1950s Inspired Fashion: Women

1950s Inspired Fashion: Women

In many ways, the 1950s took a big step back, especially for women. During World War II while the men were away, women began to gain an independence that was rare before the war. They left their homes to work in offices and factories, earning and managing their own money. Clothing was heavily restricted throughout and just after the war. Everything from the length of skirts to the size of collars was regulated. This resulted in a slim, straight silhouette. Women wore comfortable clothing like suits and shirtdresses, and even began to regularly wear pants, especially to work. They had to ‘make do and mend,’ buying or sewing well-made clothing that had to last and fixing garments that were past their prime. Learn more about 1940s women’s fashions.


1953, Dior’s New Look sillhouettes

In 1947 Christian Dior permanently changed the fashion industry, as well as created the look that would dominate the next decade. Dubbed the ‘New Look’ by Harper’s Bazaar editor Carmel Snow, Dior’s first fashion collection, shown in Paris, were the exact opposite of the ‘40s look. The fabric was luxurious and voluminous. Shoulders were soft instead of squared, the figure was hourglass instead of boxy, and the short, straight skirt of the ration-happy ‘40s was replaced by a huge, billowing one that hit at mid-calf. There were also skirts that were so slim and fitted it was hard to walk. Bodices were extremely tight, accentuating a tiny waist.
The whole look was reminiscent of the mid-nineteenth century. To achieve the look women had to once again squeeze into some serious undergarments. A boned corset achieved the ‘wasp waist,’ and bust and hip pads completed the hourglass figure.


1959 House dress by Lane Bryant, plus size designer

Many women were outraged, especially in the United States. Protests were held targeting Dior and his new clothing. Women had just gained a large amount of equality and weren’t ready to give it up- both in work and in fashion. The new clothes used excessive amounts of fabric, needed constant maintenance, and required a complete coordinated accessory collection to be “perfect.” However, after the hardships of the war, everybody was ready for a change, and by the start of the ‘50s, everybody was wearing the New Look.



1952 matching shoes and purse (and belt, hat, gloves and jewelry) was desired.

As men returned home from the war, women also returned to the home as wives, mothers and homemakers. There was a migration to newly-built suburbs where life was supposed to be picture-perfect and traditional. Society became very conservative and there was a rise in affluence. Racism and anti-communism were rampant. There was an air of conformity – everyone wanted to act and look ‘normal.’



The perfect 1950s family

The man was the breadwinner, the woman the feminine ‘happy housewife.’ Instead of scrimping and saving, women began to spend a lot of money on getting dressed. Their appearance was linked to their husband’s success. Even if she was not wealthy, looking the part, became an obsessive occupation. Radio, TV, and magazines reminded women daily of their desire to be beautiful for their husbands.


The New Look

The full look of the 1950s was mature, glamorous and very put-together. Dresses, skirts and undergarments were constricting, but a wide range of new ‘leisure clothes’ allowed people to dress casually at home. Women were expected to be impeccably dressed and groomed in public or when their spouse was home, always with coordinating hats, shoes, bags, belts, gloves and jewelry. In privacy women dresses much simpler, more comfortable. Eventually these casual fashions became public clothing as well.



1954 Women’s casual, sporty clothes


1950s mne’s fashion suits were conservative yet less restrictive than previous years.

Men wore serious, somber business suits at their newly created office jobs, and leisure suits or slacks on weekends. Shoulders were broad and jackets were boxy. They were also expected to be well-groomed and put together, suits and pants perfectly pressed.
Paris, cut off from the world during the war, once again became the center of fashion. Designers held fashion shows twice a year, and the U.S. and Britain often bought the rights to copy the garments (or simply stole the designs) and churned out cheaper versions to be sold in department stores.


