1950s Dresses

The 1950s was a decade of change. 1950 still felt like the 40s, but 1959 was looking more like the 60s. It's also the decade when Britain got a new Queen, and she was young and beautiful. For the first time ever, there was a monarch that young women could aspire to look like. Millions watched the first televised Coronation, and they admired Norman Hartnell's design, the apogee of 1950s dresses.

From New Look to New Youth

The biggest change was in the fashion market, and this drove changes in style. Until the 50s, the most cutting-edge designs were for women in their thirties or forties. These were the ladies with money to spend. Typically, they were married and had children. There was an air of maturity about the fashion industry. Compared to the UK, change happened much earlier in the US. Youth culture emerged, creating new idioms in music, clothing and speech.

Back in the UK, rationing persisted until 1952, and post-war austerity measures held things back. The British Government encouraged export, and the British people had to wait patiently. After the middle of the decade, things were starting to look different.

We can see all this in the styles of 1950s dresses. At the dawn of the decade, Dior's 'New Look' was still the key aspiration for young women. Many made their own interpretation. Compared to earlier styles, dresses were longer and fuller. Waists were smaller, and busts were bigger. Shoulder pads were gone, and the silhouette was far more feminine. It was a very glamorous look. Necklines became lower, and evening dresses were often strapless.

From the middle of the decade, we see another iconic 50s dress style, the shift dress. It began with a style called the sack dress. This was later refined by a new designer, Mary Quant. Other designers, like Chanel, were also moving away from pinched waists.

At the same time, there was now an alternative silhouette. Long, slim-fitting dresses restored glamour, and made later 50s dresses sexier. Picture a young Marilyn Monroe, compare that to her iconic heyday, and you have the 1950s in a nutshell.

Forward looking designers were well-aware of the potential for mass-produced clothes. Before the 50s, ready made garments carried a stigma. Now, they were desirable and affordable. We shouldn't forget the influence of Marks and Spencer. They weren't cheap, but they were good value. The knitted sweater-dress was a very popular 50s style, typically bought from M&S.

If you're inspired to find out more on the 1950s, and revive some of its styles, ModCloth have wide range of retro clothing that includes 1950s dresses. You'll find designs that recapture the spirit of the 'New Look,' and the energy of the emerging youth culture.

