Wearing a modern-day outfit to a 1950s-themed cocktail party is akin to going to a costume party without a costume. The hostess went to the trouble of decorating the party space in the style of the decade, serving the appropriate finger foods and making 1950s-inspired drinks. You owe it to her to get into the spirit of the event and wear a 50s-style outfit. Get inspiration from Hollywood icons of the time and modern-day television shows that depict the era.
During the 1950s, Hollywood icons wore dresses that emphasised their feminine curves. The dresses featured a tight bodice and a flared skirt. The skirts typically reached the knee, though a slightly above-the-knee skirt is also appropriate. For the red carpet and other important events, actresses wore dresses that nearly touched the floor. Rounded necklines, V-necks and square necks were all common during this era. You also have several sleeve choices. Dresses typically had cap sleeves or sleeves that stopped a few inches past the shoulders. Strapless dresses were more common for proms and other formal events. It's also appropriate to wear dresses with spaghetti straps, as those made a showing during the 1950s.
Men dressing for a 1950s cocktail party can focus primarily on the classic suit look. The television show "Mad Men" takes place during the 1960s, but many of the same suits were common during the previous era. A three-piece suit, complete with a vest, is one option. A dark suit with a thin tie is another suitable choice. Tweed jackets and tailored trousers were also common during the 1950s. Keep a folded handkerchief in one pocket and carry a metal cigarette lighter to flash now and again, as smoking was quite common then. Once you have a classic martini or 50s-style drink in hand, you'll look like you stepped right out of the era.
The Little Black Dress
The little black dress--a classic look for women--is appropriate as a 50s cocktail party outfit. The dress should hug your body tightly and feature a modest neckline. A gathered jersey dress with a V-neck is a classic look, as is a dress made from taffeta or tulle. Look for dresses that have embellishments, such as a crinoline underneath or embroidery along the neckline. Complete you outfit by pulling your hair back in a chignon or up-do and coating your lips in a shiny red shade of lipstick.
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