50’s Fashion for Women & Men – Style Guide, Icons & Outfits

50's fashion for women & men - faverie

Such an inspiring period of fashion, the 1950s brought exciting trends like tailored dresses with full skirts, large overcoats with fur trim, polka dot prints, poodle skirts, saddle shoes, padded suit coats, double-breasted suits, and much more. We still see many nods to 50’s fashion today.

In this article, we’re going to take a close look at fashion in the 1950s. We’ll talk about the history of fashion during this decade, what women were wearing, what men wore, outfit ideas as well as different 50s fashion icons. When you’re done reading, you’ll feel like you’re an expert.

Introduction to fashion in the 50’s

A few years after World War II ended, the fashion world saw some notable changes. This was a transition period when there were many different ideas and developments. Straight skirts, simple jackets, and vertical lines were everywhere in the 1950s.

Dior even had a fashion line focused on vertical design, incorporating straight lines into pleats, tucking, details, and very narrow outlines. The sheath dress was also very popular for formal affairs, and large items were added for flare, such as bows, sashes, and scarves.

What was fashion like in the 1950s?

Fashion aesthetics in the 1950s was rather different when you compare the first part of the decade to the second part. It wasn’t until the 60s that fashion really became adventurous, but some changes that influenced those developments took place earlier. A lot of what we saw in the 50s had to do with fashion trends from the 1920s, believe it or not.

Family living room reading kids playing

The women’s waistline changed pretty dramatically in the 50s. Dior designed very fitted waistlines, while some women preferred the ‘sack dress’ design. There was freedom to choose what you wanted your look to be like, which was very different from previous decades. 

There were about eight to ten years after World War II ended when the transition was taking place. The wandering waistline eventually became a much loosely fitted option by the end of the 50s.

Coats were made from chiffon, organdie, and lace to create both heavy and light items that could be used throughout the year. Fashion wasn’t always about practicality in the 50s but rather about making a bold fashion statement. 

Women sometimes wore very thin lace or satin overcoats on chilly evenings. They were designed to flow nicely over billowing evening dresses. Pockets were added low down on coats, more for the design than for function. 

There was a dress that came out in the early 1950s that was designed by Dior. It had a very slender design up top before breaking into a waterfall of pleats at the waistline.

Fur was popular in the 50s, but it was used minimally for things like jacket cuffs or collars. Reversible fabrics also made a debut in the 50s so that you could display both the outside and inside of your clothing. 

Some men had suit coats with shiny interiors that would show slightly as they moved, though the exterior was conservative in color (brown, gray, or black).

For a pop of color, orange became popular in fashion. A lot of orange was used for accessories like hats and bags. There were also paler shades of orange that were used for dresses. For the cooler seasons, orange turned into deeper shades of tans or gingers. 

White was still very popular in the 50s as well. Men often wore neutral shades like beige or grey. Blues were introduced later on in the decade.

History of men’s & women’s fashion in the 50s

There was a pretty substantial divide between men’s and women’s fashion in the 1950s. Men were wearing more casual clothing by the end of the decade, though it seemed like women’s fashion was becoming more formal and fancy. There was a sense of playfulness in fashion for both genders with bold colors and prints.

There were a number of influences that dictated what fashion in the 50s looked like, including 50s music. Rock and roll music was very popular and brought some fun to fashion. 

Tight-knit sweaters with a V-neck and an unbuttoned dress shirt underneath were worn by men as things became more casual. Denim jeans, a basic white t-shirt, belt, and leather jacket were a very casual look worn by rockers that inspired everyday fashion.

People were making more money in the 50s, and even teens were able to focus more on investing in fun and new items to extend their wardrobe. Freedom and influence led to poodle skirts in the late 1940s that carried over to the 50s. Unstructured design led to a fun fashion decade in the 60s.

What were the top fashion trends in the ’50s?

In the 1950s, dresses had very distinct hemlines that stopped around the area of the knee. If the weather was chilly enough, these dresses were topped with a very form-fitting petticoat. As the 50s progressed, dresses took on the ‘swing’ style. 

This is a throwback design that we still see women wearing today. Pleats, floral prints, polka dots, and even stripes were used for a bold fashion statement. Formal dresses usually went down to the floor, and they were worn with elbow-length gloves.

