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1950s Womens Fashion – What did women wear in the 1950s

August 23, 2014

With the end of war came the end of rationing, and without the restrictions in place the 1950s Womens fashion world got excited about the generous use of fabric involved in designs such as Christian Dior’s “New Look” outfits – slim, fitted jackets, nipped in waists, and large ballerina style skirts, falling to mid calf.

Ladies fashion in the 1950s

Relaxed and practical clothing in 1950s Womens Fashion

Women who had taken wartime jobs and become used to a new standard of relaxed and practical clothing in Womens 1950s Fashion, including trousers, to a large extent now shunned these and not only left their jobs, becoming once more house wives and mothers, but also embraced the chance to wear more luxurious and impractical styles once more.


Some women protested against this new and different kind of restriction: to wear a New Look style of dress you needed to don a “waspie”, which was a little waist corset designed to give you a tiny midsection.


And not only the intended wearers but the press and government debated this profligacy. However, the top 1950s Womens Fashion designers, including Hardie Amies, Balmain, Balenciaga and Jaque Fath embraced these trends, ready to wear designers copied them, and film stars modeled them alluringly on the big screen.

Marylin Monroe looked fabulous in these hourglass flattering shapes, while Audrey Hepburn modeled a more gamine look, and Brigitte Bardot pouted her way to sex kitten popularity.


Underwear technology had improved greatly in 1950s Womens Fashion as nylon, invented for the war effort, was now used increasingly in nylon stockings, bras, knickers and the aforementioned waspies.


Nylon stockings usually came in tan and nude shades, and bras were in an exaggerated conical shape, usually padded out with foam “falsies”, to avoid the pointed tips collapsing.

The technology for make up had also improved, and the mask like effect of Max Factor’s Pan stik was popular. The focus had moved from lips to eyes, and black eyeliner with a feline flick was in.


Red lips were still in vogue in 1950s Womens Fashion and matching red nails were de rigueur. In fact, matching everything else was important: your shoes should mach your bag and belt, too.

Womens Vintage Fashion-1950s-panstik advert

1950s-panstik advert


It was also the beginning of the “Youth Movement” as teenagers began to see themselves as a distinct section of society, and to be unwilling to dress just like their mothers.


Especially in America, teenagers favoured young, fun fashions – something that a fan of 1950s Womens Fashion vintage wear can emulate very easily. You need a flippy circle skirt; for optimum impact pick one with a poodle appliqué.


50s poodle skirt


Team it with a conical bra and a tight sweater, bobby socks, a little red lipstick and a steady hand with eyeliner. Voila! You are a sweater girl. Now you just need to learn to swing and jive!


Dior’s New Look-1954

Marylin Monroe in the 1950s

1950s Womens Fashion, Audrey Hepburn in the 1950s