‘Formal Clothing’ Category

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.

1950s Evening Wear

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

1950s Evening Wear41950s Evening Wear31950s Evening Wear21950s 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 trickled down from the French salons to Madame dress shops and department stores throughout the world.

Miss and Mrs. Average were soon seen in looks that captured the essential style set by Paris. These are the clothes most vintage pickers find today. They were produced fairly rapidly by improved production methods in a post war economy boom for a society desperate for “new” goods of every description.

Clothes worn in the day were very feminine and designed to remind women they were women. Women also still craved luxury in dress after years of deprivation during the Utility period. Evening wear produced in the 50s even for the masses was often ultra glamorous. Aspects of 50’s vintage clothing to collect are clothes with tiny waists, shown often as glamorous, feminine, luxurious, low necked evening dresses or boned strapless dresses in taffetas, tulle, lace, nets, chiffon and satin or even nylon.

A wide range of net and nylon hoop crinoline style petticoats were produced to support the full bouffant skirts. Vintage under slips of the era are very collectable. You may even find a well designed vintage strapless bra of the era or wasp waist corset, but stiffened boned areas were often built into bodices and that forced a specific shape when on the wearer. Net and lace were both used extensively to make many mid priced dresses.

Shorter Cocktail Dresses

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

Shorter Cocktail Dresses2Shorter Cocktail Dresses
Shorter cocktail dresses with higher necklines were never worn before 6pm and they were often of shot silk, brocade, lace net, grosgrain, chiffon, tulle, lustrous satin and even floral or abstract prints. The LBD or little black dress as we know it today evolved from this period.

The trapeze dress was a high busted swinging dress, whilst the waistless chemise look of 1958 was a forerunner of sixties styles and really began to catch on with a simplicity of shape welcome after the rigor of belts.

Prom dress

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009


A true 1950s ballerina length vintage bouffant style party formal with extra details. Net tulle and lace dress was probably a prom dress and it is perfect for dancing. The skirt is frothy layers of stiffened net and lace and is extremely full. Sweet pink paper flowers accent the bust. This item also includes a matching net stole not shown.

Evening dresses

Monday, July 13th, 2009

evening dresses

evening dress 2

evening dress 3

Bride dresses

Monday, July 13th, 2009

Dresses for bride from 1950s, 1960s, 1970s

1950 and Women’s fashion

Monday, July 13th, 2009

1950’s fashion documentary

Teenage fashion of the 50’s

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

From the early to late 1950s traditional, formal dress was generally the fashion. In the late 50’s, starting from 1957, the fashion restrains were more weak and teenagers promoted informal dress.

Christian Dior

The most influential fashion designer of the 1950s dominated fashion after World war II, by introducing the first great postwar collection, called the “New Look” by Life magazine’ s journalists.

Dior assumed that people wanted something new, revolutionary after the war, so he designed luxury clothing.

Jackets were pinched in at the waist, dresses had darts, shoulders become rounded and natural from longer squared, skirts were made so that woman retain her natual curves.

Like accessories women wore hats, gloves, purses, and shoes.


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  • 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...