1952 Aldens catalogs had the latest fashions at affordable mass produced prices.

Fashion magazines like Vogue and Women’s Wear Daily, mail order catalogs had a sharp increase in product advertising brought designer fashions into every home. Thanks to the war efforts, the U.S. had made huge advancements in mass production techniques, and used them to create new ‘ready to wear’ clothing. Everyone was able to wear the latest fashions.
Designers, led by Dior, started contracting out the manufacture of some clothing and a wide range of accessories that were stamped with their labels. Everything from perfume to gloves, hats, bags and ties were ‘branded’ by the designers. This practice is widespread today, as you can see by visiting any department store, but was a new idea in the ‘50s. Dior also set up boutiques all over the world – another novel idea that is the norm in fashion today.
Fabrics were often luxurious, especially for eveningwear. Velvet, tulle, silk and satin were popular. Cotton and wool were often used for daywear, along with new synthetic fabrics. Polyester and rayon were used to make all kinds of clothing, from blouses and men’s shirts to dresses and suits.


1953 casual denim and cotton prints for home sewing


1958 panty girdles, bras, and garters

Nylon and elastic, conserved for the war effort, began to be used for a wide variety of clothing, especially undergarments. These fabrics were made into delicate underwear, nightgowns and stockings. Nylon did such a good job of replacing silk stockings that they’ve been known ever since as simply ‘nylons.’
These new synthetic fabrics were seen as ‘miracle fabrics.’ They could be washed and dried easily, didn’t need to be ironed and didn’t shrink.





 Chanel style clothing of 1958

Few designers chose to break from the New Look model, but a couple paved the way. Coco Chanel hated the New Look so much that she reopened her business after closing it at the start of the war. In 1954 she came back with slim suits – the brand’s signature look – in wools and tweeds. Jackets were boxy with no collar, and skirts were straight and comfortable. She topped the look off with costume jewelry and the famous quilted bag.
Hubert de Givenchy unveiled his ‘sack dress’ in 1957. It was completely loose, taking the emphasis away from the waist entirely. It was to be the inspiration for the iconic tunic dresses of the 1960s.
The conformity of the ‘50s eventually backfired. Young people everywhere grew cynical, and the happy housewives started to feel trapped (there was a dramatic rise in the use of sedatives and anti-depressants during the ‘50s).


The 1960s: More pants, looser tops, shorter skirts. Freedom in moderation.

The New Look lasted throughout the 1950s, but the high-maintenance lifestyle eventually gave way to the rebellious culture in the ‘60s. Teenagers wanted to be individuals who didn’t look like their parents, and their mothers were ready to break free again. Fads were short-lived and garments were cheaply made. Clothing wasn’t constrictive anymore, and was looser and much shorter. The flowing hippie look and the graphic mini-skirt gave women both choices and a way to express themselves.


1950s Mens Fashion

1950s Mens Fashion

1950s Men’s Fashion – fashions for men in the 50’s are often thought of in terms of the Fonz and Grease. Well, forget that. The picture below is a far more mainstream view of how men actually dressed. not what you expected, eh?

Men didn’t have many workplace choices for color. Dark blue, dark brown, and charcoal. Even the ties, traditionally men’s flamboyant touch, were uniform and dark. Some time would have to pass before men began to reclaim the sartorial splendor which has been historically theirs.

Blue, grey and brown were the choices.

But yes, there were young men at school who looked just like the Fonz, but not many and they didn’t have motorcycles. And truth be told, most girls wouldn’t have gone out with any of them anyway.

Here you see my kind of guy. A conservative fella. Which was how most guys looked in the Fifties. If you want to know how men dressed, you need to think about Ritchie and Mr. C – no

This 1950s men’s fashion look was often called “Ivy League” or preppy and was definitely the preferred look if your date was meeting your Dad for the first time.

The cardigan sweater seen here was a popular style which was used for the “letter” sweater so cherished among athletes.

t the Fonz.

When men weren’t wearing jackets or suits they were wearing sweaters or vests. Some businesses would allow the man to wear a sweater with a tie, sort of a 1950s “casual Friday” thing.