In the early 1950s, the Teddy Boys-style became popular in London and carried over to the U.S. as well. It wasn’t a cheap look. In fact, a Teddy Boy suit was quite pricey. A crisp, white poplin shirt was accessorized by a very thin tie. 

A single-breasted drape jacket was paired with narrow-cut pants. A man’s hair was very neat with long sideburns. Men often carried combs with them to fix any small amount of hair that would fall out of place. Footwear included suede shoes with very thick soles and brightly colored or patterned socks.

Music has always had a big impact on teen fashion, and this was especially true in the 1950s. You may be familiar with the song “Blue Suede Shoes,” and this encompassed the very neat and tidy style of 50s attire. 

Designers weren’t really concerned with youth during that decade, but teens started their own trends that included full skirts, pedal pushers, Capri pants, leisure wear, denim, and dungarees. 

Teen males often wore shirts, ties, and pressed slacks. There was also a more rebellious group of teens that liked to stay in dark clothing that was a bit baggier and messier than other fashion options of the 50s.

As a newfound expert in the fashion of the 1950s, you can try to incorporate some of the clothing from this decade into your own wardrobe. Many women’s dresses still mimic the 50s style, and the neatness of men’s clothing is still popular today. 

In the next few chapters, we’re going to be talking more about 50s aesthetics and fashion ideas for both men and women. We’ll wrap up this article with information on some of the most notable fashion icons of the 1950s. Carry on reading to find out more!

1950’s fashion for women

The 1950s was a time in fashion when new colors, patterns, styles, and shapes were introduced. Many popular fashion trends of the 50s are things that we still see today. You’re surely familiar with poodle skirts and saddle shoes.

There’s a lot more to familiarize yourself with. In this chapter, we’re going to look at what women were specifically wearing in the 50s regarding dresses, swimwear, and even makeup and accessories.

What did women wear in the 50s?

Women chose clothing in the 50s that was both conservative and glamorous. Women that were alive during the Great Depression, as well as World War II, were thrilled to be able to afford new fashion and try new styles. 

Circle skirts, cinched waistlines and accentuated hips were popular. Looks were very mature, but there was also a new casual appeal that women embraced fully.

Women with an hourglass figure were worshipped in the 50s, and clothing represented that with things like skirts with big round bottoms or slender pencil skirts. Women also started to wear pants more frequently during this decade. 

The shirt dress was popular, providing a very casual but attractive style. When women dressed up, they accessorized themselves with gloves and hats.

The 1950s included economic gains that created a consumer-driven population. Most people were now secure with good jobs, allowing them to live comfortably. Women were able to stay at home after having to work during World War II. 

And they busied themselves with housewife work. They also made sure to put their best fashion foot forward when they went out shopping, to visit friends, or out with their spouses.

What was women’s fashion in the 50s?

During the 1940s, clothing styles were very minimal and boring. Dull colors, a boxy design, and cheap fabrics were common because of what was available then. The new look of the 1950s brought about new femininity and style. 

Let’s break down some of the different clothing categories for a woman’s wardrobe in the 50s, and we’ll discuss what was popular during that decade.

50’s dresses

Christian Dior came out with the “New Look” in the late 1940s. It was a very bold fashion movement for women that focused on feminine dresses with full skirts and padded busts. The goal was to make a woman’s waist look very tiny. This trend was a bit of a throwback to the Victorian Era, with a little sexier appeal. 

Women were expected to do it all in the 50s, including caring for the children, taking care of the home, and keeping their husbands happy. They were meant to do it all while looking amazing. The quality of a woman’s dress would reflect the success of her husband.

Woman sips milkshake 50s look

The swing dress and the wiggle dress were popular in the 50s. A swing dress had a full skirt and stopped right around the knees. A wiggle dress was form-fitting and was a bit sheerer. It had a snug top and was relatively modest.

50’s skirts

Skirts in the 50s were designed exactly the same as dresses. But they were cut at the waist so you could choose a different top. Skirts were full and made of one large piece of fabric in a circle style. 

Skirts were often worn on top of many layers of petticoats to increase the overall volume. Pleats were popular, as was the A-line skirt. The 50s poodle skirt carried over from the late 40s and was popular for younger women in casual scenarios. 

Paired with saddle shoes, this is a classic look that many women turn to today if they need to dress in a 50s theme.

50’s shoes for women

Shoes made with both white and black material were very popular in the 1950s and were known as saddle shoes. They were commonly worn by both young and middle-aged women, paired with circle skirts made of cotton. 

