Outfits for women in the 1950s

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Outfits for women in the 1950s
Outfits for women in the 1950s had to be functional more than fashionable. (George Marks/Retrofile/Getty Images)

The 1950s in the United States marked a flourishing post-war era of economic prosperity and population growth. Women in the 1950s, especially with the baby boom, took on important roles as mothers and homemakers. Many of them also entered the workforce. Women's fashion in the 1950s was more functional than fashionable. Because of their wearable characteristics, outfits such as full skirts and tailored suits have remained popular even until the present day.

Tailored Suits

The number of women in the workforce experienced a steady climb in the 1950s. According to enotes.com, by 1956, 35 per cent of all adult women were members of the labour force, and nearly a quarter of all married women were working. This statistics make women's suits a fashionable trend. Women at work often wore a simple suit with matching jacket and skirt, both tailored for a perfect fit. Women also accessorised their suits with beret hats and cotton, leather and nylon gloves.

Full Skirts

Elegant and iconic, full skirts of the 1950s became one of the most prominent pieces of clothing by their ability to accentuate a woman's curves. This figure flatterer, often made with wool-felt fabric in bright colours, created the illusion of a small waist and voluptuous hips, and looks lovely with just about anything including blouses, cardigans and sweaters. From movie stars such as Grace Kelly and Elizabeth Taylor to ordinary housewives, women from all walks of life were fans of full skirts.

Sleeveless Shirts and Dresses

In the 1950s, sleeveless tops and dresses from the 1920s returned. From blouses to shirts to gowns, women often showed off their shoulders in these fashionable sleeveless clothes. They liked sleeveless apparel so much that they wore them throughout the year, including the winter. In cool weather, women just topped their sleeveless shirts and dresses with a cardigan or sweater. Ditching the sleeves gave women a newfound sense of sex appeal.

Shirtwaist Dresses

The shirtwaist dress mimics certain elements of a man's shirt such as a button-down collar, with a blouse on top and a full skirt on the bottom. The shirt portion of the dress is tailored for a woman's silhouette and the dress portion turns into a beautiful full skirt. Popular patterns were floral, stripes and polka dots, and materials ranged from light wool to cotton. This type of dress gained popularity in the 1950s with its simple look, wearable characteristic and flattering design, gracing many women's fashion magazines and appearing in television shows and movies.

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