Two famous 1950s crooners, Dean Martin and Perry Como.

There was some flexibility in casual wear. Cowboy look became popular for a while and plaid was a style that just hung on. These casual looks were reserved for weekend wear only.

Another popular style was the military look. Most men in the 50’s had recently been in the military during WWII.

Even Dad wanted to be a cowboy. Influenced by the dominance of the TV Western, eveybody went a little Yehaw. Although only kids wore the cookskin caps, menswear was adapting nicely to the “home on the range” look.

Vest were popular because of their versatility. They were worn under suit or sport coats but could also be worn by themselves for a more casual business look.

The next fashion must for men in the 1950’s was a hat. You were not dressed for work without a hat. They had hat stores, men would own several hats. I remember my Dad had a hat rack in the closet.

Straw hats were popular for more casual outings but would not be worn to work and not at night.

Some more hat styles.

Cary Grant was the George Clooney of the 1950s, so much can be learned from his style.

Men of the 50’s were accessorized from head to toe. A stylish hat, suit, handkerchief, coordinated tie, socks and wingtip shoes.

Now, on to the shoes. No sandals or flip-flops here, men wore real shoes. They were expensive and men took care of them. My Dad had his lined up in the closet with shoe trees in every pair and they were shined. There were shoe shine chairs on every corner downtown, airports, train stations pretty much anywhere you were dressed for business.

You also had a shoe shine kit at home to keep up with those investments.

Men didn’t work all the time. In the summer pool and beach parties parties were common family fun.

If you weren’t swimming you might wear something like this.

One final piece that completed the 1950’s ma’n was a pipe. I certainly wouldn’t suggest it for today but the in the 1950s we didn’t have a clue as to the health risks. That aside smoking a pipe was distinguished. Robert Young on “Father Knows Best” smoked one and how much more ‘Middle-America’ can you get.

New Look Makeup Review

New Look Makeup Review

When I made a trip to New Look recently I was excited to see they had brought out a new range of makeup products. At the time I couldn’t stop to see what was on offer as I was in a rush but I have now had the opportunity to have a look online and also to try out some of the Pure Colour range so I thought I would share my thoughts with you.

Pure Colour Matte Lipstick – Sweet Rose £3.99

I think this has to be the best product made by New Look and it is a very close dupe to my favourite lipstick of all time, MAC Mehr but slightly more purple toned in colour but on the lips it looks identical and texture is very similar too.

This is a gorgeous mauve pink, it is matte but not so drying and feels comfortable to wear. I usually wear a lip balm underneath to make it abit more comfortable, exactly like I do with the Mac one and it lasts the same amount of time, around 4 hours maybe more.

For £3.99 this is a bargain and worth so much more!

Pure Colour Baked Eyeshadows

How gorgeous is the new range of baked eyeshadows! I really liked the look of the range when I saw it online. There are five different shades in the range, gold, mid brown, stone, cream and grey. I got the Mid Brown which is a really nice medium brown shade with a subtle shimmer, the Cream which is beautiful shimmery shade, Stone which is a gorgeous shimmery bronze shade, and which is more of a greyish shade with a subtle gold shimmer through it. I was really impressed with the eyeshadows, they are really pigmented, easy to blend and don’t fade. I’m hoping they expand this range to include more colours and perhaps a matte range too.

Pure Colour Eyeliner

When it comes to eyeliners I normally choose black, on this occasion I wanted a more subtle look to go with the eyeshadows so I opted for the brown and I’m glad I did. I really like the mid brown colour, it applies really easily using the soft pencil nib, and is long lasting. This is definitely one to pick up when you’re next in store as it’s priced at just £1.99 and could easily rival more expensive eyeliners.

