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
$44.99
Time Remaining: 12d 23h 1m
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Vintage 1950s true vintage Gay Gibson Wiggle Pencil Rockabilly Pinup Dress
Vintage 1950s true vintage Gay Gibson Wiggle Pencil Rockabilly Pinup Dress
$29.99
Time Remaining: 2h 33m
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
$44.99
Time Remaining: 18d 6h 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
$49.49
Time Remaining: 18d 7h 44m
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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
$44.99
Time Remaining: 8d 9h 1m
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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: 28d 1h 46m
Buy It Now for only: $25.79
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
$44.99
Time Remaining: 5d 8h 43m
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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
$44.99
Time Remaining: 7d 10h 4m
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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
$44.99
Time Remaining: 20d 4h 24m
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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
$40.49
Time Remaining: 14d 10h 22m
Buy It Now for only: $40.49
Luouse Classy Vintage Audrey Hepburn Style 1950's Rockabilly Swing Evening Dress
Luouse Classy Vintage Audrey Hepburn Style 1950's Rockabilly Swing Evening Dress
$22.00
Time Remaining: 29d 20h 6m
Buy It Now for only: $22.00
Vintage Style Sailor Swing Black Nautical Halter Dress 1950s Rockabilly Retro
Vintage Style Sailor Swing Black Nautical Halter Dress 1950s Rockabilly Retro
$49.49
Time Remaining: 8h 45m
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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
$44.99
Time Remaining: 6d 9h 36m
Buy It Now for only: $44.99
Vintage Hepburn Women 1950s Rockabilly Polka Dot Housewife Party Swing Dress Q
Vintage Hepburn Women 1950s Rockabilly Polka Dot Housewife Party Swing Dress Q
$20.99
Time Remaining: 3d 20h 11m
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A Norman Original 1950s true vintage Cocktail Sheath Dress
A Norman Original 1950s true vintage Cocktail Sheath Dress
$39.99
Time Remaining: 2h 12m
Vintage Retro Dress Dancing Party Rockabilly Swing Jive Prom 1950s 1960s Black S
Vintage Retro Dress Dancing Party Rockabilly Swing Jive Prom 1950s 1960s Black S
$19.99
Time Remaining: 1d 11h 39m
HEPBURN RED PENCIL 1950's ROCKABILLY SWING EVENING PINUP PROM RETRO DRESS
HEPBURN RED PENCIL 1950's ROCKABILLY SWING EVENING PINUP PROM RETRO DRESS
$32.40
Time Remaining: 18d 7h 6m
Buy It Now for only: $32.40
Hepburn Style Dress Black 1950s 1960s Rockabilly Swing Evening Pinup Prom Retro
Hepburn Style Dress Black 1950s 1960s Rockabilly Swing Evening Pinup Prom Retro
$35.99
Time Remaining: 28d 10h 41m
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Vintage Floral Dress with Belt Blue/Green 1950s 60s
Vintage Floral Dress with Belt Blue/Green 1950s 60s
$18.99 (1 Bid)
Time Remaining: 4d 5h 19m
Women 1950s Vintage Retro Shirtwaist  Evening Party Dresses Swing Wedding Skater
Women 1950s Vintage Retro Shirtwaist Evening Party Dresses Swing Wedding Skater
$29.99
Time Remaining: 25d 16h
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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
$49.49
Time Remaining: 8h 7m
Buy It Now for only: $49.49
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
$44.99
Time Remaining: 22d 10h 45m
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Vintage 1950's Eleanor Green Polka Dot Silk Belted Shirt Dress Rockabilly NOS
Vintage 1950's Eleanor Green Polka Dot Silk Belted Shirt Dress Rockabilly NOS
$74.99
Time Remaining: 10h 12m
