Fashion in the 50s

Fashion in the 50s

The fashion of the 50s is strongly linked to the society of the 50s. After reading this article you will know exactly:

  • What the social influences of the 50s were
  • What films were associated with 50s society?
  • What music was popular in the 50s?
  • What fashion trends were prevalent in the 50s?


In the 50s, the world was trying to recover from the devastation of the Second World War. There was a significant population growth, which we call the emergence of the baby boomer generation. The rivalry between the Soviet Union and the United States evolved into the Cold War.

The Korean War, the Arab-Israeli conflict, the Cuban Revolution and the start of the Vietnam War marked the military conflicts of the 1950s. The nuclear arsenal continued to develop, creating a tense geopolitical climate.

After the war, the Marshall Plan was used to rebuild the western part of Europe. Europe was divided into the countries of the Western bloc and the Soviet, Eastern bloc. The geographical point of division was called the Iron Curtain.

Television became widespread in the 1950s and by the end of the decade was in most homes in the United States.

In 1957, the Soviets launched a satellite called Sputnik 1, which flew over the United States. The space race was on.


Music in the 50s

The 50s were characterised by music genres such as Rock and Roll, Doo-Wop, Pop, Swing, Rhythm and Blues, Blues, Country music, Rockabilly and Jazz.

Frank Sinatra


Elvis Presley





Movies 50s

A wide variety of films were made in the 1950s. Studios and film companies sought to bring audiences back to the cinema after the advent of television.

Their films used more techniques, a wider screen and big productions.


The Robe (1953)


The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men (1952)


The Ten Commandments (1956)


The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad (1958)


Ben-Hur (1959)



Science fiction enjoyed its golden age in this decade. The atomic bomb and the science surrounding it, the Cold War and the quest for outer space put the science fiction film genre centre stage.


The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)


The Thing from Another World (1951)


The War of the Worlds (1953)


It Came from Outer Space (1953)


Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)


Them! (1954)


This Island Earth (1955)


Earth vs. the Flying Saucers (1956)


Forbidden Planet (1956)




Fashion in the 50s

The fashion of the 50s is characterised by the new period from 1945 onwards. After the Second World War, fashion was marked by a revival of haute couture. It was a period of reconstruction after the austerity of the war years.
Christian Dior’s New Look silhouette is characterised by a soft femininity. Longer skirts, fitted waists and rounded shoulders were fashionable in the 1950s.

Parisian fashion houses reopened in 1947 after the devastation of the Great War. Paris regained its position. Christian Dior and Cristóbal Balenciaga led the new style trends. Television, as well as magazines and films, played an important role in the spread of different styles.


Social changes and economic realities meant that many young people stayed at home, dependent on their parents. In colleges, skirts and sweaters were perceived as uniforms. Young adults returning to college had modest wardrobes. Even after graduation, they wore blue jeans, shirts and sweaters.

In 1958, the term beatnik was coined to mean sunglasses and berets and a black turtleneck look, with darker clothes worn by young people of both sexes.


New Look

Christian Dior presented his first collection on 12 February 1947. At the end of the fashion show, the editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar exclaimed, “It’s a great revolution, my dear Christian!” The Reuters correspondent quickly wrote the slogan on a sticky note. The news got to the United States faster than in other parts of France.

Christian Dior wrote a new chapter in fashion history with the New Look. “I wanted my clothes to be ‘constructed’, moulded to the curves of the female body, whose contours were stylized. I emphasized the waist, the volume of the hips, I accentuated the bust. To give more substance to my designs, I have lined almost all the fabrics with percale or taffeta, renewing a tradition long abandoned.”

The fashion editor of Vogue wrote: “We have witnessed a revolution in fashion, but also a revolution in the presentation of fashion.”
In the post-war years, a tailored, feminine look was highly valued. Gloves and pearls became popular accessories.


Intimate apparel

In the 1950s, a new shape of bra called the cathedral bra was introduced and became very popular. It was called a cathedral bra because the bones created a pointed curve over the breast. It was Marilyn Monroe, Lana Turner and Patti Page who popularised this fashion.


Space Age

In the mid-1950s, a new style of dress that was not tailored to the body appeared. Vogue Magazine called it the T-shirt dress. And Parisian designers began to turn the new wearer into haute couture.
Coco Chanel returned in 1954. She created the Chanel suit, an important look of the 1950s.



Women who had worn trousers during the war were not willing to give up the habit after the war. By 55, jeans had become popular among American women. New York became a design centre during the war and remained one for sportswear.


Cars from 50s

The 50s was also a defining decade for car lovers. In this decade cars became lower, longer and wider. The United States saw an economic boom after the war. The boom brought with it the appearance of chrome on cars.
Many car designers in the 1950s envisioned cars that incorporated ideas from planes and trains in terms of design. US car production surpassed that of other countries many times over. They made big profits. The 1950s saw an explosion in demand for cars, which had built up during the Depression and the war years.

Jaguar XK150 (1950)


Chevrolet Bel Air (1955)


Ford Thunderbird (1957)



Hair styles in the 50s


The hat was part of the everyday look. With the advent of the New Look, the hair became short and curly. By the mid 50s when hair became thicker and bouffant hairstyles became trendy not as many hats were worn.

The girls of the beat generation wore their hair long and straight



50s hairstyles women

Women imitated the hairstyles and hair colours of popular film actresses and fashion magazines. Grace Kelly, Jackie Kennedy, Elizabeth Taylor created styles. Female film stars were the shorter and thicker styles.

50s hairstyles men’s

Elvis Presley and James Dean were very influential in men’s fashion. In terms of hairstyles, high quiff-pompadour gelled hair strongly influenced men’s hairstyles in the 50s. Men’s Rockabilly artists and actors were all over the Pompadour fashion trend during this period.


In the 1950s, the world was rebuilding after the Second World War. In many areas of fashion, the 50s saw huge changes.

The second half of the 1940s saw the revival of haute couture in Paris. Christian Dior revolutionised fashion and women’s dressing with his New Look style.

Thanks to technological advances and the Cold War, the space race focused the world’s attention on space. This also led to changes in fashion.

In the 1950s, the American automobile industry flourished, which was also a major influence on design and design. The cars of the 50s are typical of the America of the 50s.


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