Pure Colour Nail Polish

As well as the makeup range there is a new range of nail polishes! Since we are almost into the summer months I decided to choose a nice summery shade – Coral #83. I think the packaging is nice, the brush is okay as nail varnish brushes go but I did find that the product is a little on the runny side. Although on the website it is described as being ‘a unique one coat formula’ I didn’t find this to be true and had to give it 2 coats to get good coverage. On a positive note it dries very quickly which is great as I always manage to smudge my nails when it doesn’t dry quickly.

The Ultimate Guide To Washing Clothes

The Ultimate Guide To Washing Clothes

Clothing and Outerwear

Button-Down Shirts

  • Unbutton the shirt. Unfasten all buttons, including the tiny ones at the collar, before laundering. Otherwise, the agitation in the machine and the weight of other garments may cause buttonholes to tear.
  • Apply a stain remover. It’s a good idea to pretreat collars every time you wash them. “Once stains from body oils build up, they are very difficult to remove,” says Chris Allsbrooks, a textile analyst at the Drycleaning & Laundry Institute, in Laurel, Maryland. Use a stain remover or spot-clean with a mixture of water and liquid detergent. Pour it over the area, then rub with a soft toothbrush. It’s especially important to spot-clean permanent-press shirts and other items that have been treated with resins so they retain their shape, because these fabrics tend to hold soiling.
  • Use the permanent-press setting. Wash permanent-press shirts with all-purpose detergent on the permanent-press setting, which is gentler than the regular one, uses warm or hot water, and has a long cool-down rinse to further minimize wrinkling. Opt for the dryer’s permanent-press feature, which has a cool-down period at the end. Wash non-permanent-press shirts on the regular cycle in cold or warm water.


  • Wash cotton blends on gentle. Many knits made of cotton, synthetics, or blends can be machine-washed in cold or warm water on the gentle cycle with all-purpose or mild detergent. To combat wrinkles and stiffness, dry items on low for 5 to 10 minutes before laying them flat on a mesh sweater rack or a towel.
  • Use a zippered pillowcase for delicates. Place a wool, cashmere, or fine cotton sweater in a zippered pillowcase; wash on the delicate cycle with cold water and lay flat to dry.
  • Test silk sweaters for colorfastness. Delicate knits, like crochet and silk, are a different story: Dry-clean these, or test for colorfastness (to see if the color will bleed, place a dab of detergent on a dip a cotton swab in detergent and hold it on the fabric for two minutes) and hand-wash in cold water with mild detergent. Some knits may stretch out; reshape after washing and lay flat to dry.


  • Never lose a sock again. One of the most frustrating aspects of doing laundry is the number of socks that suspiciously go missing. Forget putting out an APB: Simply pin each pair together before throwing it in the machine. No sorting, no matching necessary afterward.


  • Wash jeans in cold water. Most denim is top-dyed, meaning only the surface of the fibers is colored. To keep jeans from fading or acquiring white streaks, wash in small loads in cold water (with more water than clothes) with all-purpose detergent. This cuts down on abrasion, says Allsbrooks.
  • Stretch the legs to prevent shrinkage. “It’s common for jeans to shrink in length” when washed, says Steve Boorstein, author of The Clothing Doctor’s 99 Secrets to Clothing Care. Hold them by the waistband and legs and gently stretch them vertically before drying. Dry on low or medium heat; overdrying causes unnecessary wear and tear, so take jeans out when the legs are done but the seams and the waistband are slightly damp.

Hats and Gloves

  • Wash knit hats and gloves like sweaters. Follow the same instructions based on different fabric types. Cotton blends can be machine-washed cold on delicates, wool and cashmere on the delicate cycle with cold water, and so on.
  • Spot-clean structured hats. Newsboy and baseball caps could become misshapen so its best to keep them out of the washing machine.
  • Hand-wash leather-trimmed gloves. You can hand-wash gloves with small sections of leather if the leather is the same color as the knit; otherwise bleeding may be a problem. To dry, insert the handle of a wooden spoon in one finger and set the spoon end in a vase. This will help the glove retain its shape.