Saddle shoes also looked great with denim, so they were a very simple but versatile shoe. For more casual shoe needs, lace-up sneakers and Mary Janes were popular. Ballet flats made their debut around this time as well.

50’s hair and makeup

1950s hair and makeup were sexy and fun. Makeup was used to enhance a woman’s natural beauty. The eyebrows were only slightly cleaned up to accentuate the arch. 

Popular eye makeup included the wingtip applied with black eyeliner. Lips were usually lined and filled, so they looked very full. There was sometimes a bit of color added to the cheekbones.

50’s blouses

The full round skirt and fitted pants were paired with button-down blouses in the 50s. They had a very tailored look and were fitted. Tucked in, there wasn’t meant to be any bunching showing. 

Popular blouse necklines included the boat neck and classic round shape. Popular hues were light blue, red, pink, black, white, and polka dots.

More elaborate blouses in the 50s featured small ruffles, bows, embroidery, and pintucks. Sleeves could be short, ¾ length, or full. If cuffs existed around the wrist, they were usually quite wide.

50’s pants for women

We’ve talked a lot about the popular dresses and skirts of the 50s, but many women wore pants during this decade. Women often wore slacks and jeans in the comfort of their home, but many women ventured out in pants as the 50s went on. 

A typical style of pants called cigarette pants featured a narrow hip and legs to show off the curves of a woman’s figure. Solid colors were sold as well as fun prints like polka dots, plaid, and stripes.

Capri pants were introduced around the 50s, and they’re still popular today. They came up to a woman’s mid-calf and were often worn with a very thin belt. Capri jeans were casual and often had cuffs at the bottom of each leg.

50’s women’s swimwear

Swimwear was fun and sexy, featuring rompers and one-piece designs. For women that wanted to be more conservative, matching shorts or even a button-down skirt were available. 

You could cover up and remove your extra garments depending on what you were doing. Other coverup options in the 50s included vests, smocks, and robes.

Woman 50s style bathing suit

The 1950s is one of the last decades that focused on modesty while allowing women to embrace a bit of sexy style. The tops of swimsuits were designed to have cups built into them to enhance a woman’s shape. 

Different gathers and ruching of fabric would show off the hourglass shape. Strapless bathing suit tops were paired with more coverage on the bottom.

50’s coats for women

Women’s coats in the 50s were very structural and formal. They almost look like a dress on their own. They are usually buttoned-down along the front and come in many colors like red, black, navy, green, and much more. 

Simple collars were included, and large pockets were usually part of the design. The princess coat was short but had a very wide flare at the waistline. It was a common winter article.

50’s hats for women

Small hats were designed in the 50s to feature small veils. This hat style is called a fascinator today, but there wasn’t an official term for it back then. Whimsies were faux hats that were actually headbands or hair clips that didn’t call for the hair to be pressed down.

A pillbox hat was tall with rounded edges. Berets were made of softer wool material. Saucer hats were very flat and round, so they resembled a bit of a halo or saucer. This was a very dramatic look. The bucket hat provided height and was made popular by Audrey Hepburn.

50’s women’s suits

Though most women stayed home in the 1950s, suits and work attire were still being made. Tailored suits showed off a woman’s professional attitude so other people would take her seriously. Suits often included the popular round skirt shape topped with an elaborate coat.

50’s accessories for women

Accessories in the 1950s were simple, but there were some distinct trends that were popular. Women often wore folded-down white bobby socks with a pair of saddle shoes or Mary Janes. 

Stockings came in many different varieties, some with seams and designs sewed up the back of the ankle. Nude stockings were available, but most women wanted to show off their stockings, so black was a popular shade.

Older women usually wore a hat when they were dressed up, though younger women skipped this accessory. Hats were very small and usually made of felt. They would often have a small detail on them like a bow or flowers. 

The goal was to be able to place your small hat on top of a big hairstyle (like a bouffant). Some even sat on the side of the head and were secured with bobby pins.

Continue reading to find out more about fashion in the 1950s. In the next chapter, we’ll talk about 50s fashion for men. This article will also discuss how to nail down the 50s style and the most notable fashion icons of this time period. Stick with us to learn much more.

1950’s fashion for men

The 1950s brought about a lot of change in men’s fashion, just as women experienced during this time frame as well. It seems like men and women were allowed to let loose a little bit more during the 50s, experiment with fashion, and have some fun.

