The 1950s saw the introduction of Christian Dior’s “New Look,” a fun and flirty style that placed an emphasis on femininity and youthfulness.
The full A-line skirts and nipped waists, cropped cardigans and classic patterns of Dior’s style show a much simpler time in fashion history with looks that are still flattering for women of every shape and size today.
Thankfully, pulling together the perfect 50s-style outfit is much easier than you’d imagine. In fact, it really only requires 10 things you absolutely need — all of which are easily found online or at the right stores. All it takes is an open imagination, a bit of store savviness and this handy list to create a stunning vintage-look fit for a swing dance or summer garden party.
A white dress with black polka dots — full-skirted and halter-topped with a sweetheart neckline — is the quintessential 50s dress. It oozes the girlish charm of the 1950s woman and is worth every cent.
According to Lily Garnett, assistant costume designer at Rollins College’s Theatre Department, “No self-respecting 50s girl would be caught dead without a comfy cardigan to throw on when the sun goes down and the temperatures go with it.” A deep red cardigan adds an extra splash of color to the black-and-white dress in the classiest and most elegant way.
Heels as we know them today were only just beginning to come into style in the 50s, mainly because the rationing of World War II had ended and there were more materials for higher heels. A pair of peep-toe heels bring elegance to the outfit and help round off the main body of the 50s outfit.
Jewelery was an important part of the 1950s style, but it was never outrageous. A simple necklace, like a vintage string of red glass beads, is the perfect thing to play up the old-school class of the 50s look in a simple and easy way.
Women in the 1950s were all about costume earrings — large, brilliantly-colored earrings that we know today as statement earrings. “A pair of quarter-sized scarlet teardrop earrings makes a smart addition to your 50s-style look,” Garnett says.
The classic picture of a 1950s girl almost always includes a cute cloth headband or bandeau head wrap. A white headscarf is adorable and so totally 50s. Use it to push back your hair for a more practical 50s look, or bump up your ponytail in true rockabilly style.
For women in the 1950s, the most important aspect of day-to-day makeup was the foundation. “It was considered a sin to have poorly-applied face makeup, let alone wear a powder that didn’t match your skin tone,” Garnett says.
The Eye shadow
In terms of 50s eye shadow, less is definitely more. The smoky eye didn’t exist, nor did extremely bright colors. As such, if you really want to pull off the 50s look, a subtle but shimmery neutral palette is the ultimate choice.
Unlike with the eye shadow, eyeliner in the 1950s was a little more dramatic, according to Garnett. Think pin-up girls and swing dancing for this one. However, you don’t necessarily need to break the bank. Most grocery stores or drug stores sell a whole array of different eyeliners for even the pickiest customer.
Arguably the single most important thing for making the 1950s-style outfit is bright red lipstick — an absolute must. No 50s-esque outfit is complete without the lipstick — only because it’s fun and fierce.
Now that you know exactly what you need to create your vintage look, go and impress all your friends — or maybe that special someone — with your flirty, flouncy “new” style. Don’t forget to channel your inner Marilyn Monroe for an extra bit of confidence.