50s Fashion: History, trends and icons
Throughout history, fashion been a very relevant topic for society. In this article we are going to talk about a decade that undoubtedly marked a before and after in this industry, the 1950s, which defined the world of catwalk and great designers.
In this period, fashion underwent a great change for both women and men, being more versatile in style, colour, clothes and later setting the fashion trends that have defined it to this day.
The History of fashion in the 50s
After the first years post war, society returned to normal daily life. People left years of suffering and deprivation behind and in the case of women, they felt the need to look beautiful and seductive once again. This time in history is considered to be the rebirth of new fashion and beauty trends.
The 50s can be considered the beginning of a defining era of fashion, where new styles emerged reflecting confident and elegant women.
It was an influential decade that began early, in 1947, with designs presented by Christian Dior, who bet on giving women of the era the glamor and beauty and fashion that the war years had forbidden.
By the early 1950s, Dior's designs dominated the export of French fashion. Suits to highlight silhouettes, heels to mark elegance, dresses and skirts, hairstyles, makeup and accessories that, combined with the fashion of the moment, suggested class and the new look of distinction of good taste. These were the hallmarks of its successful collection "New Look".
Fashion trends of the 50sGarments
For women, dresses were the 'look’. They could choose to wear a dress with a close-fitting style or showing off a dress with a defined back and a full flared skirt; both styles highlighted the waist. The waist was perfectly shaped using a corset, an article of clothing that, at the time, defined Dior’s style and wear from the end of the war to the beginning of the 1960s.
Dresses or short skirts were regarded with disrespect, like swimsuits, which is why these garments frequently came below the knee. By the mid-50s you could see the use of women's trousers in two different styles, one capri cut, (still common today), and another long, fitted at the waist with a wide bootcut.
As for footwear trends, heels were the distinction of elegance in terms of shoes.
Accessories became an important ally for women with their clothes to complete the look of their dress be it day or evening wear. The 50s were characterized by the use of wide-brimmed hats, gloves and colored glasses. The most common jewelry was pearls, worn in necklaces and bracelets.
For men, the James Dean style prevailed, a young actor of the time, that influenced men's fashion wear. Levi’s jeans predominated with fitted white or black shirts and “rocker” style black leather jackets were the look.
The quintessential garments of gentlemen of the time, were formal suits with wide, stripes or wide check trousers. Vests and white cotton shirts were worn with ties and scarves were placed in the upper pocket of a jacket.
The use of suspenders, gloves, hats or berets as male accessories was also common in mens wear. As for shoes, the use of Oxford, Brogue and Moccasins were most common shoes of the time for men.
Women’s makeup in the 50s was characterized by pastel shades, with black feline style eyeliner. Well defined eyebrows, use of false eyelashes and red lips, a tone present in the makeup of modern women, were all popular.
Women also stood out with the hairstyles of the decade. Curls was one of the most famous trends, as was the Italian bow, very common in actress Audrey Hepburn.
The short locks were also favored with pronounced and very sensual waves in the style of Marilyn Monroe, who also drove the blonde color trend in ladies hair during the 50s.
Men did not have so much to choose from; short, well-defined hair was sufficient. Combed over with a side parting, or with a voluminous pompadour and gel to hold it in place was fashionable.
Top designers and fashion icons of the 50s
As for the best designers in the vintage 50s fashion world, the talent of Christian Dior, Cristóbal Balenciaga, Coco Chanel, Schiaparelli, Lanvin, Givenchy, Yves Saint Laurent, among others, stand out. These haute couture designers imposed the best Parisian style of the 50s around the world.
Among the most renowned women of the 1950s are: Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, and Brigitte Bardot. Also the actor James Dean, Elvis Presley, the actors of Grease and the youth series Happy Days, were also very well known.
Fashion in the Uk in the 50’s.
The UK was really into the fashion of the 1950s. The birthplace of one of the emblematic haute couture designers in the world, Charles James, an American-English designer was renowned for his evening ballgown styles with highly structured aesthetic.
In the UK, as in the entire European continent, the Parisian fashion, glamour and elegance of the European woman that marked this vintage period stood out.