In this chapter, we’re going to look specifically at 50s fashion for men. We’ll talk about what men were wearing in the 50s, what trends were popular, and some of the specific clothing items that could be found in every man’s closet at that time.

What did men wear in the 50s?

Men often dressed very simply when they needed to go to work or dress for a formal event. Suits, slacks, and jackets were usually very drab when it came to color. Men were often seen wearing grays, dark blues, and browns to work. However, their casual clothing was a bit more adventurous and laid back in the 50s. 

Bold splashes of color and prints were common, as well as simple synthetic materials that were easy to launder. Men were lucky to have a large variety of options available to them, which was quite different than previous decades.

Men didn’t wear formal suits outside of work, but there was a popular blazer style that was worn for casual events. It had a very straight hang, a simple shoulder, and a two-button single-breasted front. Dark colors and modest patterns were common. 

Man dance holds woman yellow white outfit

Other casual clothing included corduroy pants and button-down shirts in bold colors such as mustard yellow, light blue, tan, ivory, emerald green, and burgundy.

By the late 1950s, patterns had become much bolder. It was common to see men in large plaids in bright colors and checks. Plaids were even worn in the summer months, which is something we generally save for winter in this day and age. 

Details included elaborate buttons, elbow patches, and detailed collars. Popular materials were gabardine, nylon, rayon, cotton, linen, silk, and wool.

What was men’s fashion in the 50s?

Let’s break down some of the specific clothing items that men wore in the 1950s. While many of these articles are still wardrobe basics today, the style and patterns in which they were worn were very distinct for that time period. 

Keep in mind that this is a time when households typically had more money to work with than they did about a decade prior when World War II was going on.

50’s men’s coats

Coats became more casual in the 1950s. Men swapped out their long formal versions for shorter jackets that came in various materials and colors. Raincoats and dress coats were still worn for work wear. 

The surcoat came around in the 50s with a length that went to the middle of the hip and a straight body. For some added flare, a fabric or fur collar was sometimes added. Flap pockets or big slashes in the sides were sometimes paired with a belt around the waist.

Safari jackets were introduced in the 1930s but were brought back briefly in the 50s. It also evolved into the Norfolk surcoat. They both had removable liners, and the exterior could be made from leather, gabardine, suede, or a synthetic blend. Men looking for a timeless look chose their jackets in brown, gray, or navy.

50’s men’s shirts

Men invested in classic shirt designs that were made in a variety of colors and styles. The button-down dress shirt could be found in plaid, bold colors, and prints. Bowling shirts also became popular in the 50s, whether you were hitting the lanes or not. 

Polo shirts, pullover sweaters, and the classic white greaser t-shirt were all worn throughout the year. Sleeves were often rolled up, and light cotton or linen were popular materials for warmer weather. The neckline was usually high, though most men didn’t button their shirts all the way up.

T-shirts were very casual and sometimes worn with a V-neck, but prints didn’t come around until later on. Men in the 50s usually had a wide variety of basic tees that they would pair with jeans or tight-fitting slacks. We still love classic t-shirts in today’s fashion world.

50’s trousers for men

Trousers were popular and came in every shade in the 50s. The goal was to create a look that contrasted between bold pants and a neutral shirt. Smooth pants paired with a textured sports coat were a popular wardrobe choice, and most men avoided matching their clothing too much when dressing for leisure.

Pants were generally made from materials such as gabardine, rayon, linen, cotton, corduroy, flannel, or wool. The wash and wear style also became popular in the 50s, providing men (or the women taking care of their clothes) with an easy-care option.

50’s shoes for men

Men didn’t wear many accessories in the 1950s, but their shoes and hat were wardrobe staples. Lace-up Oxfords matched with most outfits, and penny loafers were worn for formal clothing by men and young boys as well. 

Brown was a common shoe color, and details included tassel ties or cutout pieces along the vamp. Moccasin slip-on shoes or slippers were casual and worn at home.

Saddle shoes were worn by men as well as women in the 50s. The difference between this version and the one from the 20s is that new colors were being incorporated into the design. You could find saddle shoes with blue, white, brown and grey on them. Suede was sometimes used for slip-on shoes. Elvis even wrote a song about his favorite pair.

