The 1950s were a turbulent time in fashion history, and personally, one of my favorite decades to draw inspiration from. Now that the war was over, haute couture experienced a resurgence in popularity. While fitted waists and soft silhouettes were considered all the rage in the late 1940s, this was soon replaced by a new fashion statement: square shoulders and short skirts. In regards to game-changing textiles, polyester, acrylic, and spandex, and triacetate were all introduced in the 1950s.
The first garment that I was immediately inspired by is this 1954 silk taffeta ball gown designed by Christian Dior. Although it is a very feminine, soft dress, Dior has kept with the theme of the 1950s, and the dress is very constructed and contoured. The silhouette of his ball gown is structured by layers of taffeta, which he has sewn into the interlining of the skirt. On the right, this more modern take is designed by JJ’s House. Besides the obvious similarity in the color, these dresses also share a v-neck bodice, and slight draping on the skirt portion. I see a lot of Dior’s graceful yet structured elements in the more modern dress, and I definitely think inspiration was drawn from his 1950s pieces.
Another iconic development of the 1950s was the growth in intimate apparel. In order to achieve an hourglass silhouette, many ladies utilized intimate apparel to help enhance their curves and femininity. The boning on the lingerie was very light, but still emphasized curves and even gave the chest a pointier appearance (reminiscent of the bullet bra!). On the right, Bettie Page lingerie has made a comeback into the fashion market, and is beautifully historically accurate. The image on the left, from the early 1950s, is similar to the modern piece in regards to the mesh, boning, and underbust style. It’s so lovely that these elegant designs have carried into modern times, and now, they are readily available for all shapes and sizes.
In regards to menswear, tight-fitting drainpipe jeans became popular for both men and women. Elvis Presley is a perfect example of the youthful rebellion of the late 1950s- and he emphasized this rebellion with tight-fitting jeans in Jailhouse Rock. Jeans were considered casual sportswear in the 1950s, and were usually worn ankle-length or calf-length. On the right, skinny jeans for both men and women have remained consistently fashionable, and are a stable in many wardrobes around the world. In fact, one of the only changes I’ve seen in jeans over the past sixty years is a slight change in length.