Hepburn Style BLACK 1950's Rockabilly Swing Evening Pinup Prom Retro Satin Dress
Hepburn Style BLACK 1950's Rockabilly Swing Evening Pinup Prom Retro Satin Dress
$49.99
Time Remaining: 11d 17h 7m
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Hepburn Style Dress Red 1950's 1960’s Rockabilly Swing Evening Pinup Prom Retro
Hepburn Style Dress Red 1950's 1960’s Rockabilly Swing Evening Pinup Prom Retro
$49.99
Time Remaining: 4d 2h 49m
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Hepburn Style Dress Navy Blue 1950's 1960’s Rockabilly Evening Pinup Prom Retro
Hepburn Style Dress Navy Blue 1950's 1960’s Rockabilly Evening Pinup Prom Retro
$49.99
Time Remaining: 3d 21h 25m
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Womens 1950s Vintage  Rockabilly Shirt Cocktail Evening Party Swing Dresses
Womens 1950s Vintage Rockabilly Shirt Cocktail Evening Party Swing Dresses
$29.99
Time Remaining: 28d 9h 57m
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H&R LONDON BLUE POLKA DOT PINUP SWING 1950's HOUSEWIFE DRESS VINTAGE ROCKABILLY
H&R LONDON BLUE POLKA DOT PINUP SWING 1950's HOUSEWIFE DRESS VINTAGE ROCKABILLY
$54.99
Time Remaining: 29d 2h 13m
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H&R LONDON BLACK POLKA DOT PINUP SWING 1950's HOUSEWIFE DRESS VINTAGE ROCKABILLY
H&R LONDON BLACK POLKA DOT PINUP SWING 1950's HOUSEWIFE DRESS VINTAGE ROCKABILLY
$54.99
Time Remaining: 17d 1h 50m
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Hepburn Style Eggplant Rockabilly Swing  Pinup Prom Retro Satin Dress 1950's 60s
Hepburn Style Eggplant Rockabilly Swing Pinup Prom Retro Satin Dress 1950's 60s
$49.99
Time Remaining: 17d 19m
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CHEAP~ Polka dot Swing 1950s pinup Dress Vintage Rockabilly Evening Prom Dress
CHEAP~ Polka dot Swing 1950s pinup Dress Vintage Rockabilly Evening Prom Dress
$21.42
Time Remaining: 18d 12h 11m
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BLACK WITH BIG RED POLKA DOTS DRESS PINUP SWING 1950's VINTAGE ROCKABILLY 0211
BLACK WITH BIG RED POLKA DOTS DRESS PINUP SWING 1950's VINTAGE ROCKABILLY 0211
$44.99
Time Remaining: 13d 4h 28m
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H&R BLUE POLKA DOT PINUP SWING 1950's HOUSEWIFE DRESS VINTAGE ROCKABILLY 9058
H&R BLUE POLKA DOT PINUP SWING 1950's HOUSEWIFE DRESS VINTAGE ROCKABILLY 9058
$49.99
Time Remaining: 5d 3h 42m
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BEAUTIFUL H&R LONDON BLACK SATIN PARTY 1950's EVENING DRESS VINTAGE MARILYN
BEAUTIFUL H&R LONDON BLACK SATIN PARTY 1950's EVENING DRESS VINTAGE MARILYN
$49.99
Time Remaining: 18d 22h 30m
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H&R LONDON 6851 BLACK RED PIPING PINUP SWING 1950's DRESS VINTAGE ROCKABILLY
H&R LONDON 6851 BLACK RED PIPING PINUP SWING 1950's DRESS VINTAGE ROCKABILLY
$49.99
Time Remaining: 24d 20h 43m
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HEPBURN RED PENCIL 1950's ROCKABILLY SWING EVENING PINUP PROM RETRO DRESS
HEPBURN RED PENCIL 1950's ROCKABILLY SWING EVENING PINUP PROM RETRO DRESS
$36.00
Time Remaining: 17d 1h 12m
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Vintage Rockabilly Polka Dot 1950's Pinup Housewife Swing Tea Party P
Vintage Rockabilly Polka Dot 1950's Pinup Housewife Swing Tea Party P
$17.99
Time Remaining: 3d 9h 55m
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H&R LONDON BLACK POLKA DOT PINUP SWING 1950's HOUSEWIFE DRESS VINTAGE ROCKABILLY
H&R LONDON BLACK POLKA DOT PINUP SWING 1950's HOUSEWIFE DRESS VINTAGE ROCKABILLY
$49.99
Time Remaining: 7d 3h 6m
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Women Rockabilly Vintage 1950's 60s Retro Pinup Housewife Party Swing Dress
Women Rockabilly Vintage 1950's 60s Retro Pinup Housewife Party Swing Dress
$27.15
Time Remaining: 1d 19h 52m
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Vintage 1950s Dress / 50s Cotton Party Dress / Floral Novelty Print / XS
Vintage 1950s Dress / 50s Cotton Party Dress / Floral Novelty Print / XS
$124.00
Time Remaining: 7d 8h 45m
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H&R LONDON BLACK RED HEARTS PINUP SWING 1950's  DRESS VINTAGE ROCKABILLY 6904
H&R LONDON BLACK RED HEARTS PINUP SWING 1950's DRESS VINTAGE ROCKABILLY 6904
$49.99
Time Remaining: 6d 4h 10m
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Hepburn Style Dress Black 1950s 1960s Rockabilly Swing Evening Pinup Prom Retro
Hepburn Style Dress Black 1950s 1960s Rockabilly Swing Evening Pinup Prom Retro
$39.99
Time Remaining: 27d 4h 46m
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Vintage 1950s Dress / Sheer Organdy Floral Party Dress / Yellow Sun Dress / S
Vintage 1950s Dress / Sheer Organdy Floral Party Dress / Yellow Sun Dress / S
$124.00
Time Remaining: 7d 23h 48m
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BLACK WITH WHITE POLKA DOTS DRESS PINUP SWING 1950's H&R 0211 VINTAGE ROCKABILLY
BLACK WITH WHITE POLKA DOTS DRESS PINUP SWING 1950's H&R 0211 VINTAGE ROCKABILLY
$46.00
Time Remaining: 25d 4h 9m