50’s men’s hats

Men only wore hats in the 50s when they were dressed in business clothing or in something fancy for summertime. The fedora was extremely popular and came in a variety of shapes. 

The Panama hat had a center crease, and the bucket hat was a walking hat that was tilted to the side when worn. Some hats had a thin band of leather or felt on them (this was common later in the decade).

Man looking tablet outdoors panama hat

The newsboy cap was light, casual, and fun. Men of all ages wore it with a variety of outfits throughout the year. They were made from wool in the cooler months and silk or tweed in the summer.

50’s suits for men

The post-war rebellion had an impact on style and the men’s suit in the 1950s. Some men chose to go back to the baggier, pleated pant that was popular prior to the war, but vests and three-piece suits were starting to lose their popularity. 

There was also that casual style that was becoming more popular in the 50s, with the zoot suit losing its notoriety. The Ivy League suit incorporated a large, baggy suit jacket paired with pants that didn’t have pleats.

50’s jeans for men

Most men treated slacks like their jeans in the 50s. However, denim was becoming more popular as celebrities started wearing them. Men looked up to Elvis for style guidance, and Elvis was wearing rolled-up denim pants in the 1950s. 

This greaser look became popular amongst the male crowd that wanted to rebel against the more formal look that was popular during this decade.

50’s waistcoats

Prior to fashion in the 50s, coats for men were pretty long and formal. You’ve probably seen the long raincoat-style jacket with the large buckle that wraps around the front of the design. That was left in the back of the closet many times for the 50s waistcoat that ended right at the belt line. More casual varieties had bold colors.

50’s men’s accessories

Women have always been known to have more accessories as part of their wardrobe, but men in the 50s wore items such as belts, scarves, glasses, bowties, and more. These accessories were generally pretty simple and were matched to the outfit for a complete look.

50’s men’s hair and facial hair

Men wore their hair a bit long in the 1950s, and they stayed away from facial hair for the most part. Though their hair was long, it was styled into a side-part with a slight wave in the front. 

Man leather jacket hairstyle 50ss

If you had naturally wavy or curly hair, you could use this to your advantage to keep up with looks from celebrities like Elvis, John Travolta, John Wayne, and Marlon Brando.

We’ve covered all of the basics of men’s fashion in the 50s. This should give you a good idea of what men looked like during this decade. You can use a lot of this inspiration in your own life to exude a great deal of classic style. Fashion has evolved quite a bit since then, but you can still see a lot of the 50s classic styles today.

How to get the 1950’s style?

Now that you’re a bit more familiar with the specifics of the 1950s style and what people were wearing, you might be motivated and inspired to dress up in a way that would fit into this decade.

This chapter is designed to help you get that 1950s look with what you have in your closet or with a few purchased articles of clothing. Going to a costume party or simply expressing your individuality has never been more fun than with style ideas from the 1950s. 

We still incorporate much of the 1950s style into how we’re dressing today in the 2020s, so take a look at some of these ideas and see if you can spot modern trends that are similar.

50’s fashion outfits for men

Men’s fashion has changed quite dramatically over the years, just like women’s. Many 1950s styles for men have stuck around since then or found their way back into popularity. You may be wearing outfits that have 50s style built right into them and not even know it. 

Rather than putting on a suit each morning and sticking to that very formal look (which was popular in previous decades), men started taking a more fashionable and leisurely approach to fashion in the 50s. Let’s take a look at some commonly worn outfits among men during this decade.

Baggy suit + narrow tie + shoes

In the 40s, suits for men were pretty fitted and tailored. The three-piece look was very popular until the 50s hit. This was when the look became a little baggier. Suit pants and coats were neatly pressed and designed well, but there was more material. 

A button-down shirt was worn underneath with a narrow tie. Shoes were usually simple and worn in neutral black or brown.

Colored shirt + trousers + sports coat

Men started to incorporate a pop of color into their casual outfits early in the 1950s. Trousers came in a variety of colors, but men who stuck to neutral pants would wear a colored shirt and a sports coat to bring everything together.

Hawaiian shirt + knee-length shorts

Guy hat hawaiian shirt

As the 50s went on, men became more adventurous with their clothing. They were wearing prints and colors that weren’t popular until this point in time. Hawaiian shirts were a fun and casual wardrobe choice that was paired with knee-length shorts and either loafers or sandals.

