If you're trying to recreate a 1950s era picnic, the key is knowing what the players looked like. Luckily, today's retro style makes it easy to walk the walk and dress the dress without emptying your pockets on a whole new wardrobe.
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For a picnic, women in the 1950s could wear a couple different things. The first would be the casual floral dress which featured a small waist and a full, swinging skirt that fell below the knee. While stilettos were all the rage, in order to avoid sinking into the lawn, women would wear saddle shoes, suede leisure shoes or ballet flats for a picnic. All would be accompanied by white ankle socks. A backyard picnic could also warrant trousers for women. High-waisted, form-fitting capri pants or pedal pushers with a form-fitting cropped shirt or a top with billowed sleeves and ballet flats was definitely appropriate casual style.
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Scarves was the word in the 1950s. A scarf could be used as a ponytail decoration, a hair covering, as a belt or a picnic basket accent. To protect her hair from the elements, this would often be seen on a woman's head at a picnic. Wide-brimmed hats also went well with picnic dresses and protected women from the sun. Pointed bra cups and girdles were the key undergarments for women. These accentuated the womanly figure that the style favoured. Even for a picnic, a woman may well have worn both these items, especially if she was wearing a dress.
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Casual picnic wear for men included plaid button-up shirts left untucked with khaki trousers or Hawaiian-inspired shirts. John Wayne was a popular actor of the day, so cowboy-inspired shirts were also en vogue and casual. Classic sweaters or sweater vests with deep V-shaped necklines were typical leisure style, especially if they had a few buttons down near the waist, worn with a collared shirts. All these picnic outfits would be accompanied by loafers, preferably with pennies in them.
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Young girls would usually wear short dresses, often with frills, no matter the occasion. Preteen girls might wear tailored coveralls or long shorts with a button-up shirt and saddle shoes. For teens, dungarees (rolled-up jeans) with a button-up shirt and loafers with ankle socks were ideal picnic attire. A male child at a picnic would often have shorts with connected suspenders and a button-up short sleeve shirt. For a teenager, a varsity letterman sweater and blue jeans were great for playing some backyard sports at a picnic. Teens of both genders wore sneakers as a sign of rebellion in the 1950s. Girls wore white canvas-topped Keds and boys enjoyed Converse high-tops. These were also convenient for any outdoor activities, such as picnics.