Archive for August, 2009

1950’s Brides

Thursday, August 13th, 2009

The 1950s will be a decade forever linked to the advent of television, the American baby boom and the culture of the middle class suburb. This affected women in a profound way. The end of World War II created a nesting period that is unparalleled in the 20th century and weddings were the conduit. American society pushed ahead with an era of new conservatism and some say that if you weren’t married by the age of 27 years, well, good luck to you “old maid.”

Encouraged by the G.I. Bill, many newlyweds had moved out of the city and into affordable suburban housing. Women who had worked during the War saw their jobs eliminated once the men returned. 1946 magazine advertisements showed a model woman as a perky housewife who could manage a happy husband and home without complaint. Women were bombarded with images and articles of domesticity. One magazine even went so far as to suggest vacuuming while wearing spike heels and pearls, “just in case your Husband comes home.” Soon the culture of the middle class suburb exploded into a preferred lifestyle, enabling the baby boom and nearly eliminating women’s rights.

With the success of Dior’s “new look,” Paris couturiers resumed operation and once again became the center for international fashion trends. Now that the usage of fabric had no constraints, The full, full and fuller skirt of the “new look” continued to gain popularity. Rounded and soft shoulders, an almost pinched waist, a pointed bosom and spike heels were the hallmarks of 50’s Bridal wear. The hourglass effect was further emphasized with crinolines and hoop skirts. It was at this time that the metal zipper moved to the wearer’s back, making the zip up a two person chore.

Some say that after the success of the 1950 film, “Father of the Bride,” the costuming of Helen Rose epitomized the bridal look that American women craved, exemplified to perfection by the film’s star, Elizabeth Taylor. The Wedding gown she wore on screen became the most heavily copied gown of the post war era during the early 1950s. It seemed to borrow from all that was fashionable at the time, from a nipped waist with redingote style cutaway to a portrait yoke and illusion overlay of delicate lace with Peter Pan collar. The gown was chaste and virginal and yet overly consumed with detail; perhaps exactly what Helen Rose intended for the young Bride’s character.

Elizabeth collaborated with another fashion icon in her next film, 1951’s “A Place in the Sun.” The costuming of Edith Head managed to dress the gorgeous, sophisticated Angela Vickers to strapless, nipped waist perfection.

A revival of Elizabethan style of another kind permeated the fashion scene by 1953. The coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in June fascinated the American public. Wired, upstanding gothic style collars, as seen in the photo at left, were extremely popular as regal weddings enjoyed a fad. American designers combined the strapless gown from Edith Head’s iconic Angela and added a removable lace bolero that was made from thin and delicate Chantilly. Wedding gowns were still traditionally sleeved, and it was proper to cover the arms for Church ceremonies. The two-piece lace bolero jacket could be removed after the ceremony to show off a strapless bustline for the reception, if needed.


Lace, lace and then more lace was the cry of most American Brides in the 1950s.

We welcomed the appearance of lace, as it reflected an appreciation of moneyed European tradition. It also reflected an immense style change from the previous WWII decade, when lace manufacturing was halted during Hitler’s aggression. In the postwar era, French and Belgian lace made an appearance as the fabric of choice unlike any other wedding gown in history. As the postwar reconstruction of French towns known for their textile mills began to thrive, American Brides enthusiastically appreciated lace and its feminine appeal and demanded more more and more… Immense ball gowns of imported European lace, were constructed with 24 feet of Chantilly.


Designers further manipulated lace bodices by sculpting and plating net pleats at the neckline, cutting appliqué, scissoring and knifing pleats on the skirt and draping dramatic lace panels over net. Emphasis was on layered materials which added style and fullness without being too cumbersome or uncomfortable. Maurer Originals was a bridal wear company well known for their Chantilly lace, satin and net fifties gowns of this style. Designer Vene (as shown at upper left) made the most beautiful of these 1950s nipped waist lace gowns.

Skull cap headpieces became the standard for dressy day and into evening. Bridal wear designers used the skull cap in velvet and satin with a circle veil. The veil was gathered at its center, cut into a circle and folded at the cap. Often referred to as the “Madonna” veil because it resembled a Sunday service mantilla, it ranged in length from 18″ to 27,” coming to or just passing the shoulders. Soon designers such as Christian Dior upped the ante with sophisticated hand beaded and sequined Belgium caps as well as a couture line of satin cocktail hats with fine silk maline and Russian net.

The finishing touch that these unique pieces of millinery provided to an outfit created a huge demand for the pieces. The ready to wear suppliers fulfilled this need with the introduction of the more affordable Hong Kong beadwork, which surfaced on bags, hats, sweater twin sets and sheath gowns.

With the introduction of the jet age in 1958, Pan American Airlines opened the doors to the Orient and soon American women knew that Hong Kong was the place to shop. Japan also became known as a prolific creator of sequined and beaded pieces, made especially for La Regale. Although the country was no longer Occupied by the Allies after the war, the labels made note that the pieces were “made in Japan of American sequins.”