Bowling Shirt + Checkered Pants

The bowling shirt became popular from this favorite pastime activity, but men continued to wear the casual button-down outside of the lanes. Bowling shirts were usually two-toned and featured bright colors. 

They could be worn partially unbuttoned with a t-shirt underneath. In an adventurous move, men sometimes paired their bowling shirts with a patterned pair of pants that were quite contrasting. Casual shoes or loafers completed the look.

The Rockabilly Look

Rockabilly was a popular music movement, but there was fashion that went along with it. Men wore loosely fitting black slacks with a white button-down shirt and a brightly colored tuxedo-style jacket. Shiny shoes and a great pair of sunglasses brought everything together. The saddle shoe look also went with this outfit.

Preppy 50’s Attire

Young men in the 50s wore the preppy ivy league look, but it was something that older men adopted as well. Neat slacks paired with a turtleneck or dress shirt could be topped with a cardigan sweater. Perfectly coifed hair and sneakers or dress shoes were included.

50’s fashion outfits for women

Women were also trying out some different fashion trends in the 50s that were quite different from previous decades. They were trending towards more leisurely clothing options, including slacks, denim, and Capri pants. Let’s take a look at some of the various fashion outfits worn by women in the 1950s. You probably have some similar items inside of your own closet right now.

Sheath dress + cropped bolero jacket

A sheath dress from the 50s was one that didn’t have a lot of definition in the waist. It had a fitted, straight-cut design that often had some sort of basic underlay with a lace or sheer fabric on the top. 

Woman black dress singing

A matching bolero jacket cropped high at the waist brought some additional style to the look and made it all look very well put together. This look was usually worn with heels.

Poodle skirt + saddle shoes + blouse + cardigan

The younger female crowd quickly adopted the poodle skirt. This was a big, full skirt that was solid in color. It featured an actual picture of a poodle on it, often with a big leash flowing along as an embellishment. 

There was sometimes a solid strip of contrasting fabric along the waist as well. The length of the poodle skirt usually went somewhere to the mid-calf region. White ankle socks (sometimes with ruffles) and saddle shoes were worn on the feet.

 On top was usually a short-sleeved blouse and a cardigan if the weather was chilly. A big, chunky headband was a popular accessory for this outfit, as were bows. Women usually wore their hair flipped out at the bottom.

High-waisted trousers + button-down blouse

When women wanted to dress comfortably or leisurely, they wore high-waist trousers that were somewhat fitted. Sometimes a belt was worn, though it wasn’t always necessary. 

A button-down blouse dressed the look up a bit, but the sleeves could be rolled up as needed. Simple, flat sneakers were popular around the house.

The Housewife Look

Some women really embraced the look of the well put together housewife in the 50s, though others were focusing more on the casual clothing that was becoming more popular. The housewife look featured a one-piece dress that had a very full skirt. 

There was often a small collar at the neckline. Buttons sometimes ran down the front of the dress. Women who were busy cooking or cleaning often wore a small apron around their waist to protect their clothing from getting dirty. 

Hair was usually styled perfectly, though sometimes worn with a bandana or scarf around the head to protect recently styled hair.

Glamour Casual

A little more casual of a look for housewives included a full skirt in a print or pattern. A tightly fitting blouse was worn on top and tucked into the skirt, so the entire outfit looked more like a dress. 

A strip of ribbon or fabric at the top of the skirt covered up the line between the two pieces of clothing. Blouses really varied at this time, so some of them had a V-neck, buttons along the front, ¾ sleeves, or even a large bow or faux shawl at the neck. 

A low heel and stockings were wardrobe staples, especially when running out to the store or visiting with neighbors.

Cropped Denim Pants + Blouse + Flat Shoes

Younger women embraced the cropped denim look that was made popular by stars like Audrey Hepburn. These jeans were tight and folded at the bottom, so they reached the mid-calf area. 

A fitted blouse that had very short sleeves was left unbuttoned a bit at the neckline. Flat, Ked-like sneakers were popular for a comfortable look. To dress the look up, you could pair this outfit with saddle shoes. 

As an accessory, women sometimes wore a band of fabric or bandana tied around their hairline as a headband. Hair was worn short and full, often with an outward flip at the bottom.

Gingham Dress + Low Heels

Gingham was a very popular print in the 50s. It was worn simply, often in black and white hues. A gingham dress usually had a very boxy neck and a tight bodice. It would flow out at the waist and then down past the knees just a little bit. 

