1950s Teenagers' Clothes

Updated April 17, 2017

Rock 'n' roll music and movies had a huge influence on teenage fashions of the 1950s. Teen idols like Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, James Dean and Marlon Brando set the "Greaser" trend for male teenagers. "Greasers" set a rebellious tone to the clean-cut "preppy" fashions of the 50s. Clean lines and tailored silhouettes reflected tidy, neat and groomed styles that were also inspired by celebrities like Annette Funicello, Frankie Avalon and Doris Day.

Greaser vs. Preppy

A black leather jacket and white rolled-sleeve T-shirt paired with blue jeans was referred to as the "Greaser" style, made popular by Marlon Brando in the film "The Wild One." On the opposite side of the spectrum was the "preppy" look, which featured polo necklines with knotted side-neck scarves along with three-quarter sleeve fitted shirts and circular skirts. Annette Funicello and Doris Day were clean-cut celebrities of the 1950s that influenced this look.

The "Paper Doll" Look

In the early 1950s, American designer Anne Fogarty created the "Paper Doll" look. She introduced the bouffant crinoline petticoat under full skirts. Certain styles included built-in petticoats worn with wide cinched belts and shirt-like tops. The influence also translated into bare-arm shirt dresses with cinched waists. The "Paper Doll" silhouette was translated into a variety of silhouettes, like the "Princess" dress with extended length peek-a-boo rayon linen slips. The trend also blended into sailor- and boating-inspired looks, such as the "sailor dress" with oversized square-like collars and contrast binding.

Skirts and Jumpers

Scoop neckline blouses were worn with mid-knee and below-the-knee full dirndl or circular skirts, as well as full denim pleated skirts. The "Peppermint" shirt, which was a candy cane-inspired red stripe shirt, was also paired with the full skirt. Another 50s-defining skirt trend was the "poodle skirt," which had an oversized appliqué. This trend was worn with a form-fitting back-button cardigan sweater and a wide cinched leather belt. Fabrics like polyester terylene were incorporated to define skirt details like pleating. The full skirt also influenced the "jumper" style. Suspender-like straps extended from the full skirt's waistband. Round collar blouses as well as crisp shirt styles were also worn with the jumper look.

Dungarees and Tapered Pants

The "Greaser" look also trickled into teenage girl fashions. White cotton shirts knotted at the waistline were worn with cropped, form-fitting denim dungarees. In 1957, the elongated shirt, referred to as the "overshirt," was worn with tapered trousers. This trend also influenced knee-length tapered shorts that were trimmed with shoestring ties at the knee. These styles continued to influence other silhouettes, such as the striped knit pullover worn with straight-leg duck trousers and sneakers during 1958.


Antiqued brown calf colour moccasins, referred to as "loafers," were worn by teenage boys and girls in the early 1950s. Tapered toes with slim, medium heels and low-cut sides, referred to as the shell pump, also began in 1950 and continued throughout the decade for teenage girls wearing the trend with "princess" dresses. Coco Chanel introduced the two-tone shoe in 1956, which then influenced the sling-back pump with a sharply pointed toe.

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About the Author

Mercedes Valladares is the founder of M721Organics and has been an independent designer for over 15 years. Her work experience commenced during college with manufacturers based in New York and Hong Kong. Her education includes LIM College, International Fine Arts College and design certification from the Paris Fashion Institute. She produces eco-crafting videos and writes recycling articles online.