Vintage Fashion: Style of the 1950s Woman

Updated on March 31, 2018
viryabo profile image

Vintage fashion is my hobby because I am fashion conscious and try to be unique. My personal signature? Wearing vintage-inspired apparel.

Women's fashion in the '50s
Women's fashion in the '50s | Source

The 1950s era was the epitome of fashion. Looking good and dressing elegantly was the norm, and every young girl was brought up to recognize style.

Vintage apparel of the 1950s was the formal tailored silhouette look. Women always looked so refined and stylish, not only in their full-skirted dresses, or pencil skirt and blouse, but also with their complete look including a long coat, hand gloves, a hat, and a string of pearls.

It was a very feminine and stylish era and a woman's figure was meant to be shapely with the curves in the right places, showing distinct hip lines and prominent busts.

Vintage style clothing demands a women’s waist be small, and for those who weren't naturally endowed with a figure eight, girdles, waist cinchers, and body shapers provided the desired hourglass shape.

"Provocative" Cuts of 1950s Fashion

Chic and almost provocative, the fashion of the '50s include beautifully tailored apparel like the wiggle dress, the skin tight figure hugging high-waist pencil skirt, and full circle skirts with stiff nylon petticoats.

The wiggle dress is definitely a provocative, body-hugging dress that clings beautifully, giving the woman a silhouette many couldn’t get enough of, and the tiny waistlines and narrow mid-calf skirts drove women’s fashion into an appealing and sexy "overdrive".

The fifties was a time of practised etiquette and femininity, a time when every occasion demands a studied attention to fashionable clothes and glamorous accessories.

Afternoon attire worn to ladies tea parties was different from the ones worn to the cinemas. And when shopping for groceries, or attend children’s school events, though clothing was casual, it was still stylish and tailored.

The '50s Woman's Vintage Clothes

The 1950s was a great decade that experienced a very vibrant fashion activity that celebrated some of the best qualities of the traditional gender roles, including all things feminine for women.

Examples of apparel styles of the fifties include:

  • Tailored skirt suits
  • Wearing dresses with bolero style jackets
  • Twin-sets tops
  • Wiggle dress
  • Shirtwaist dresses with full pleated swing skirts
  • Full-length cocktail gowns with elbow length opera gloves
  • Bullet bras, worn under tight sweaters and cardigans
  • Full skirt with attached petticoats
  • Sun dresses with square necklines

  • Poodle skirts paired with black or white saddle shoes
  • Smart but slightly tight jeans and pants for teenage girls
  • Pedal pushers

Change in Clothing Styles by the End of the Decade

Towards the late '50s, fashion designers began to design less structured clothing.

They dispensed with the tight waist, tight fitting, full-skirted styles of the post-war years, and started promoting designs such as Chanel’s relaxed sweater suit designs for women, great designs that were gaining popularity.

Designs of clothing and fashion accessories become much more comfortable, relaxed, and wearable.

The design of the sack dress that appeared towards the end of the 50’s was the prelude to some of the stylish shift dresses that became popular in the 1960’s.

And, hemlines moved inches up!

Questions & Answers

    © 2009 viryabo


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      • viryabo profile imageAUTHOR


        6 years ago

        Thank you Tonipet. Happy to find someone who loves vintage fashion as much as i do. Especially the tailored styles that accentuates the curves.

      • Tonipet profile image

        Tonette Fornillos 

        6 years ago from The City of Generals

        Vintage apparel truly withstands the test of time. I'm an avid fan of the 1950's formal and tailored silhouette fashion. A proof of this was how tailors of those times became masters in making dresses that perfectly fit all curves. Very elegant decade. Voted up beautiful again and again!

      • jafruminc profile image


        6 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina, USA

        I really love vintage clothes! So classic and stylish. :)

      • Dolores Monet profile image

        Dolores Monet 

        7 years ago from East Coast, United States

        Beautiful hub and wonderful pictures! Though I would not feel comfortable in those tight waists and high heels, I sure appreciate the fashions of the 1950's. One of my favorite fashion movies of the 50's is Rear Window - Grace Kelly wears the most gorgeous outfits! Voted up!

      • gmwilliams profile image

        Grace Marguerite Williams 

        7 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

        I loved the fashions of the 1950s, especially the suits. I wonder where can I find vintage dresses and suits in plus sizes. Thank you.

      • kittythedreamer profile image

        Kitty Fields 

        7 years ago from Summerland

        loved this hub. check out some of mine on 50s may find them quite interesting and similar to your hub! i envy the days where women held such classy & sophisticated style.

      • viryabo profile imageAUTHOR


        8 years ago

        I totally agree with you. The women of the past era knew what fashion and style meant. And today finding authentic and fabulous vintage apparel is a challenge, but thanks to designers with foresight. We can at least enjoy apparel inspired by the vintage era.

        Thanks for the visit VV and for taking the time to leave nice comments.


      • vintage v profile image

        vintage v 

        8 years ago from Fabulous Las Vegas

        Great hub. i believe we need to get back to some of these fabulous styles.

        In the past women wore designs that made them look gorgeous and they cared about the way they looked.

        You can be strong and look exquisite too. Mixing up the designs of today and the great designers of yesteryear really gives you your own sense of style and confidence.


      • viryabo profile imageAUTHOR


        8 years ago

        I sometimes wish i had studied fashion design. I know i'd have been strictly vintage style conscious and weave my designs around such glamorous clothes.

        Well, maybe in my next life! LOL

        Thanks for your visit F4L


      • Fashion4Live profile image


        8 years ago

        absolutely to die for! It is honestly one of my dreams to live in those times! Just for the magnificent clothes! Everyone in those days had the most sensational clothes! Great Hub!

      • viryabo profile imageAUTHOR


        9 years ago

        Thanks GPage. Its so hard finding such patterns today. Wish someone would do reproductions. They did have great clothes.


      • GPAGE profile image


        9 years ago from California

        GREAT hub! I actually have some old dress patterns from this time. It was my least fave era for music, but loved some of the clothes! Best, GPAGE

      • viryabo profile imageAUTHOR


        9 years ago

        Wouldn't mind going back in time for a few days, just to wear those fabulous designs of that time.

        Women really looked feminine then. And walked beautifully too. Today, we are in such a rush! LOL.

        Thanks keira.

      • keira7 profile image


        9 years ago

        Hi my friend, to day you spoiled us, I love the hub, great video and lovely photos . Good work my dear. That is just class, I find that women in the 50`s had a lot of style and respect for themselves. Thanks Viryabo.

      • viryabo profile imageAUTHOR


        9 years ago

        I'm laughing so hard, my ribs are cracking! Well they had the waist cinchers that we don't have to wear. Thank goodness for that!

        Thanks for the visit suziecat.

      • suziecat7 profile image


        9 years ago from Asheville, NC

        Such teeny weeny waists. Women had style back then unlike some of the (ahem) doozies I see these days.


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