The diner is as much a part of Americana as apple pie and baseball. Though initially established in the late nineteenth century, the most vivid diner imagery dates back to the 1950s when these eating establishments transitioned from roadside stopovers to teenage hot-spots. An entire culture was created around the diner, and today diner clothes often best mark 1950s nostalgia.
Diners became the centre of many people's social world in the 1950s, and women especially dressed to impress. While bobby socks, saddle shoes, scoop neck blouses and cardigans were the order of the day, a poodle skirt was the most coveted piece of 1950s clothing. This garment was one of the first mass produced items of the decade and was known for its racy cut just above the knees and its scandalous side swing.
Pop culture icons and Hollywood film stars dictated men's diner fashion. Marlon Brando, James Dean and Elvis Presley inspired youth to don leather jackets, white T-shirts with cuffed sleeves, denim jeans and black Converse high-tops or boots. This type of dress was associated with the greaser culture of the era; a movement that later influenced punk fashion in the 1970s.
Accessories were integral parts of 1950s diner fashion. Men didn't leave home without a comb to slick back their greased hair and often kept their cash in a convenient chain wallet. Women would wear winged spectacles inlaid with glitter dust or rhinestones, and would spruce up their outfit with an ornament of some type pinned to their blouse.
Men and women of the 1950s would rarely frequent a diner without spending some heartfelt time on their hairstyle. Pin-curling and rolling were female favourites, otherwise, hair would be tied back in a ponytail with a chiffon scarf or another accessory. Men wore what was known as a ducktail, a style where the hair is combined back toward the middle of the head and turned in to make a centre part; they kept the complicated look in place with lots of grease.