How to Create a 1950s Look

Written by june lee
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How to Create a 1950s Look
The poodle skirt was a popular style for teens in the 1950s. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)

Classic and feminine, fashion in the 1950s varied from demure A-line dresses in checkered prints to tight cigarette trousers and red lipstick. Hollywood icons such as Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor made the 1950s a decade of style to remember. You can easily recreate the charming allure of the 1950s for a costume party, special occasion or performance with the right accessories, clothing, hair and make-up.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Full gingham skirt or A-line dress
  • Cigarette trousers or pencil skirt
  • Cropped cardigan
  • Kitten heel pumps or saddle shoes
  • Red lipstick
  • Black eyeliner
  • Black mascara
  • 1950s accessories
  • Curling iron
  • Hairspray

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  1. 1

    Decide what 1950s style you want to recreate. The 1950s signalled a return to a domestic aesthetic, evident in below-the-knee full skirts and house dresses worn by housewives. According to Enjoy Your Style, there was a push for women to return to the traditional role of mother and wife after World War II. Alongside this domestic, modest and feminine style was also a rebellious, "sex bomb" look made famous by Marilyn Monroe.

  2. 2

    Wear a vintage 1950s full skirt or A-line dress for the wholesome housewife look with prints such as gingham, cherries or stripes. To add more volume, try wearing a crinoline underneath. Also look for poodle skirts, which were made popular by young teen women during the '50s. You can find '50s clothing in vintage stores or '50s-inspired clothing at costume shops.

  3. 3

    Pair a polka dot halter top with black cigarette trousers for a more sultry, rebellious look. As an alternative, you can try a curve-hugging pencil skirt. Look for red, navy and white for a 1950s navy inspiration.

  4. 4

    Throw on a cropped cardigan for more '50s style. Try a bold colour like red or green if you're wearing black and white.

  5. 5

    Wear red pumps with a low kitten heel or classic black and white saddle shoes.

  6. 6

    Add on the accessories. Look for '50s-inspired beaded clutches, small silk scarves, cigarette holders or pearl necklaces. Top off your outfit with 1950s hats such as unique pillbox hats and small berets. A pillbox with a bit of lace or netting adds mystery. You can also wear cat-eye eyeglasses, which can be found in costume shops.

  7. 7

    Apply '50s make-up to make the look more believable. Look for ruby red lipsticks for full lips, soft pink blush and black eyeliner. Create a "cat eye" by slightly winging out your eyeliner at the corner of your eyes. Apply a generous amount of black mascara or use false lashes to create the classic doe-eyed look of the '50s, made popular by Audrey Hepburn.

  8. 8

    Finish the look by creating a '50s hairstyle. Add soft pin curls in your hair for a glamorous Hollywood look with a 1-inch curling iron, or flip the ends of your hair out with a straight iron for a more crisp look. Use hairspray to hold the style and shine serum to keep your hair looking healthy and free of fly-aways.

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