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Fashion in the 1950s
Transcript of Fashion in the 1950s
By Imogen Temple
Social and Cultural Features of the 1950s:
The fifties was an era of prosperity and restoration - the decade experienced a baby and economic boom as WW2 had ended and people were encouraged to spend and to repopulate the country.
As the economy prospered, so did everyone’s wardrobes - people had more money to spend, and more options to spend it on with new synthetic, easy-care fabrics coming to the market such as nylon, rayon, acrylic, spandex and polyester. People could now afford more luxurious clothing as the average wage heightened and unemployment rates were low and consumerism was born.
Women were urged to give up their jobs (which they had worked in the place of their absent husbands to support themselves and their family) and to take on the role of the 'good housewife'. Women's fashion was therefore influenced by this change, and included a very feminine silhouette with an accentuated bust and hips, and a drawn-in waist.
Men favoured the 'gray flannel suit', a business suit style so popular due to its conformity. Men mostly wore these suits because it provided a sense of security by conforming to something after the trauma of the war.
For the first time, teenagers and children started their own trend in fashion as the rock'n'roll scene influenced them through music and television. Previously, children and teenagers wore the same style clothing as their parents, but the fifties introduced the rockabilly style for this generation of youth.
The Main Influences of the USA on Australian Culture:
As television became a dominant aspect of everyday life for people worldwide, American TV shows aired in Australia provided an insight to their changing culture - including the way that they dressed. Australian designers and labels began to adopt the American style of clothing, as is shown in below image.
'Because of the end of World War II and the economic boom, men were sent back to work in record numbers. This meant that two of the primary driving forces behind the consumerism of the 1950s were housewives and the baby boom. In nearly all of the department store catalogs used to compile this section on fashion of the 1950's marketing was geared towards women. Descriptions of clothing included subtle cues that certain clothing and fashionable looks would help women either please their husbands or help them find a husband.'
Maggie Tabberer (a famous Australian model of the 1950s) wearing a Phillipa Gowns dress which shows that classic fifties silhouette. Photo by Bruno Bellini in 1958, a famous Australian-based fashion photographer.
A fifties Coles Supermarket women's clothing advertisement.
'Australian Home Journal' 1950s dress pattern.
YouTube clip of a 1950s Summer Fashion Show.
My grandma, Sheila (second from the left), and great-auntie Joan (far right) both wearing handmade dresses that they wore to a relative's wedding in 1954.
'The origins of 1950s fashion began with Christian Dior’s “New Look,” in 1947. The “New Look” consisted of a below-mid-calf length, full-skirt, pointed bust, small waist, and rounded shoulder line. The look became popular post WWII. At first, the style was not well received by Americans; however, that quickly changed as the trend dominated fashion magazines.'
A modern interpretation of 1950s women's fashion, taken at the Rose Seidler House Fifties Fair by myself.
An advertisement for women's winter fashions by a Sydney-based retail shop in the fifties.