One unexpected facial accessory of 50s was spectacles. Frequently these were inlaid with diamante or scattered glitter dust. The exaggerated wings at the outer corners flared in the style of butterfly wings.
Think of the Australian entertainer Dame Edna Everage and you have the essence of the spectacles, although somewhat exaggerated. Here is a realistic example of 1950s spectacles and shown right.
To go with along with their conservative clothes, men wore conservative shoes. No surprise there. Black and white converse tennis shoes, two toned suede or white bucks.
Don’t forget the standard oxfords. The Teddy Boys wore suede shoes with thick soles called “brothel creepers,” worn with vivid Day-Glo colored socks. How shocking.
Gloves were the order of the day. They were worn everywhere in the 1950s and completed a woman’s grooming. Without gloves she was not properly accessorised. Clean gloves were also the hallmark of a lady and white or cream were the most favoured gloves.
Gloves worn in so many colours were usually made of cotton as this was more affordable than leather gloves or the newer nylon and they could be washed very easily. Even so many women owned a special pair of leather gloves. You can see from the picture right, why they were sometimes referred to as 1950s Gauntlet Gloves.
Dents and Pittards were popular glove names, but women could also make their own gloves using a McCall’s pattern such as this vintage pattern above from anothertimevintageapparel.
The formality of wearing gloves even continued into the sixties with interesting cut out peephole variations in the popular stretch nylon and designed almost like a golfing glove. By the 1970s gloves were more used functionally for keeping the hands warm than for any other reason.
Above is a picture of the spiked umbrella so popular in the 50s and 60s.
The long slim umbrella was available in many bright colours and price 28 shillings and sixpence.
Almost as if to match the spindly heel, umbrellas were elongated with 6 inch steel spikes and many a woman considered a furled umbrella as protection from attack when walking home late at night. Taxis were not only a rarity, but also a luxury in the fifties.
By the mid 1950s pointed toe shoes called winkle pickers with stiletto heels up to 5 inches were a common sight. There is no doubt that the trademark of the fifties was the stiletto heeled shoe, first seen in 1952 at a Dior fashion show.
Many a floor was ruined by stilettos from shoes and umbrellas. The main problem was caused by the stilettos being metal tipped as still somewhat economy conscious after the war British wearers preferred the longer life of steel than rubber tips, despite the click clacking irritating noise they made.
So stilettos became banned in many buildings and remain banned in National Trust properties and stately homes. So take your spare flat shoes if visiting such places, as the stiletto sandals and shoes of 2005 often bear a very similar look to 50’s footwear.
Early 1950’s shoes were often very high, but with rounded or peep toes and low cut front uppers and sometimes had sturdy Cuban heels. Strapped sandals with finer heels were popular as were heavier thicker heels for lower shoes, but by the mid fifties kitten heels and metal tipped steel stiletto heels replaced styles that owed more to designs that had been brought out to compliment the New look of 1947.