To think of 1950s fashion is akin to a bright summers day! Glamourous shapes, colourful prints and always exaggerated with voluminous skirts and tiny waists.
To understand the clothing of this era, one must understand what was really going on and how it influenced everyone’s way of life and subsequently how they expressed themselves through dress.
Let’s not forget that people did not see the back of rationing in one form or another until 1958. Even though we look back at the fifties as a colourful vibrant era – it was really a time of hard work for the country to get back to stability. Despite the hardship, people were happy and not surprisingly there was euphoria from winning the war. By the end of the 50s, the hard work of rebuilding the country had paid off and we were well on the way to prosperity. By the end of the decade, nearly every household had a television and people found they had disposable income again possibly influenced by the rise of women going to work.
All these economic and social changes had a significant impact on clothing and the pace of fashion in our country.
From a fashion point of view, this was the rise of the ‘ready to wear’ phenomenon. Clothing was now being manufactured ‘en mass’ and with greatly improved standards in construction and cloth quality. Variety was now available and imports started to return from, in particular….Paris.
Dior’s iconic ‘New Look’ arrived in Paris in 1947 and due to it’s vastly different shape to the war years – had an enormous impact on the fashion world. Style was now back on track, ironically picking up from where it left off before the pause created by the war. Dior created a succession of silhouettes he based on letter shapes – line A being an a-line silhouette derived from a widening towards the hem and was quickly followed by the Y-line, created by wide dolman sleeves tapering to a slim skirt. However, Dior’s initial look continued to dominate for many years with fashion looking nostalgically to the past with its boned bodices and full petticoats.
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