One of the hottest eras of fashion to me was the 50’s. As our country was still recovering from the aftermath of war in the 40’s, the 50’s showed a new focus on revival and once again, women were really taking an interest in how they looked. We started to focus our eye on Paris and how fashion was worn there. There were trends that were set and became completely iconic by women that we still look to as some of the biggest in fashion’s history. Some of these examples are Elizabeth Tailor, Marilyn Monroe, Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn, to name a few. Many designers still use these women as inspiration for their collections, like Alice + Olivia's American Girl themed collection for spring 2013 (see video).
The 50’s was a time of much social and radical change and like today, many looked to fashion as a way of expressing themselves. Although still a very conservative era, sexy became something that was understated yet prevailed in the cut of a dress or a skirt. The bodice, full hips and waist were accentuated in gorgeous pencil skirts, corseted waists and fitted dresses. These cuts really worked with a woman’s curves which is why they have been mimicked and perfected for decades after. You’ll notice for instance that the pencil skirt, a high waisted (hides bulge) fitted (slenderizes) usually skimming the knee or just over the knee skirt (elongates legs and makes you appear to be taller) is a staple piece for most women’s wardrobe as they made their reappearance several years ago.
Other great pieces included dress coats, which were made to basically imitate the dress. These coats were cut with a nipped waist and had a full skirt. It was literally like wearing a dress over your dress, so that your shape and style weren’t completely covered up by a bulky coat.
In the second half of the 1950’s, as jeans caught on further (or dungarees, as they were referred to) and it was accepted for women to wear them outside, you’d see jeans cuffed up to the shins and paired with saddle shoes and bulky men’s shirts or sleeveless collared tops for a casual look. Sound like the capri pant of today? High waisted “pedal pants” that women wore then were full at the top and tapered toward the bottom of the shin. These days, we drop the waist of the “pedal pants”, bloom the fabric in a more pronounced manner at the hip and call them “harem pants”.
I think every woman should some 50’s inspired pieces in their wardrobe, like the ultimate fitted, sculpted dress that is cut to accentuate and highlight curves in all the right places, pencil skirt, or both. I am simply in love with the 50’s fashion page on Mod Cloth as they meticulously pay homage to the fashion of that era, highlighting key pieces that will flatter and dazzle for years to come.