Down and Polyester Coats

  • Wash adult coats in warm water. You can wash down coats in front-loading machines with a mild powder detergent and warm water on the gentle cycle. (If you have a top-loader, take these coats to a dry cleaner; most top-loaders have agitators that can compress and displace down filling and prevent pieces from tumbling freely.)
  • Use towels for speed drying. Smaller items, like children’s jackets, whether filled with down or polyester, can go in a front- or top-loader on the gentle cycle; tumble dry on low. Put a few clean, dry towels in the dryer to help soak up excess moisture and speed drying.

Undergarments and Delicates

Everyday Bras and Lingerie

  • Set the washing machine to the gentle cycle. Most lingerie can be put through the machine’s gentle cycle, even if the labels say “hand-wash.” Use all-purpose detergent with cotton and synthetics; opt for mild detergent with lacy fabrics.
  • Apply a stain solution. Pretreat yellow perspiration stains by rubbing them with mild soap and warm water; let soak for 30 minutes.
  • Place delicates in zippered mesh bags. Protect hosiery, bras, bustiers, camisoles, slips, and any other garments with straps or underwires by placing them in zippered mesh bags, which will keep them from twisting or snagging; fasten clasps to prevent them from catching on the netting. Use a bag with fine mesh so hooks can’t get through.
  • Wash undergarments separately. Wash in light loads, and never throw them in with heavy items, as these can cause wires to bend or break, says Chris Allsbrooks, a textile analyst at the Drycleaning & Laundry Institute, in Laurel, Maryland.
  • Don’t use the dryer. Air-dry to prevent damage to underwires and straps.

Fine Bras and Lingerie

  • Hand-washing is best. Hand-washing is often the best way to care for ornate pieces and those made of delicate fabrics, like silk. Let the pieces soak for a few minutes in warm or cool water, then gently squeeze the suds through the fabric; rinse and roll in a towel to absorb excess moisture before hanging them to dry. Bras, nightgowns, and the like are not apt to be heavily soiled, so “hand washing gets them cleaner than you might think,” says Allsbrooks.
  • Clean lingerie while you’re in the shower. Get the article wet, lather a pea-size amount of mild shampoo or baby shampoo in your hands and wash, as suggested, then air-dry.

Baby Clothes

  • For an infant, use an extremely mild detergent to start. The skin of an infant is often too sensitive for the chemicals in many detergents and bleaches, so textile analyst Chris Allsbrooks advises introducing these products gradually. She followed this timeline with her son: For the first six months, she used Dreft, a very mild detergent formulated for babies ($15, dreft.com for stores).
  • Then upgrade to a stain-fighting detergent. When he started eating solid foods, she moved on to Ultra Cheer Free & Gentle, which is “a little stronger and better at getting out stains from pureed spinach,” she says. Once he was eating regular food, it was “straight on to the Tide.” Wash with warm water and tumble dry on low. “Using the lowest heat setting will minimize static electricity, lessening the need for dryer sheets,” says Sandra Phillips, a cleaning consultant and the author of A Clean Break ($10, amazon.com).


  • Don’t overload the washing machine. To ensure thorough cleaning, wash underwear in light loads. Use the gentle cycle with warm water and all-purpose detergent, unless the label specifies “mild.”
  • Dry on low. Tumble-dry items that contain spandex on low or air-dry them to prevent shrinking.
  • Hand-wash delicate items. As with fine bras and lingerie, anything with delicate lace should be washed by hand.


  • Rinse, launder, and air-dry. Rinse them well when you get home from the pool or the beach to remove chlorine or salt water, which can cause fading or changes in color; chlorine can also damage elasticity. Launder by hand or in the machine, as with everyday bras and lingerie. Air-dry.


  • Follow underwear-washing instructions. If the item has underwires, use a mesh bag. Since shapewear typically contains spandex, air-dry or tumble-dry on low.