Key Fashion Trends from the 1950s
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Key Fashion Trends from the 1950s

This article looks at six iconic fashion trends from the 1950s.

The 1950s is a well-known era for its ladylike fashion, but there are also a few trends that emerged during this decade that may surprise you. Read on for a guide to six iconic fashion trends to emerge during the 1950s.

Six iconic fashion trends from the 1950s:

1. The Chanel Suit

The Chanel suit was first designed earlier during the 1900s, but it is often the re-introduced style of 1954 that comes to mind when conjuring up this iconic style. The 1954 style was softened to create a more feminine look. It was made from stretch wool and the jacket was part cardigan part jacket.  During the 1950s it was predominantly worn with a string of pearls and a pair of high heel pumps.

2. The Fit and Flare dress

At the end of the 1940s Christina Dior introduced a look known as “The new look”. This was a silhouette characterized by a fitted waist and a very full skirt. Some of his dresses used more than 15 yards of fabric for the skirt alone. The idea behind such a full skirt was to highlight the smallness of the waist in contrast. This trend strongly shaped the dress silhouette for the 1950s. Dresses were mostly of a fit and flare style. They typically hit below the knee in length and created a very ladylike appearance.

3. The “sweater girl” look

Well known Hollywood starlets like Lana Turner, Marylin Monroe, and Jane Russell made the “sweater girl” look popular during the 1940s and 1950s. This look consisted of a form fitting sweater partnered with a pointed bra that uplifted and defined the breasts. The sweaters were often made with cashmere and angora yarns.

4. The Chanel Quilted handbag

The 1950s was a good decade for Chanel in many ways. She also introduced the ever popular Chanel 2.55 quilted handbag. This handbag design featured a chain strap and quilted leather body. It fastened with a flap over the body of the bag and a mademoiselle lock.

5. Jeans

Jeans first began to make an appearance during the 1950s. At first they were restricted to blue collar workers, but several icons were sighted in them and they therefore became the height of style for the youth culture. Elvis Presley performed his famous gyrations in jeans during the 1950s and James dean wore them in the movie Rebel Without a Cause. The older generation tended to frown upon them and this led to them being banned in some places like restaurants and schools. However, this only served to make them more desirable to a rebellious youth.

6. The shirt dress

The classic shirt dress first became fashionable during the 1950s. It featured a collar, cuffed sleeves and a button front just as a man’s shirt, but they were worn belted at the waist for definition. They also frequently featured full skirts and were sometimes worn with petticoats underneath.  When Brigitte Bardot wore a shirt dress in the 1956 movie And God Created Women many women raced to copy the look.


Twentieth Century Fashion, By Linda Watson, Carlton Books, 2003, London.

Style icons-The Australian women’s weekly, December 1999.

Australian Stitches Sewing secrets no. 2, ed Carol Brett, Express publications 1999. The History of pants p. 73.

The classic trenc coat Australia Harpers Bazzar, April 2009, pg. 74.

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Comments (6)

Nice Information. :)

Thought jeans were popular earlier than that. Learn something every day...

Thanks Steven.

Hi Bill, yes they were around earlier, for example gold miners wore them, but they weren't a mainstream fashion item until the 50s and 60s. It is interesting that something so integral to our wardrobes today is really quite young historically speaking.

Ranked #1 in Fashion Trends

Very illuminating, thanks.

Thanks Michael!