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50s Popular Retro Looks

Retro clothing is mostly made up of fashion and styles designed and popularised in earlier eras, retro looks are mostly made up of past styles, materials or motifs. Unlike vintage clothing, retro looks are different as they don’t refer to any particular decade or period but rather is a note of style in which the clothing is made.

The most popular and distinct shapes seen in past eras is the waif-like gamine figure epitomised by celebrities such as Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly who was notorious for her more feminised hourglass figure. Fashion models popularised in the 1950s such as Jean Patchett, Dovima and Suzy Parker were differentiated from other models for their showcasing of the distinct skirt and dress lines that ultimately defined the 50s fashion designed. 


Long Sleeve Dress

The long sleeve look of the 1950s was mature, glamorous, and well put-together. These dresses were constricting and when wearing these outfits women were expected to be impeccably groomed in public or with their spouse at home. Women were always expected to have wear their accessories such as hats, belts, shoes, gloves, bags and jewellery in a coordinated manner with their dress. 

Fashion designers in the 1950s insisted on even their slimmest models wearing girdles under these dresses, slender women wore a pantie girdle if you are slender and heavier women mostly wore a pantie girdle with an open crotch. This need to wear such items was due to the mindset that a women’s figure was more youthful when wearing a brassiere and/or girdle, rather than a one-piece garment


Thinking Spring+Channeling the Marvelous Mrs Maisel

These dresses were matched perfectly with accessories such as hats, belts, shoes, gloves, bags and jewellery. Dresses with low cuts worked best with long pearly beads and big bling earrings, in addition to this, women used to match their dresses with a tight and think belt to create the illusion of a slim waist. 

Due to the older nature of this style, this long sleeve dress was mostly worn by housewives or by mothers as this had a more mature tone to its design. Women typically paired this dress with pearly necklaces and earrings to dramatise the look and give an elegant tone to the outfit. Depending on the person wearing the outfit, sometimes accessories such as gloves and belts were paired with dresses such as this. 


This short-sleeve full-skirted dress was most probably the most popular look throughout the 1950s, especially during the first half of the decade. The bodice was heavily fitted and was had a full circle or gathered skirt incorporated out from the natural waistline. This dress was typically worn with a petticoat underneath to give the women a further added fullness. When talking about the bodice, most dresses had a vast amount of options, they were typically tailored and decorated with large buttons and bows or linen wraps. 


1952 Matching shoes and purse (and belt, hat, gloves and jewellery) 

The features of short-sleeved dresses such as the above attached, incorporated scooped necks, V-necks, square-neck, or sweetheart necks, these different finishing cuts all were matched with different types of accessories.

With dresses such as this, women usually match their shoes bags and hair accessories with it to give a fun and lively aesthetic. This dress typically is matched with plain coloured accessories as most styles for short-sleeved dresses are very busy with polka dots and stripes taking the lead for most popular design. 


The sleeveless dress was and still is a very popular version of the long-skirted long-sleeved dress, this outfit was popularised in the 1950s. This dress had a fitted waist with a flowy bottom, a heavily fitted bodice and a gathered skirt flowing out from the natural waistline. This dress was typically worn with a petticoat underneath to give the women a further added fullness. 

In summer, sleeveless dresses became a more exciting and popular option, these dresses were mostly designed with polka dots, sailor themes, border prints, gingham and pastels. This retro look was a popular option for women as they felt youthful and lively, this 50s look embraces a colourful and younger design. 

1950s Women’s Fashion Accessories 

Most eveningwear styles were fashioned with spaghetti sleeves or were entirely sleeveless, with this dress, women typically wore a matching shawl over the gown. Additionally, women mostly matched this dress with fairly loose necklaces and earrings to exaggerate the outfit and give an elegant tone. 


The fuller the skirt, the better having multiple layers of stiff petticoats under your dress or skirt was one of the most popular retro fashion statements in the 1950s. This era was what popularised petticoats, skirts were as voluminous as the person wearing them could make it. Draped under he skirt using certain different techniques was at least 4 or 5 yards of fabric petticoats. 

Due to these skirts being under the dress, it was very hard to accessorise these items, most women wore these 3-inch wide waistband petticoats slightly above the natural waist and had the band fastened with a zipper and button on the side or back. 

Most women wore this daily, no matter the outfit being worn, the silhouette look was incorporated into it as the need and want to emphasise curves or a large bust/hips with a small waist was glorified.  To be ‘up to date’ with fashion, the skirt was made out of wool and came in a variety of different colours and styles this popular retro look was most likely the most sought out item in the 1950s era. Despite this product being extremely heavy and difficult to keep on your feet, women were willing to wear them as the popular retro look of a silhouette shape was so heavily sought after.