Spring in the 1950s was a cosmic time of the year. Yes, it meant scads of rain and thunderstorms, as well as the need for a layer or two still at times, but it was filled with such an uplifting sense of rejuvenated joie de vivre, lightness and brightness that one can’t help but run to embrace with open arms. It was recognised to be the season that sees the return of yard sales, sun parasols, playsuits, sandals and capri pants. It was youthful and sweet, pretty as a picture, and just a flat out pleasure to know and enjoy.
In the 1950s the world had to deal with the post-war destruction and rebuilding of architecture from the German bombing. In Britain, the re-election of Winston Churchill resulted in the abolition of food rationing and eventually the lifting of rationing on clothing and fabrics. The end of the war saw a resurgence in Haute Couture with Christian Dior and Cristóbal Balenciaga rebelling from the restricted austerity styles. The Fifties also saw changes in family life – women turned back into housekeepers, and the glamorous Fifties housewife was born.
The Fifties saw a return to femininity. The British fashion industry started to develop moving away from the U.S Styles and fabrics were being influenced by British designers who were celebrating the female hourglass figure during spring. More silhouettes were emerging with Dior using A-line styles and princess style dresses.
During the Fifties, the ready to wear mass market took off with Marks and Spencer being one of the leaders. Renowned for quality and value for money, Paris and the U.S often copied the way Marks and Spencer made their garments. A casual day look inspired by Audrey Hepburn was familiar. Capri pants, knitted jumpers and flat ballet pumps gave a more practical, feminine girly look which the public copied. For summer a new beachwear style was developing with matching styled bikinis paired with floating skirts.
The Icons of this decade are still influencing people in the present day. Audrey Hepburn was a film star with classic glamour. Her simple sweater and Capri pant style were hugely popular. Marilyn Monroe another famous movie star was seen as a sex symbol, and her glamorous on-screen outfits symbolised the grand evening styles known for the fifties. Elizabeth Taylor, an actress, had her career take off during the fifties with films including “Father of the Bride”, “A place in the Sun” and “Suddenly, Last Summer”. Brigitte Bardot, Grace Kelly and Sophia Loren were all also major icons of the decade.
The male icons influenced the male fashion hugely. While the T-shirt was previously only seen as underwear, James Dean changed this. His role in “Rebel without a Cause” opened other men’s eyes to the potential of their ‘underwear’. He also was often seen in denim helping create the fashionable denim look. The actor Marlon Brando showed a dark jeans and leather jacket style and was known for his tight t-shirts worn in “A Street Car Named Desire”, while the actor Cary Grant influenced the sleek hair look.
This season is recognised to change how fabric was worn for not only women but also for men, teenagers and children. Fashion and image was known to play a big impact representing each individual fabulously. We still yet keep in classic looks in todays fashion. The 1950s invented looks that can never go out of style or be forgotten.