How to dress in 50's attire

Written by si kingston
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How to dress in 50's attire
Dresses and hats were popular 1950s attire. (1950s pink satin dress with hat image by DSL from

The 1950s was a time of great conservatism and conformity. Men, especially, lacked choices when it came to fashion. The mainstream '50s father dawned a traditionally coloured suit and hat, while his son, though not dressed in a workplace suit, had a business casual look. Women had more of a chance to express themselves through fashion, but they still restricted their clothing mostly to skirts and dresses. Capri pants were also acceptable in casual settings. Women often added flair with accessories such as scarves and hats.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Wear a poodle skirt. Poodle skirts have a poodle dog or other emblem sewn on the lower portion of the skirt. The skirt is a wide swing, ankle-length skirt. They were most often worn by young women with bobby socks and a short-sleeve, collarless T-shirt.

  2. 2

    Put on a knee-length dress. Dresses were most often worn by girls and women in the '50s. Trousers and shorts weren't usually permissible, although capri pants were acceptable in more casual settings. Dungarees, or jeans, were often worn by young women when lounging around the house.

  3. 3

    Step into a pleated skirt. Pleated skirts have a broader front panel and are more tailored than poodle skirts. The skirts are typically knee-length. In the '50s, they were worn with subtle heels and a buttoned blouse.

  4. 4

    Button up your '50s blouse. Most blouses worn at the time had buttons, although many young girls wore T-shirts. Popular blouses worn at the time include those that were very feminine with a kimono sleeve. Others were sleeveless, but still remained elegant with collars. Most blouses worn in the '50s were tucked in, with a belt around a high-waisted skirt.

  5. 5

    Accessorise with gloves, scarves, hats and cat eyeglasses. Gloves were commonly worn by women in the 1950s for any occasion. Many women had several different pairs. Most gloves stopped before the elbow. Scarves were draped over the hair and tied underneath the chin, and were often used by young girls to secure a ponytail. Cat eyeglasses were glasses whose topped corner was reminiscent of a cat eye.

  1. 1

    Put on a grey, dark blue or brown suit. Men didn't have many suit colour choices and they aired on the side of conformity rather than individuality. Place a white collar dress shirt and a traditionally coloured tie underneath. Accessorise this look with a hat. Hats were often worn by men in the '50s, especially with a suit.

  2. 2

    Dress like a prep. This look was young and conservative. Young men wore button up shirts, often made of plaid flannel, underneath a cardigan sweater or checkered vest. Casual slacks were a part of this look.

  3. 3

    Rebel with a leather jacket and jeans. This look, immortalised by the character Fonz from the TV show "Happy Days" and actor James Dean, was actually not at all mainstream. The rebel wore a tight-fitting leather coat with a plain, white T-shirt underneath. Tight-fitting jeans that had large cuffs at the bottom accompanied the leather jacket.

  4. 4

    Put on a cowboy shirt. Western films and TV shows were very popular during this era and it influenced men's fashion. Some men wore button up shirts with checkered or other Western patterns. The shirts squared at the shoulders and contained shirt pockets that formed triangles in the centre of the bottom pocket seam.

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