1950s Fashion: A Return to Femininity, the Debut of Youth’s Importance
Femininity in fashion resurged in 1950s fashion during the years after World War II. Longer, fuller skirts that emphasized the waistline, softer lines in jackets and blouses characterized the look during these years.
A youthful look also became a potent factor in the fashion designs of the era with sweaters and poodle skirts becoming the look to have at high schools throughout the U.S. The sweaters emphasized the young women’s curvy, pointed bustline, often accentuated with bras with additional padding. To go with these soft, ultra-feminine sweaters, young women who were “going steady” often wrapped their boyfriends’ class ring in neutral or matching soft angora yarn to fit their smaller fingers.
Hair styles, too, became more casual during the 1950s. Soft curls and gamine ponytails emphasized the growing youth movement in fashion, which grew in importance until well into the 1970s.
A classic string of pearls was de rigueur during the era for daywear, with sweaters, and with evening wear. 1950s fashion for daytime wear often included lower-cut necklines, Peter Pan collars, or jewel necklines. Cat-eye glasses and sunglasses transformed nerds into femmes fatales, creating an aura of mystery in such a utilitarian item.
Stiletto heels became an important accessory in the working girl’s wardrobe, a 1950s fashion trend that continued well into the 1960s. With more casual apparel, teens sported penny loafers and saddle shoes with bobby socks
Later in the evolution of 1950s fashion came the minimalist Chanel suit, with its short matching jacket, contrasting braid trim, and an unfussy A-line skirt. This look continued on into the early 1960s, popularized by fashion icon and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy.
Casual wear rose in importance during the 1950s. With many people moving to suburban tracts and having more leisure time to indulge in hiking, swimming, tennis, and other sports, easy-care fabrics, flexible-fit elastic waistlines, and sportswear became important wardrobe ingredients in this era.
In the 1950s, women began wearing pedal pushers, cropped pants that ended just below their knees. Even full length trousers for women were worn shorter and narrower, generally ending at the ankle. The importance of casual apparel continues until the present day, as people become less formal and more accessible with the rise of instant global communication technology.