The 1950s was an age of innocence and this was reflected in children's fashions. In complete contrast to the informal dress of today's children, the emphasis was on looking neat and clean at all times, most often in buttoned-up formal attire. Style choices were limited and there was not a lot of scope for individuality, but the post-war era brought a new affluence that meant many children's closets expanded to contain several outfits.
Girls dressed in knee-length cotton dresses or blouses and skirts, with a cardigan or sweater on top, often home-knitted. Plaid or gingham fabrics were popular, as were sailor-style dresses. Long white socks and t-strap or bar buckle shoes were standard and fresh ribbons were tied in neatly brushed hair each day. White gloves were worn for formal occasions, such as church.
Younger boys were dressed in short trousers and button-up shirts, while older boys were keen to look more mature by moving to long trousers. Sports jackets and slacks were worn for formal occasions with neat shirts and thin ties underneath. Hair was cut short and combed neatly. Jeans and sneakers were useful when it was time to go out and play.
Some boys were allowed to wear jeans to elementary school, but high school boys wore slacks and button-up shirts with sweaters or cardigans. Girls mostly wore smart dresses, which had to be knee-length, although some schools allowed them to wear slacks outside at recess in cold weather.
1950s teens looked to screen idols like James Dean and Marilyn Monroe for fashion inspiration. Jeans and leather jackets were worn by boys keen to cultivate a more rebellious look as an alternative to the popular Ivy League preppy look of their peers. Teenage girls wore tight-fitting, scoop-necked tops and full circular skirts supported by layers of net petticoats, perfect for displaying their figures as they danced to the new sounds of Rock 'n' Roll.
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