Gloves called “shorties” were worn with the tea length gowns, while opera length gloves held their place as usual for more formal events.
The strapless gown with sweetheart bodice remained the favored look for evening wear for most of the fifties. It was acceptable in either full skirt or figure hugging sheath. Wedding designers, still conservative at heart, adapted this strapless silhouette by covering the bride’s shoulders modestly with an opaque bodice or removable sheer lace jacket, so that the shoulders were covered appropriately for a solemn church ceremony. The gown above features the virginal yet popular 50’s look attributed to Mainbocher, of peter pan collar. He intended the dress to have the appearance of risqué sophistication. A row of buttons trimmed the bodice front yet the gown closure was made possible by a zipper in the back. Fabrics were floaty and ethereal with a preference for tissue silk organza.

In the late fifties, hemlines dropped and the full skirted wedding gown became heavy and more structured, with less movement. The undeniable influence of Grace Kelly’s style was a major factor in the changing taste for expensive full-bodied opaque fabrics. Designers appeased this wish by creating upscale ready to wear gowns in fabrics such as heavy silk taffeta, silk satin and rich duchesse satin all lined with a stiff paper like pellon.

Right you can order discount wedding dresses via some online stores directly from China to custom make your own 1950s-brides wedding dresses styles.

50’s Hairstyles: A Victory for AquaNet

Thursday, August 13th, 2009

From June Cleaver to Sophia Loren, the female figures of the 1950’s exuded charm and elegance.
image courtesy of USA Today. Young girls fumigated their bathrooms for decades with the only firm hold hairspray.

Women Hairstyles

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

The wars had almost ended, but the world was still unsafe. In 1950 the Korean War began, Truman ordered the construction of the hydrogen bomb, McCarthy began his Communist witchhunting and the first credit card was introduced. The next year the U.S. signed a peace treaty with Japan, ending World War II, and on the home front color TV was introduced to the public. In 1952 life became safer as a Polio vaccine was created and car seat belts were introduced, though not mandatory. The next year saw the discovery of DNA and Sir Edmund Hillary reached the top of Mount Everest.

In 1954, the first atomic submarine was introduced and the first report came out to say that cigarettes can cause cancer. The next year Disneyland opened and the McDonald’s franchise had its start. 1956 was a year of making life easier for everyone as velcro was introduced and the T.V. remote control was invented, letting us change the channels or turn up the volume as Elvis upset everyone by shaking suggestively on the Ed Sullivan show and Grace Kelly married a prince and became a princess. The next year the first satellite, Sputnik was the first shot fired in the greatest show outside earth, as the the space race commenced. In 1958 we had Hula Hoops and Lego bricks to keep the children fascinated, and NASA was founded. The last year of the decade saw Castro become the Western Hemisphere’s first Communist dictator, while The Sound of Music opened on Broadway. In women’s fashion women wore a full knee-length skirt and there was a brief fling with the sack dress, which was much as it sounds, and expertly parodied on the “I Love Lucy” show, the television hit of the decade. The bobbysoxers flourished for a brief time, characterized by a large collared blouse, poodle skirt, scarf-bound ponytail and saddle shoes. For the boys it was the James Dean and Marlon Brando look of rebels without causes and motorcycle gang members. In the more out of the way places, the trendy coffee shops, held morose Beatniks, all dressed in black, with matching berets, with an audible spritzing of “man” and “like” in every sentence. Hair was generally soft and curly, often short and imaginative. The oddball woman’s cut of the decade was the poodle cut, most notably used by Lucille Ball, and for men it was the ducktail, with the hair combed back and a duck’s butt made out of a center part. Men also had the crewcut and the flattop, both of which were inspired by the military and were eradicated by the British invasion of the sixties.

Men’s …

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009


With women’s suits becoming more flamboyant than ever during the 1950’s and beyond, the male bathing costume was not to be outdone, resulting an explosion of color patterns and fancy detailing. “Cabana sets” consisting of matching boxer trunks and shirts with loud prints such as zebra stripes and pony prints enjoyed much popularity during this time.

Boxer trunks were here to stay — becoming a sort of “screen” to project the men’s hobbies and interests. While women’s swim wear underwent almost constant transformation in style, men’s swim wear was confined, for the most part, to the basic boxer and brief.

1950s: The explosion of the middle class in 50s created a huge demand for leisurwear. Terry-lined cabana sets in popular Hawaiin prints were perfect for backyard barbecues and pool parties.

Men’s Swimwear

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009


As the 1940s turned into the 1950s, the top was gone and bare chests were accepted in public.


1950s Bathing Hair Caps

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

Hair was so important to the fifties look that no woman wanted it to get wet when swimming, so lavish bathing caps covered in flowers, petals and rubber spikes became essential beach accessories.