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H&R LONDON WHITE with PINK FLORAL PINUP SWING 1950's DRESS ROCKABILLY PROM 6581
H&R LONDON WHITE with PINK FLORAL PINUP SWING 1950's DRESS ROCKABILLY PROM 6581
$49.99
Time Remaining: 21d 4h 51m
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H&R LONDON RED POLKA DOT PINUP SWING 1950's HOUSEWIFE DRESS VINTAGE ROCKABILLY
H&R LONDON RED POLKA DOT PINUP SWING 1950's HOUSEWIFE DRESS VINTAGE ROCKABILLY
$54.99
Time Remaining: 17d 1h 49m
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H&R LONDON RED WITH WHITE STRAPS PINUP SWING 1950's HOUSEWIFE DRESS VINTAGE
H&R LONDON RED WITH WHITE STRAPS PINUP SWING 1950's HOUSEWIFE DRESS VINTAGE
$49.99
Time Remaining: 21d 4h 33m
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Vtg 1950s 60s Black Polka Dot Day Dress  Pinup Rockabilly Lucy Size Large
Vtg 1950s 60s Black Polka Dot Day Dress Pinup Rockabilly Lucy Size Large
$14.99
Time Remaining: 10d 6h 31m
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NEW VINTAGE 1950'S ROCKABILLY RETRO BLACK PENCIL WIGGLE PIN UP vintage DRESS
NEW VINTAGE 1950'S ROCKABILLY RETRO BLACK PENCIL WIGGLE PIN UP vintage DRESS
$40.56
Time Remaining: 27d 14h 20m
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Hearts & Roses London Red Tattoo 1950s Rockabilly Vintage Party Prom Dress
Hearts & Roses London Red Tattoo 1950s Rockabilly Vintage Party Prom Dress
$60.84
Time Remaining: 27d 3h 11m
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VINTAGE 1950s-1960s BLACK AND WHITE FLAIR DRESS
VINTAGE 1950s-1960s BLACK AND WHITE FLAIR DRESS
$25.00
Time Remaining: 10d 8h 8m
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Vintage 1950s Xxs Turquoise Black EmbroiderEd Fiesta Western Swing Dress
Vintage 1950s Xxs Turquoise Black EmbroiderEd Fiesta Western Swing Dress
$24.99
Time Remaining: 10d 21h 58m
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Lot of 12 - 1940s 1950s Vintage Clothing Lot - Dresses
Lot of 12 - 1940s 1950s Vintage Clothing Lot - Dresses
$395.00
Time Remaining: 6d 19h 48m
Buy It Now for only: $395.00
BEAUTIFUL H&R LONDON RED SATIN PARTY 1950's EVENING DRESS VINTAGE MARILYN PROM
BEAUTIFUL H&R LONDON RED SATIN PARTY 1950's EVENING DRESS VINTAGE MARILYN PROM
$49.99
Time Remaining: 18d 22h 42m
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Vintage 1950s ladies summer dress
Vintage 1950s ladies summer dress
$24.55
Time Remaining: 22h 45m
Vintage 1950s Polka Dot Rockabilly Swing Sundress
Vintage 1950s Polka Dot Rockabilly Swing Sundress
$17.99 (1 Bid)
Time Remaining: 1d 2h 11m
Vintage 1950s Shaheen Sarong Hawaiian Dress and Bolero Set
Vintage 1950s Shaheen Sarong Hawaiian Dress and Bolero Set
$150.00
Time Remaining: 3d 20h 36m
Buy It Now for only: $150.00
1950s 60s Vintage BLUE COTTON PRINT SHIRTWAIST DAY DRESS
1950s 60s Vintage BLUE COTTON PRINT SHIRTWAIST DAY DRESS
$20.00
Time Remaining: 15d 20h 32m
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PREOWNED VINTAGE WOMENS SLEEVELESS FORMAL DRESS 1950'S-1960'S
PREOWNED VINTAGE WOMENS SLEEVELESS FORMAL DRESS 1950'S-1960'S
$12.00
Time Remaining: 23h 40m
Vintage 1950s 1960s Red Plaid Toni Todd Dress Sailor Collar Pinup Rockabilly
Vintage 1950s 1960s Red Plaid Toni Todd Dress Sailor Collar Pinup Rockabilly
$69.91
Time Remaining: 23h 7m
Buy It Now for only: $93.91
1940s 1950s vintage Red taffeta party cocktail dress med Prom
1940s 1950s vintage Red taffeta party cocktail dress med Prom
$24.99
Time Remaining: 22h 24m
HEPBURN STYLE PLUS SIZE BLUE 1950's ROCKABILLY PINUP PROM RETRO SATIN DRESS GLAM
HEPBURN STYLE PLUS SIZE BLUE 1950's ROCKABILLY PINUP PROM RETRO SATIN DRESS GLAM
$61.99
Time Remaining: 18d 18h 41m
Buy It Now for only: $61.99
Woman's vintage 1950's cotton Ditsy Print Circle Skirt dress. Rockabilly. B.35
Woman's vintage 1950's cotton Ditsy Print Circle Skirt dress. Rockabilly. B.35"
$53.00
Time Remaining: 6d 22h 45m
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HEPBURN STYLE DRESS PLUS SIZE BLACK 1950's ROCKABILLY PINUP PROM RETRO SATIN
HEPBURN STYLE DRESS PLUS SIZE BLACK 1950's ROCKABILLY PINUP PROM RETRO SATIN
$54.99
Time Remaining: 28d 21h 16m
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1950s Vintage Carlye Blue Linen Dress
1950s Vintage Carlye Blue Linen Dress
$35.00
Time Remaining: 9d 2h 58m
Buy It Now for only: $35.00
Vintage 1950s Dress / 50s Polished Cotton Dress / Dutch Print / Muriel Ryan / M
Vintage 1950s Dress / 50s Polished Cotton Dress / Dutch Print / Muriel Ryan / M
$114.00
Time Remaining: 7d 22h 51m
Buy It Now for only: $114.00
H&R LONDON BLACK BIG WHITE POLKA DOT PINUP SWING 1950's HOUSEWIFE DRESS VINTAGE
H&R LONDON BLACK BIG WHITE POLKA DOT PINUP SWING 1950's HOUSEWIFE DRESS VINTAGE
$54.99
Time Remaining: 24d 20h 30m
Buy It Now for only: $54.99
Women's Vintage Handmade Cotton Handsewn BLUE 1950s Swing Dress Rhinestones SZ M
Women's Vintage Handmade Cotton Handsewn BLUE 1950s Swing Dress Rhinestones SZ M
$11.95
Time Remaining: 3d 6h 14m
Buy It Now for only: $11.95

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