How to dress like '50s women

Flaunt your 1950s glamour by dressing like the iconic, fashion-forward women that represented the '50s with flair. Women shook the fashion world with a vengeance after World War II and dressed with style and glamour that showed off their narrow waists. Recreate the looks that women wore during this time period using items you may own or can be found at vintage stores. Bring back the sophistication and the chic looks that women embraced with finesse in the '50s.

1950s glamour

Choose an A-line gown featuring a fitted bodice. This style flairs out from the waist down. The gown can reach the floor or hit just below the knee. Pick a neckline that flatters your figure such as a strapless gown that Marilyn Monroe was famous for wearing.

Pair your dress with nude stockings and high heels in a colour that coordinates with your dress. For example, the colour red was very stylish in the '50s.

Accessorise the dress with as much jewellery as desired. The '50s women embraced the word glamour; therefore, when they dressed up, there were no boundaries. Carry a small, jewelled purse to accent your gown.


Show off your sophisticated side, similar to Grace Kelly, by wearing a Chanel-inspired suit that was trendy in the '50s.

Dress yourself in a double- or single-breasted jacket with three-quarter-length or full-length sleeves. The jacket should be tailored or belted at the waist to show off a slim waist line. Jackets may contain ruffles or detailing around the collar and can come in any colour. Depending on the style of the jacket, you can wear a solid colour blouse underneath to give additional colour to the suit.

Step into a long pencil skirt. The skirt should hit just below your knee and should match the colour of the jacket.

Wear nude stockings to cover legs in cooler weather. You do not need stockings in warmer weather.

Pair the outfit with heels, a favourite of women in the '50s. The heel height can range from 2.5 to 7.5 cm (1 inch to 3 inches). Accessorise with a small pillbox hat or silk headscarf, large sunglasses and delicate jewellery.


Think of Audrey Hepburn in the 1950s when determining a style to emulate for dressing casual. Women focused on wearing skirts, regardless of the occasion; therefore, even when dressing down, they were always slightly glamorous.

Choose a sleeveless cotton dress to wear for your outfit. The dress should mimic Christian Dior's infamous H-line that was popular in the era. The H-line dress is broad shouldered with straps that are thicker than a spaghetti strap, about 2.5 to 5 cm (1 inch to 2 inches) wide. The length of the dress should be tea length, hitting just below the knee. The dress does not have to be boring. You can have fun with the print and choose something bold and colourful like with bright red polka dots.

Stay with the chic housewife look and pair the dress with kitten heels that are no higher than 5 cm (2 inches), or go comfortable and casual with sandals in a coordinating colour.

Accessorise the outfit with a scarf worn around the neck or wrapped around your head. If you wear a headscarf, wear a necklace.


Style your hair to resemble looks from the '50s. Wear short gloves for a day look, or long gloves for an evening look. Wear era-appropriate make-up such as long, black eyelashes and bold red lips. Capes were worn during cold weather.

Things You'll Need

  • Ball gown
  • Heels 2.5 to 7.5 cm (1 inch to 3 inch)
  • Jewellery
  • Small purse
  • Single or double-breasted suit jacket
  • Long pencil skirt
  • Blouse
  • Nude stockings
  • Pill box hat
  • Silk scarf
  • Sunglasses
  • Sleeveless cotton dress
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About the Author

Tabitha Harwell has been writing since 2008, with articles appearing in local publications and various websites. Her background includes a career in the fashion and beauty industry. Harwell holds a Bachelor of Arts in public relations.