Buy It Now for only: $124.99
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: 19d 18h 6m
Buy It Now for only: $21.42
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
$44.99
Time Remaining: 5d 3h 19m
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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
$41.40
Time Remaining: 26d 10h 3m
Buy It Now for only: $41.40
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: 3d 1h 46m
Buy It Now for only: $27.15
Womens Vintage 1950s Rockabilly Skaters Evening Prom Party Wedding Swing Dresses
Womens Vintage 1950s Rockabilly Skaters Evening Prom Party Wedding Swing Dresses
$26.99
Time Remaining: 14d 18h 12m
Buy It Now for only: $26.99
Clearance Hell Bunny Dress New Bargain Sale 1950s Party Prom Vintage Retro
Clearance Hell Bunny Dress New Bargain Sale 1950s Party Prom Vintage Retro
$41.44
Time Remaining: 13d 21h 6m
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Womens 1940s 1950s Vintage Wedding Evening Party Dresses Red Swing Flared Skater
Womens 1940s 1950s Vintage Wedding Evening Party Dresses Red Swing Flared Skater
$34.99
Time Remaining: 23d 44m
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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
$44.99
Time Remaining: 26d 2h 37m
Buy It Now for only: $44.99
Vintage Yellow Cotton 1950's Full Skirt Summer Party Dress Swing Pin Up Dress
Vintage Yellow Cotton 1950's Full Skirt Summer Party Dress Swing Pin Up Dress
$165.00
Time Remaining: 6d 8h 35m
Buy It Now for only: $165.00
Vintage Checkered Dress Black White Plaid Small Medium 1950s 60s
Vintage Checkered Dress Black White Plaid Small Medium 1950s 60s
$16.99
Time Remaining: 2d 5h 21m
Buy It Now for only: $29.99
VINTAGE 1950s ORIGINAL SHEER PINK FLORAL FLOCK DRESS PARTY PROM SPARKLEY BUTTONS
VINTAGE 1950s ORIGINAL SHEER PINK FLORAL FLOCK DRESS PARTY PROM SPARKLEY BUTTONS
$38.37
Time Remaining: 5d 2h 25m
Vintage Women Floral Retro 1950s Rockabilly Housewife Pinup Party Swing Dress H
Vintage Women Floral Retro 1950s Rockabilly Housewife Pinup Party Swing Dress H
$14.99
Time Remaining: 5d 10h 25m
Buy It Now for only: $14.99
Vintage 1950's Orange Silk Party Dress NWT
Vintage 1950's Orange Silk Party Dress NWT
$74.99
Time Remaining: 10h 24m
Buy It Now for only: $124.99
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
$49.49
Time Remaining: 26d 2h 24m
Buy It Now for only: $49.49
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
$49.49
Time Remaining: 18d 7h 44m
Buy It Now for only: $49.49
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
$49.49
Time Remaining: 12d 2h 31m
Buy It Now for only: $49.49
Vintage BEAUTIFUL 1960s 1950s era dress WIGGLE DRESS 2 pc suit pencil skirt
Vintage BEAUTIFUL 1960s 1950s era dress WIGGLE DRESS 2 pc suit pencil skirt
$59.00
Time Remaining: 1d 1h 16m
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
$44.99
Time Remaining: 20d 4h 37m
Buy It Now for only: $44.99
Vintage 1950s Dress / 1960s Dress / 50s Cotton Dress / Gazelle Animal Print / S
Vintage 1950s Dress / 1960s Dress / 50s Cotton Dress / Gazelle Animal Print / S
$118.00
Time Remaining: 26d 9h 1m
Buy It Now for only: $118.00
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
$49.49
Time Remaining: 3h 10m
Buy It Now for only: $49.49
VOODOO VIXEN PEACH AND WHITE ROXY DRESS  PINUP SWING 1950's VINTAGE ROCKABILLY
VOODOO VIXEN PEACH AND WHITE ROXY DRESS PINUP SWING 1950's VINTAGE ROCKABILLY
$80.99
Time Remaining: 18d 7h 12m
Buy It Now for only: $80.99
Vintage 1950s Dress / 60s Dress / Red White Blue Novelty Print Wiggle Dress / XS
Vintage 1950s Dress / 60s Dress / Red White Blue Novelty Print Wiggle Dress / XS
$75.00
Time Remaining: 15d 6h 55m
Buy It Now for only: $75.00

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