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: 8d 21h 8m
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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: 2d 7h 43m
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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: 28d 23h 52m
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Women Vintage 1950's 60s Rockabilly Retro Pinup Housewife Prom Party Swing Dress
Women Vintage 1950's 60s Rockabilly Retro Pinup Housewife Prom Party Swing Dress
$25.79
Time Remaining: 23d 23h 52m
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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: 16d 2h 31m
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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: 1d 1h 26m
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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: 1d 6h 50m
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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: 18d 8h 52m
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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: 15d 16h 12m
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Hell Bunny Sea Sparkle Kitsch 1950s Swing Dress Party Prom Pinup Holiday
Hell Bunny Sea Sparkle Kitsch 1950s Swing Dress Party Prom Pinup Holiday
$63.96
Time Remaining: 28d 3h 15m
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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: 14d 5h 51m
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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: 4d 7h 7m
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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: 18d 8h 33m
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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: 3d 8h 11m
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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: 14d 4h 20m
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Vintage Style Sailor Swing Black Nautical Halter Dress 1950s Rockabilly Retro
Vintage Style Sailor Swing Black Nautical Halter Dress 1950s Rockabilly Retro
$54.99
Time Remaining: 26d 6h 52m
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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: 14d 5h 13m
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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: 14d 5h 50m
Buy It Now for only: $54.99
H & R LONDON WHITE PINK FLORAL DRESS PINUP SWING 1950s VINTAGE ROCKABILLY RETRO
H & R LONDON WHITE PINK FLORAL DRESS PINUP SWING 1950s VINTAGE ROCKABILLY RETRO
$54.99
Time Remaining: 8d 37m
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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: 22d 31m
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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: 26d 6h 14m
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Hell Bunny Pink Floral Chiffon 1950s Vintage Summer Prom Tea Ascot Dress
Hell Bunny Pink Floral Chiffon 1950s Vintage Summer Prom Tea Ascot Dress
$57.72
Time Remaining: 1d 1h 41m
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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: 26d 1h 17m
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Womens Pinup Retro1950s Vintage Shirtwaist Swing Skirts Flared Cocktail Dresses
Womens Pinup Retro1950s Vintage Shirtwaist Swing Skirts Flared Cocktail Dresses
$26.95
Time Remaining: 21h 26m
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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: 16d 2h 43m
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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: 10d 8h 29m
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Vintage 1950's 1960's Black Red Swing Rockabilly Prom Evening Party Dress Grace
Vintage 1950's 1960's Black Red Swing Rockabilly Prom Evening Party Dress Grace
$46.79
Time Remaining: 23d 2h 44m
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vintage 1950s party dress White and yellow tulle 50s tea length bridesmaid
vintage 1950s party dress White and yellow tulle 50s tea length bridesmaid
$98.00
Time Remaining: 3d 5h 53m
Buy It Now for only: $178.00
NEW VINTAGE 1950'S ROCKABILLY GOTH POLKA DOT PARTY PROM FORMAL EVENING DRESS
NEW VINTAGE 1950'S ROCKABILLY GOTH POLKA DOT PARTY PROM FORMAL EVENING DRESS
$46.79
Time Remaining: 2d 21h 33m
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VTG 1950s Cream LACE Bombshell Dress Pinup Party Wedding Prom Full Skirt Swing
VTG 1950s Cream LACE Bombshell Dress Pinup Party Wedding Prom Full Skirt Swing
$57.39
Time Remaining: 12d 10h 8m
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vintage 1950s party dress 50s buttercream floor length gown rockabilly wedding
vintage 1950s party dress 50s buttercream floor length gown rockabilly wedding
$88.00
Time Remaining: 3d 5h 35m
Buy It Now for only: $168.00
H&R BLACK BIG WHITE POLKA DOT PINUP SWING 1950s HOUSEWIFE DRESS VINTAGE RETRO
H&R BLACK BIG WHITE POLKA DOT PINUP SWING 1950s HOUSEWIFE DRESS VINTAGE RETRO
$49.99
Time Remaining: 14d 21h 1m
Buy It Now for only: $49.99
Vtg 1950s Dress Novelty Print Cotton Vintage 50s Day Dress w Full Skirt
Vtg 1950s Dress Novelty Print Cotton Vintage 50s Day Dress w Full Skirt
$35.00
Time Remaining: 1h 51m
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: 22d 43m
Buy It Now for only: $49.99
NEW VINTAGE 1950'S ROCKABILLY BLACK POLKADOT PIN UP FORMAL SWING PROM DRESS
NEW VINTAGE 1950'S ROCKABILLY BLACK POLKADOT PIN UP FORMAL SWING PROM DRESS
$45.23
Time Remaining: 29d 21h 42m
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Vtg 1950s Dress Pink & Green Floral Print Cotton Vintage 50s Dress w/ Full Skirt
Vtg 1950s Dress Pink & Green Floral Print Cotton Vintage 50s Dress w/ Full Skirt
$40.00
Time Remaining: 1h 51m
Ladies New 1950s Vintage Bright Red Sailor Girl Pencil Wiggle Dress
Ladies New 1950s Vintage Bright Red Sailor Girl Pencil Wiggle Dress
$40.61
Time Remaining: 4d 23h 47m
Buy It Now for only: $40.61
VINTAGE DRESS BY ADELE SIMPSON 1950'S BLACK 3/4 SLEEVES COCKTAIL
VINTAGE DRESS BY ADELE SIMPSON 1950'S BLACK 3/4 SLEEVES COCKTAIL
$45.00
Time Remaining: 1h 7m
New Ladies White 1950’s 60's Vtg Jackie O Wedding Party Prom Summer Swing Dress
New Ladies White 1950’s 60's Vtg Jackie O Wedding Party Prom Summer Swing Dress
$46.79
Time Remaining: 2d 22h 12m
Buy It Now for only: $46.79
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: 15d 22h 42m
Buy It Now for only: $61.99
c 1950s Vintage Ceil Chapman Lace Silk Party Cocktail Dress Full Skirt XS Lovely
c 1950s Vintage Ceil Chapman Lace Silk Party Cocktail Dress Full Skirt XS Lovely
$575.00
Time Remaining: 19d 8h 27m
Buy It Now for only: $575.00
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: 24d 7h 11m
Buy It Now for only: $60.84
Women Vintage 1950's 60s Rockabilly Retro Pinup Flared Party Evening Swing Dress
Women Vintage 1950's 60s Rockabilly Retro Pinup Flared Party Evening Swing Dress
$29.53
Time Remaining: 19d 23h 53m
Buy It Now for only: $29.53
HEPBURN STYLE DRESS PLUS SIZE EGGPLANT 1950's ROCKABILLY PINUP PROM RETRO SATIN
HEPBURN STYLE DRESS PLUS SIZE EGGPLANT 1950's ROCKABILLY PINUP PROM RETRO SATIN
$61.99
Time Remaining: 24d 7h 53m
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vintage 50s party dress 1950s tea length coral dress size small lace bridesmaid
vintage 50s party dress 1950s tea length coral dress size small lace bridesmaid
$88.00
Time Remaining: 3d 5h 42m
Buy It Now for only: $128.00

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