The 1950s was an important decade for the United States: the economy was once again prosperous after the war as men returned to work, and this new, brighter outlook was often reflected in the clothing of adults and children alike. Not only did men and women enjoy new trends of synthetic fabrics, bright colours and styles, but kids got involved in fashion, too, often taking their bearings from movie icons and popular family TV shows such as "Leave it to Beaver." With more discretionary income available, families were able to fill kids' closets with new clothes.
Girls' Play Clothes
Little girls dressed in cotton skirts and blouses as well as dresses for playtime, whether indoors or out. Pinafores, worn over dresses for outdoor play, kept dresses dirt-free. This style caught on and new pinafore dresses made the fashion scene, often worn with a cardigan sweater to stay warm in chilly weather. Saddle shoes and plain oxfords were worn for outdoor play. Jeans -- known as dungarees during the '50s -- became part of older girls' wardrobes for home wear and very casual occasions. Trousers in general were not acceptable for girls going out during the 1950s.
Girls' School and Dress Outfits
Moms of the '50s, much like moms of today, loved to dress their little girls up for Church and other social activities. Starched petticoats and white gloves were often part of the "going out" attire. The sailor look was also popular. Puffy sleeves and dresses with ties in the back were worn by young girls, and jumpers helped make wardrobes flexible by being able to be worn with a variety of blouses and sweaters. Girls wore Mary-Jane strapped shoes for dress and saddle shoes for school.
Boys' Playtime Attire
Boys wore jeans and T-shirts for playtime starting at a young age. Cowboy outfits were popular, often involving plaid shirts, cowboy hats and holsters. Little boys wore shorts with elastic bands during hot summer months. Sneakers were common footwear for playing in the neighbourhood. The Davy Crockett influence was also popular, bringing the coonskin cap to boys of all ages. This was often made of actual raccoon skin. Long trousers were popular year-round, except usually at summer camp.
Formal Wear for Boys
Moms dressed little boys in short trousers for going out, but long trousers were usually the choice of older boys. Boys wore short or long sleeve button-down shirts tucked into belted trousers. Jackets and clip-on ties were part of the dress outfit, as well, though cardigan sweaters sometimes replaced jackets. Oxford shoes and penny loafers were popular footwear. Jeans never made their way to parties, church or going out until a later decade.
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