques

But you don't have to go real vintage with your '50s shoes if you don't want to. Almost every shoe store sells shoes that are reminiscent of the past—particularly of the '40s and '50s. Try DSW for kitten heels and sexy pin-up style pumps, and Pay Less for cute and bright Summer Espadrilles and wedges. And the penny loafers? Well, any type of simple leather loafer will work well as a substitute for the originals!

Sexy '50s-style pumps and stilettos are all the rage!

Sexy '50s-style pumps and stilettos are all the rage!

The Hippest '50s Accessories for Women

No '50s look would be complete without the appropriate '50s accessories. You can't have the '50s dress and shoes without the perfect hair flower and jewelry, can you?

Here are some ideas for '50s accessories that you could add to those classic '50s dresses:

  • Hair flower accessories
  • Headbands
  • Vintage earrings
  • Rose and anchor necklaces
  • Bangle bracelets
  • Cameo pins (these look too cute on cardigans)
  • wicker handbags
  • Lucite handbags
  • Vintage clutches
  • Gloves (to match your handbag and shoes, of course)
  • Vintage hats
  • Fishnet stockings
  • Vintage pantyhose
  • Gingham and checkered scarves

Don't forget the red lipstick, black eyeliner, and pink/red blush to finish off your sexy retro look. All the boys at the Soda Pop Shop will be drooling over you, cool lady!

Look at this girl's cute '50s bandana and dangly vintage earrings!

Look at this girl's cute '50s bandana and dangly vintage earrings!

© 2013 Kitty Fields


moonlake from America on July 30, 2013:

I was a teen back then and when we went to school we always wore dresses with canvas very white tennis shoes and no socks but we always had on nylons and not panty hose. Voted up on your interesting hub. Enjoyed reading it.

Lucy Jones from Scandinavia on June 15, 2013:

Brings back some memories. Fantastic hub. Voted up.

Kitty Fields (author) from Summerland on June 15, 2013:

Nellieanna - Thank you for your wonderful comments, you always bring a smile to my face! I used the soda pop shop title and theme in order to drive more traffic to the hub (keywords and all) Thanks! And I agree, I think the clothing was more flattering back then.

Nell - Sounds like you were the trend-setter! I wouldn't doubt that for a second!

randomcreative - Thanks, lady!

Natasha - Thank you!

ElleBee - Love the 40s and 50s styles. I try incorporating them into my wardrobe quite often.

heidi - Ditto!

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on June 15, 2013:

Okay, now I want a pair of those leopard shoes! :)

ElleBee on June 15, 2013:

So cute! I've been very into 40s and 50s style outfits lately, and these are some tips on how I could actually incorporate some into my wardrobe! I love how women of that era, just looked classy and put together! When I think of 50s I tend to think of poodle skirts, and saddle shoes, but I realize now that a lot of these styles I'm starting to envy, actually are from the 50s! I will definitely be using some of these tips in the near future.

Natasha from Hawaii on June 14, 2013:

I love 50s fashions! In all the pictures I've seen from 'back then' the ladies seem so put together.

Rose Clearfield from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on June 14, 2013:

So much fun! Great resources and ideas. I love the examples, too.

Nell Rose from England on June 14, 2013:

Hi kitty, I remember back in the late 70s over here, we went through a revival if only for a few months, I loved the espadrilles, and I was the first person to wear the drainpipe trousers with the big turn up in my town, the looks I got! lol! funniest thing was that the following week everybody was wearing them! Oh and my box handbag, I still think of that today, loved it! this was great! voted and shared, nell

Nellieanna Hay from TEXAS on June 14, 2013:

Ah, Kitty. I graduated college in 1953, worked right out of college in an elegant bridal shop and was into fashion design. The Soda Pop Shop was more the teeny-boppers' habitat.

Actually the clothing of the 50s was quite elegant. We never went 'dressed' anywhere without a proper hat and little white gloves. We had good posture, too, which kind of turned us all into fashion models, even we shorter ones. ;-)

The more grown-up of us didn't wear poodle skirts, but were more like Audrey Hepburn's styles in her movies of that time. Our skirts were full, make no mistake, - with ample petticoats to make them stand out, and with "Merry Widow" waist cinchers to make our waists look every bit of, but no more than, 18 or 20 inches! (All flab could be hidden under those skirts! haha) It was a most interesting fashion time. Good clothing was SO well made, too. Hems were put in by hand; sometimes even zippers. There was nothing glued-on. Anything 'on' was appliqued.

I enjoyed your romp through the time!

Kitty Fields (author) from Summerland on June 14, 2013:

Kitty Fields (author) from Summerland on June 14, 2013:

Angela - Yes, I wish the women still dressed like ladies! LOL

nArchuleta - Yes, in fact I've written step-by-step instructions in a hub with 50s hairstyle tutorials. :) I'll post the links below.

Nadia Archuleta from Denver, Colorado on June 14, 2013:

I have ALWAYS wanted a poodle skirt. And who doesn't love a beautiful pair of fishnets? I love 50s style, and it's surprisingly flattering for curves! Do you have some 50s hair ideas? Great Hub -- voted up!

Angela Blair from Central Texas on June 14, 2013:

Ah, what memories this Hub stirs up. Women dressed like women back then and we actually DID dress up for certain functions. Thanks for a great read. Best/Sis