1950s style clothes for women

Written by suzanne hodgson
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1950s style clothes for women
A woman modelling the fashion trends of the '50s. (George Marks/Retrofile/Getty Images)

Tailored was all the rage in the 1950s. Throughout the decade, women's fashion transformed from puffy "poodle" skirts to long, lean "pencil" skirts, but the well-groomed look was a staple of the decade. Women didn't get up in the morning without putting on their make-up and layers of body-shaping underclothing. The 1950s was a decade of high class and extraordinary clothing.


Dresses, the most popular garment in a woman's closet, often had a "Peter Pan" collar, which was a wide collar, often done in lace. Sleeveless tops were also a big trend, which brought back some of the 1920s flapper-looking profiles into the 1950s wear. Sleeveless dresses were worn throughout all four seasons, so cardigans, or front button-down sweaters, were worn often in the chillier evenings or winter months.

Types of Skirts

Women generally wore one of two types of skirts, either a pencil skirt or a swing skirt. Pencil skirts were long straight skirts, cut fit to the body with a hem below the knee. Pencil skirts would be worn to shop or lunch, but only by women, not young girls. The pencil skirt was considered provocative and helped give woman the popular figure-eight look. Swing skirts were the grown-up version of the poodle skirt. Swing skirts were not as big as a poodle skirt but were still worn with tulle underneath.


Under almost all outfits, women wore very structured undergarments. The most common kind of undergarments consisted of a cone-shaped bra and a suspender belt to hold up stockings. Women also wore corselettes, or full-bodied undergarments that looked like a one-piece swimsuit of today. The corselettes kept every bulge in place.


One of the most widely used fabric during the 1950s was velveteen, a cotton-velvet mix. This velvet fabric was used on everything from evening dresses and little black jackets to high-heeled shoes and even belts. The fabric was a departure from the previous years when women were forced to ration fabrics because of World War II. Patent leather was also used in many accessories including bags, belts and shoes.

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