Changes were everywhere in the 50’s, including women’s fashion. The boxy, utilitarian look of the 40’s gave way to a classier, creative look that is still seen today. Women were boldly trying new styles that fit their personalities and choices, whether it was poodle skirts, beatnik inspired clothing, or other choices of the day.
Leading the charge with this change in women’s fashion was Hollywood. Actresses such as Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn were regularly imitated across the country. Women wanted that starlet look. In 1957, Audrey Hepburn stared in the movie “Funny Face”. Her slim fitting ankle length pants caught on immediately with women everywhere.
Dresses and skirts of the times defined the waist-line with a tailored look that included ballerina length hems, an hour glass look of rounded shoulders and hips as well as vibrant colors and patterns. The shift dress, with its belted and beltless options, became wildly popular across all cultural levels of society. Daytime and evening wear were more distinct and separate, as women desired “dressy” for those special events. The answer for many was the cocktail dress, which became the new semi-formal staple that every woman wanted in her wardrobe.
In the 50’s peplums became an important style element. With it tight waist and flared bottom, these jackets and blouses pared well with the new pencil skirts of the day. Tops became very feminine with “Peter Pan” collars and ornate, low cut necklines. Casual sportswear entered the scene with mix and match outfits that included “pedal pushers”, ankle-length pants and Bermuda shorts.
Shoes began to undergo rapid change in the 50’s. Wedges, platforms and peep toes were still popular. The new stiletto, however, with its sleek, thin heels gave every outfit an instant dose of glamour. Bold, costume jewelry in many colors and styles included multiple-stranded necklaces with white and clear stones, pearls, as well as rhinestone creations that imitated diamonds. Extravagant hairstyles generally replaced hats, though berets and smaller caps were still popular.