Decades of Style: The 1950s

The 1950s is the decade of style, which has influenced the most popular vintage clothes online nowadays. This is probably because the silhouettes of this era tend to suit any body shape – and the more curves you have, the better! For those ladies who lack curves, don’t panic, you can easily create the illusion of curves with good foundation garments and a petticoat or two!


Although we tend to think of the 1950s as the colourful era that came after the end of the Second World War, the effects of rationing were still being felt right up to the end of 1958. It was an era of hard work with everyone focused on getting the UK back to being a stable economy. However, people tended to be happy that the war was over, and there was a common feeling of great happiness that we actually won the war, and this began to be reflected in the fashions of the day. By the end of the 1950s, the hard work to rebuild the country had nearly finished, and so people found themselves to be more prosperous than they had for a while – with many houses now having a television.

From a style point of view, the 1950s saw the rapid rise of “ready to wear” clothing. Clothing production moved away from seamstresses and couturiers to more mass-produced items – with a great focus on quality and construction techniques. Imported clothing began to be seen again, mainly from Paris, and this had a great effect on the wide variety of styles available. Following on from Dior’s “New Look” which was launched in 1947, fashion became focused on a nostalgic feminine look with lots of boned bodices and full skirts – fun and flirty.


Some of the key looks for this decade are:                                                                                                                

  • Full Skirt and Petticoat – Very wide pleated or circular skirts were worn both day and night, with layers of net petticoats to accentuate the size and shape of the skirt. Lengths varied from mid-calf to floor length.
  • Pencil Skirt – The complete opposite of the full skirt, the pencil skirt is narrow very close fitting skirt that restricted women’s walking, giving them a sexy wiggle! The pencil dress was popular amongst more mature ladies wore with a swing coat, heels and plenty of accessories to give a very sophisticated look.
  • Capri Trousers – Again a very recognisable style – narrow calf length trousers were worn almost everywhere during the 1950s and were produced by both high fashion houses and high street manufacturers.
  • Tight Sweater – This wardrobe staple was born in the 1940s but remained popular throughout the 1950s. It was worn with a bullet bra, which created a conical shaped bust – the most popular shape for that era! The bullet bra was so popular that many vintage dresses are actually made for this style of underwear, and so may look a bit odd with our modern preference for a more rounded shape breast!
  • Style icons from this decade include two of Little Wings Factory’s all-time favourites – Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn.

    If you want to get the 1950s look, mixing and matching your clothing for a glamorous, feminine style, then head to where we have lots of fifties dresses for you to choose from!

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