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Guide To Buying Vintage 1950's Women's Dresses

Updated on September 17, 2009
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The 1950's were an exciting and glamorous time. The first credit cards were introduced, the McCarthy Witch Hunts inspired the creation of 'The Crucible', WW II ended, DNA was discovered, Hilary climbed Everest, Stalin died, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus, the Cat in the Hat was published for the first time, and Mao Zedong really kicked off Communism in China.

The fashions were pretty hot too. Women were still largely relegated to the home, which meant that they had all day to devote their energies towards keeping the house looking nice and being feminine. Nowadays, though we no doubt appreciate the choice to go out and work and pursue a career, many women find that they barely have enough energy to drag themselves to the mirror every morning to make themselves presentable.

It is therefore little wonder that many men and women seek to recreate the glamor and alleged innocence of the 1950's by wearing clothing which was popular at the time.

1950's style included cashmere sweaters, poodle skirts, ballerina style formal dresses, and both full skirts and straight sheaths for going out and about.

The 1950's marked an era of major change, and the fashions of the time reflect that. Some, like the poodle skirt, ballerina dress and floral full skirted dresses which were popular at the time, represented the innocence which was fast being lost in the post WW II world.

On the other hand, straight sheath dresses, rolled up t-shirts, 'Grease' style jackets and shirtwaister styles (where a shirt became the top of a dress or skirt,) represented the new world which was fast approaching. Rock n' Roll was making its influence felt and changing fashion with it.

You'll often find cute motifs on older 50's dresses. Puppies, kittens, and flowers are all quite common motifs, especially on skirts and blouses intended for teenagers and younger women.

As you're no doubt becoming aware, the term “1950's vintage” actually covers a rather wide range of styles of dress. Older women often wore hourglass suits, which tapered in at the wast and accentuated a fetching female figure. Meanwhile these women's daughters were out with their skirts slowly creeping up and up, closer to the knee

Some younger women eschewed skirts entirely and took a bold step into fitting pedal pusher pants. You'll see the clash of old and new styles portrayed to great effect in the movie 'Grease'.

Whether you want to be Sandra Dee, or an edgier vixen, remember, sizes aren't now what they used to be. We've all grown bigger over the years, so as a reader added on a previous article on this type, go by the measurements of the garments, not the tagged sizes.


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    • Gypsy Willow profile image

      Gypsy Willow 7 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

      Takes me back a bit but I remember Dior's new look being translated into "best" dresses for young girls and I wore mine with pride. Thanks for a lovely hub