Burlesque Clothing of the 50s

Written by sheri lamb
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Burlesque Clothing of the 50s
Burlesque dancers wore many types of clothes. (George Marks/Retrofile/Getty Images)

Burlesque dancers in the 1950s wore clothing styles from previous centuries to seduce their audiences. Clothes were an important component, because the dancers were skilled at luring their audience instead of just showing skin. The burlesque style was famous for its bright clothes, live cabaret and extravagant performances that often featured stripteases.


Breeches were featured in the play "Ixion" at Wood's Broadway Theatre in New York in 1868. These same costumes were worn by 1950s burlesque strippers, who often accompanied the breeches with corsets, which emphasised the hips and butt. The knee-length trousers had either ornamental buckles or extravagant decorations. They were first worn by men in the 17th, 18th and early 19th centuries. In burlesque, the breeches were worn by women, who were dressed entirely like men, but with their legs showing.

Slit Skirt

Burlesque-style of strippers in the 1950s often wore slit skirts that allowed them to reveal their legs. Like the breeches, the style was adapted from previous centuries. In the 1950s, the look was considered feminine and quaint, but in the 19th century, people considered it indecent. Slit skirts today are often worn by businesswomen or as casual wear. The skirts are meant to show the shape of a woman.

Other Clothes

In the 1950s, G-strings, tights, hoses, rhinestones and tassels were features of the burlesque costume. Burlesque dancers also wore hourglass gowns that had a slit up the front to expose the chiffon underlining and parts of their legs. Hourglass dresses are wide at the top and bottom, but thin in the middle. The chiffon underlining fabric was made of either sheer silk or rayon. These were often laced to expose portions of the skin.

Additions and Gimmicks

Gimmicks such as costumed assistants, animals, a bathtub and birds were used to entice the audience. Techniques such as underwater stripping were also used. Not only did people enjoy the new features of the shows that were added late in the decade, but patrons also sought the exotic locations where these shows took place. Fringed and tasselled bras, chiffon flaps and small bikinis were also featured on burlesque dancers in this decade.

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