This bathing suit fashion also moved onto fashionable occasion hats as decorative clusters of flowers that smothered the hats creating a cloche festooned totally with flowers.

Apron Style Swim Suits and Play Suit of the 1950s

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

Each one of the late 1950’s swimsuits above had detachable straps and almost very woman appears to be wearing what we would view as the equivalent of a beach corset! This is particularly noticeable in the mustard version which seems to almost be a coloured corselette.

A wide range of fabrics including lined cotton, stretch Lastex and elastic ruched waffle nylon were popular for 1950s swimwear. You can see a floral version of a waffle elasticated swimsuit on the far left. The legs on the floral and red swim costumes are also the ‘high cut’ leg of the day. Today such legs cuts would be described on the label as low cut as suits have become cut much higher up the leg in an effort to make the leg seem longer and of course exposing more body at the same time.

Below is an example of a ruched swimsuit similar to the floral one above. Such swimsuits were even more popular among children.

In the fifties the bikini was still thought of as risqué and best suited to film stars and strippers, but a tame version of the fashion a two piece playsuit was often seen as were skirted 1950s swimsuits.

Two piece suits had sturdy patterned fabric bras with secure wide straps which were set atop shorts with modesty skirts were popular. They were especially favoured by women who wanted to hide their lumpy thighs or hide varicose veins. These were usually made in satin cotton and printed with exotic vivid prints.

Corset Style 1950s Swimsuit

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

In the 1940s corset manufacturers saw a gap in the undergarments market. Corsetry was losing ground, but the new more revealing swimsuits really needed experts to design garments that hid faults in a woman’s shape. Manufacturers achieved this by adding stretch tummy control panels to hold in the stomach. Most also used bra cups and boning to give bust support.
Fashion swimming costumes could then be worn either strapless or with small straps that buttoned onto the inside or worn halter style as in this example. Even then women were not keen on lighter body marks that may have made a strapless dance dress look less attractive.

Women still continued to wear all in one swimwear in the 1950s, rarely wearing a daring two piece bikini.

Zips were still used in the centre back of swimsuits retaining the corset like appearance until the early 1960s. Sometimes zips were put in the side seam. The swim suits of the 50s and early 60s were cut straight across the top of the leg in the form of a modesty apron that hid the separate matching fabric crutch. Subtle changes occurred in a few years and the modesty apron style soon looked old fashioned.

Mens PJs

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

Mens two piece pajamas and nightshirt. Top has convertible collar, pocket on left front and longsleeves. Bands are top stitched to pocket and lower gee of sleeves. Options give V neckline and contrast piping on the neck, pocket, and short sleeves. Nights shirt has V neck, longsleeves, left front pocket and bands topstitched to neck, pockets, and sleeves.

1950’s Nightgowns

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

Womens muu muu nightgown in two lengths and panties. Muu muu and nightgowns are gathered into a shaped yoke. V.1 is ankle length and has a contrast yoke and full gathered sleeves with self ruffles. V.2 knee length nightgown has self fabric yoke trimmed with contrast bias, ribbon sash. V.3 shortie has matching panties. Contrast bias and bows trim self fabric yoke and lower edge. Panties have elastic casing at waistline and leg edges.
Misses nightgown in two lengths and bed-jacket. The long gown style 1 is ruffled at the yoke and on the long sleeves Contrast binding trims the edges. The short puffed sleeves on short gown 2 tie with a ribbon drawstring. Lace edging and insertions decorate yoke and sleeve. The Bed jacket Style 3 features a contrast yoke, three quarter sleeve and patch pocket.
Womens nightgown or Shortie, hospital gown. V.A yoked top, full-length, long-sleeved gown. V.B Contrast yoke, eyelet edged collar, puffed sleeves. V.C Tie-in-back short hospital gown. V.D Long sleeved hospital gown, no trim. V.E V-neck hospital gown, puffed sleeves.
Womens nightgown and robe set, with the gown being gathered to a scalloped yoke and optional trim. The robe has either three quarter or short sleeves, has a scalloped edge or lace collar, and buttons down the front, with a ribbon bow.


  • Calendar

    August 2009
    M T W T F S S
    « Jul    
  • Spread The Word

    Delicious Digg Stumbleupon Technorati Furl Reddit
  • wed5

    1950’s Brides

    The 1950s will be a decade forever linked to the advent of television, the American baby boom and the culture of the middle class suburb. This affected women in... 

    1950s Evening Wear4

    1950s Evening Wear

    Not all women could afford to wear couture designer clothes in the fifties and the majority of women wore mass produced goods. Yet fresh ideas and fashion concepts... 

  • trouserpattern3

    1950’s Womens Trousers Pattern

    Womens sewing pattern for misses spots outfit – shirt-jacket and long or short pants (envelope has light toning and some tears at opening and split at top... 



    Boys mostly wore long trousers in the 1850s, but we begin to see boys from affluent families wearing variously styled suits with bloomer knickers. These bloomer...