A fascinating journey through 50s fashion

By Horsley Couture

Caption: Queen Elizabeth II and her then-Minister for Veterans' Affairs in Australia, 1954. The Queen's summer suit features a fitted short-sleeved jacket with a peplum and a full skirt.
Caption:  Singer Patti Page wearing a ‘bullet bra’ brassiere design in 1955.
Caption: Lisa Fonssagrives in a tailored suit features a long pencil skirt and a fitted jacket with peplum. Photograph by Toni Frissell for Harper's Bazaar, London, 1951

Couture is what we live and breathe here at Horsley, which is why the 1950s is one of our absolute favourite fashion eras! It was this period that saw the resurgence of haute couture after the austerity of the war years (and if you follow us on social media, you’ll know how much we LOVE couture!)

At the start of the 50s, square shoulders and short skirts were replaced by the soft femininity of Christian Dior's ‘New Look’ silhouette. This changed fashion forever, with its lovely and elegant sweeping longer skirts, fitted waist, and rounded shoulders – which in turn gave way to an unfitted, structural look later on.

Innovations in textile technology following the war resulted in new fabrics such as spandex, which fitted the suburban lifestyle of the 1950s, with its emphasis on casual sportswear for both men and women. Pants became very narrow, and were worn ankle-length. Shorts were very short in the early 1950s, and mid-thigh length Bermuda shorts remained fashionable through the remainder of the decade.

For the first time, teenagers became a force in fashion. This was especially true here in the UK, where the Teddy boys trend saw a surge in popularity. Previously, teenagers dressed similarly to their parents, but the era saw the development of a rebellious style.

We LOVE peplums and they’ve recently enjoyed a revival in modern fashion, but they were originally popular in the 50s when peplum jackets would be paired with a long, narrow pencil skirt. This was at a time when a tailored, feminine look was prized and accessories such as gloves and pearls were popular. Many women wore shirtdresses, halter-top sundresses, skirts with petticoats, and bolero jackets.

As the 50s went on, a new unfitted style of clothing appeared as an alternative to the tight waist and full skirt associated with Dior’s ‘New Look.’ One of our all-time favourite fashion inspirations, Coco Chanel, made a comeback and an important look of the late 1950s was the Chanel suit, with a braid-trimmed cardigan-style jacket and A-line skirt.
A popular style of underwear for women during the 1950s was the ‘bullet bra’, where cups were pointed in a conical shape. This design was popularized by actresses like Patti Page, Marilyn Monroe, and Lana Turner, who was nicknamed the ‘Sweater Girl’.

We hope you enjoyed our blog about the fabulously fashionable and fascinating fifties – you’ll probably know now why it’s one of our favourite fashion eras! Keep an eye out on our blog for more throwback blogs about fashion through the ages, and remember, you can follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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