Worn with a very sheer or natural pair of stockings, lower heels were a popular shoe choice. When a dress like this was worn and took a lot of attention, women started to pull their hair back. 

Some women even went for a very cropped hairstyle. However, bangs were very popular and added some style to otherwise simple hair.

Have you seen outfits in your own closet that resemble some of these popular styles from the 1950s? Chances are you have some skirts or blouses that are reminiscent of this time period. 

Our wardrobes usually consist of some classic items that have been around for decades, though we don’t always pair them with other items that give a complete ‘time period’ look. 

Sit tight for the next chapter in this series, which covers some of the different fashion icons that were popular in the 1950s. These are celebrities that helped develop the fashion world during this decade and influenced style for years to come.

50’s fashion icons

During the 1950s, there were many celebrities and icons who contributed to developments in fashion and trends. These were notable people that others looked up to for inspiration.

Designers were creating iconic looks just for them that people went on to imitate in their own lives. In this chapter, we’re going to be looking at fashion icons of the 1950s and why they were important.

Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe was an actress, comedian, singer, and model that was popular in the 1950s into the 1960s. She was an iconic sex symbol that created a bit impact on the fashion world thanks to her satin and sleek outfits that turned heads. 

Marilyn monroe

Source: Wikimedia.org

We’re all familiar with the shot of Monroe standing in a white dress with a breeze of air pushing the skirt of her dress up in a revealing manner. She did quite a bit of modeling, including a stint on the cover of Playboy. 

Unfortunately, Marilyn Monroe struggled with demons in her personal life relating to addiction and mood disorders. This led to her untimely death, which was caused by an overdose of sleeping pills.

James Dean

James Dean had an impact not only on the fashion world but also on acting. He still has a great deal of influence today, despite his death in 1955. Dean had a very simple, casual, and sexy appeal. He wore his hair with volume and slicked back. 

His tight jeans and basic t-shirt made the girls swoon. Add a plaid shirt or a blouson jacket, and you have the James Dean look mastered. The attitude completed the look.

Grace Kelly

Grace Kelly had and still has a substantial impact on fashion thanks to her class and style. She always had a simple hairstyle with a bold red lip and dark eyes. She was often seen in elaborate ball gowns and dresses with classic heels. 

It was an all-American look that was often attainable when she was dressed down slightly. Women strived to look as well put-together as Grace Kelly. 

She was also well known for her posture in photos and appearances, which was perfected thanks to her experience in the dance world.

Audrey Hepburn

Audrey Hepburn had a fun and flirty style thanks to her shining smile, short bangs, and gorgeous outfits. She was a fan of a headscarf, which she paired with a number of different outfits. 

She also had a bold red lip, though she was often found in much more casual clothing than stars like Grace Kelly were. Polo shirts, Capri pants, flats, and a button-down shirt with the sleeves rolled up were Audrey Hepburn classics.

Elvis Presley

Elvis presley

Source: Wikimedia.org

Elvis Presley posters were on every girl’s wall in the 1950s, thanks to his sexy rockabilly look. He created his own style that was a mix between preppy, biker, and rocker. He wore high-waist trousers and button-down shirts with the top buttons undone, and at one point, he performed in full metallic suits with perfectly styled hair.

Sophia Loren

Slim fitting, tight pencil skirts and dresses combined with large hats, gloves, and accessories, Sophia Loren gave off the impression that she knew she was beautiful, and she had the attitude to go along with it. She had a very sexy hourglass figure and was one of the first women to have a signature eyeliner style.

We’ve hopefully inspired you to read more about some of these 1950s fashion icons. They were quite inspirational for their time, contributing to what fashion became in the following decades and what it is today. Many of their looks are still worn today.


We’ve summed up what fashion was like in the 1950s, and now you’re familiar with what men and women wore during this time period. You may have a need to dress up in 50s gear for a party or themed event, and you have the knowledge to come up with one of the best outfits around. 

Let us know what you come up with, and feel free to share this article with someone else you know that has to dress up as well. Let us know if you have questions about 50s fashion, and we would be happy to help.

2 thoughts on “50’s Fashion for Women & Men – Style Guide, Icons & Outfits”

  1. Thanks for the information about the 50’s. I grew-up in that aria and I do remember most of what was in these articles. It’s true not much as changed since then but, I think time is repeating the 50’s and others in a different way and style.

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