The clothing of the 1950’s focused on neat, tailored lines and simple styles. Professional clothing was somewhat drab and uniform while casual clothing took more advantage of colour and flair. The clean, well-groomed style of this era, combined with some of the more playful elements make the 1950’s a fascinating time for fashion which is why 1950s retro clothing has never been more popular than it is now.
Men’s clothing in the 1950’s was subdued and intended to show class and professionalism. Tailored suits in dark, even drab colours, combined with the popular fedora hats were mainstays of the time. While men’s informal clothes were a bit more casual, allowing for un-tucked button-ups and a little more colour, the focus was still on neat grooming and professional appearance. A subtle western style in button up shirts was common, due to the popularity of western television shows and films.
Women’s 1950’s retro clothing was a little more playful. The post-war style began moving away from the utilitarian look and towards a more feminine flair. Both the flared poodle skirt and the more fitted pencil skirt were popular at the time. A woman with curves and a small waist was most desirable, so girdles were often part of the ensemble, and even the pencil skirts came with a belt to show off the lady’s hourglass figure. High heels and long gloves were important parts of more formal wear for women. In some more formal settings, 1950’s women would also wear tailored suit jackets with pencil skirts.
Everyday 1950’s styles for women were soft and feminine often making use of cottons and floral prints. Small strapped sleeves, with or without a small, stylish jacket, were also in vogue, as were broad “Peter Pan” collars, mandarin collars, and kimono sleeves. Accessories, often with a nature theme, such as flower broaches, were once again becoming popular. An underpinning of net or nylon tulle petticoats or crinoline maintained flared skirts. At this time, stockings were also still considered a must with any dress.
Cardigan sweaters were another staple of 1950’s fashion, both for men and women. Women would wear fitted sweaters with skirts, while young men would wear a more masculine version of the clothing article. Cardigan sweaters with a dressy pant and button up shirt were common attire for school aged young men.
The 1950’s are an interesting period from which to obtain retro clothing. The woman’s form was emphasized with subtle, feminine styles while masculine styles were neat and subdued.