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Achieve 50's Silhouette

When the 1950s concluded, the hard work implemented to rebuild the world had paid off and our population were on the path to prosperity. By the end of this era, most, if not every, household had a television in their home, a high percentage of families had a disposable income and the rise of women going back to work increased heavily.


In various ways, the fashion style in the 1950s is very different from the clothing designs in today’s society, particularly for women. The key fashion design and style in the 1950s was a heavily feminine and exaggerated hourglass silhouette type-figure. These silhouette dresses were tailored to perfectly fit a woman, this gives the woman a natural hourglass shape and the fit and was very popular throughout the 1950s decade as it was all about the silhouette figure. 


For women that lack the silhouette look, these ‘curves’ can be created through fashion easily, most women that lacked this popular body shape would design and style their outfits and incorporate fashion accessories such as nets, padding, belts and foundation garments. Throughout the 1950s two main silhouettes were designed, the full skirt and the slim-fitting pencil skirt, these the ‘wasp waist’ designs are both iconic looks from the decade that prevailed until the late 50s. These outfit styles were portrayed as sexy or fun and super flirty, this era created a ‘look’ that was fitted for any body shape and fit all body types. 


Fashion and style in the 1950s had a complete shift, despite being in the era of World War II clothes and materials were being manufactured ‘en mass’ and with heavily improved standards. After World War I, the manufacturing of clothes was on halt, around 1947 fashion and design got back on track, ironically, the fashion styles picked up exactly where it was left off before the pause created by the war. 


It wasn’t until the 1950s decade that the gap between fashion for children, young adults and adults were acknowledged, as time progressed specifically in this era, clothes were styles and designed to suit these age gaps. Major designers like Dior was a major factor in creating a succession of silhouettes, Dior derived these wanted styles by widening the fabric towards the hem and creating wide dolman sleeves, this evidently tapered to a slim skirt giving an hourglass and slim waist figure. 


In today’s day and age, the ‘silhouette’ look is easy to achieve but some methods of achieving this look are not the most ‘socially accepted’ way of dressing. One of these more taboo fashion styles is the ‘sweater girl’ look, this is the feminine ideal of a large, pointed bust, attained by the bullet bra, this conical pre-padded bra pushes the bust upwards and outwards providing any woman wearing it with a silhouette type of look.


A major fashion style that provides women with the slim-waist style was a wide circular/pleated skirt worn with various layers of petticoats under to give a look that lifts the bottom and slims the waist, this was worn in both day and eveningwear. Dress lengths were most often designed to sit below the knee, never shorter, but at times they were styled to be slightly longer for events that required eveningwear. Petticoats were essentially several layers of net worn under eveningwear in vibrant colours, generally starched for extra stiffness.


Pencil skirts are a way to achieve the 50s silhouette look, this narrow, close-fitting skirt was referred to at times as the ‘hobble’ skirt, this straight skirt was branded as the ‘hobble’ skirt due to the restrictive nature it created for women when they were walking. This skirt was popular for all ages, the natural waist look with a slight split at the back and slight excess fabric gave a sophisticated and mature look for older women when wearing this skirt. In contrast to this, young adults can achieve a silhouette look when wearing this pencil skirt as most times a sweater paired with flats or sneakers can make this look young and fun whilst still giving a slim waist look. 


The ‘Sweater Girl Look’ is a very popular look that gave women the ability to achieve a 50s silhouette look. The tight sweater look was born in the 40s but remained popular throughout the decade of the 50s. This look, ironically, is shocking to the modern eye as the aim behind the style was to emphasise a thrusting conical-shaped bust and was worn with the infamous bullet bra. Despite this fashion style being odd for today’s society, women can still find these fashion pieces to help them create the 50s silhouette look. 


Women can implement various ‘strategies’ to help them achieve the 50s silhouette look, this can be done by wearing the correct undergarments, wearing tight pencil skirts that give the silhouette look requires the right undies to not show. Another way to achieve this silhouette look, you can accessories, by wearing belts and other items that wrap around your waist, the illusion of a small waist is made. Wearing items such as wide belts, the look of a 50s silhouette is achieved, was this accessory creates the desired look whether the person is wearing a full skirt, a pencil or even capri pants. 


A mean feature of lingerie that played a supporting role in shaping the 50’s silhouette figure are corsets and/or corselettes, merry widows, garter belts, seamed stockings and even bustiers.  These authentic vintage styles are still used and worn in today’s day and age as they continue to assist women in achieving the 50s silhouette style look. These foundationary items emphasised the slim waist that fashion demanded and still demands, these garments are unlike wearing any modern style shapewear.