In these modern times, we have arguably developed a great love for all things vintage: vintage clothing, vintage shoes, vintage hairstyles, and even vintage furniture. Women may admire the vintage look now, but have you ever wondered what an old ’50s beauty routine would be like?
Personally, I was amazed to realise just how different things were back then. I mean, sure, we may achieve the same “vintage look and style” in 2016 as they did back then (think pinup dresses, dramatic winged eyeliner, and red lips Marilyn Monroe-style) but the actual methods, routines, and products we use are extremely different today than those of the actual ’50s. Since a lot of us possess have a love for all things retro, let’s take a look at seven examples of what your beauty and shopping routine may look like if you lived in the ’50s.
1. A lot of us hop into the shower first thing in the morning. If you lived in the ’50s, however, you’d most likely be taking a bath instead. Forget using your special soaps from your favourite brand as well. You’d probably be using an all-purpose bar soap (Palmolive, Sunlight, or a Soap and Glory soap bar, to name a few) to rinse away the daily grime. These bars were also used for laundry, believe it or not.
2. When it came to makeup, there was no variety available for you to pick up from your liquid foundation and contouring set. Instead, you’d probably be purchasing an all-in-one base and powder in a compact form. For example, Max Factor, Revlon, Pond, and Avon were the most popular skincare and cosmetic brands at that time. Most likely, you’d also own a Volupté compact: A decorated small case that contained powder and puff. A little blush, winged eyeliner (if you were going for a glamorous look), mascara, and a shade of red lipstick (none of the crazy colours we rock today) would have been applied to your face to complete the perfect look.
3. If you lived in the ’50s, your closet was filled with cardigans and sweater sets, dresses with ballerina-length hems, pencil skirts, saddle shoes, heels and (for special occasions). It’s possible that your clothing would also be made of natural materials, such as cotton or wool. Being glamourous was the golden key.
4. In the ’50s, “malls” weren’t a thing yet. According to The Guardian, the first mall ever built in America was the Southdale Shopping Center in Edina, Minnesota, which opened in 1956. The chances are that back in the ’50s you would have shopped at independently owned stores near where you lived.
For a more elevated shopping experience, however, department stores were much more popular. These were located in the downtown area of larger cities, and visiting one would likely feel much more like an “outing” and a “treat” than it does today.
5. Back in the day, folks didn’t have quite as an elaborate selection of bras and underwear as we do today. Young girls mainly wore plain, white cotton bras and underwear that you would buy from the department store. However, women of the ’50s were in love with glamour and the hourglass waist look, so corsets and girdleswere hugely popular, along with silk slips and nylons. If you wanted to buy any of these items, you had to head over to an exclusive lingerie store (which sold more glamorous undergarments) purchase a half slip for £3.99.
6. After you had taken off your saddle shoes, clothing, nylons, and girdle at the end of the day, chances are you’d slip into something much more comfortable: A Lanz nightgown, which was all the rage and the “nighttime fashion” of the time.
7. The most popular way to style your hair was cut short or just above the shoulders, worn loose and glamorously waved, or curled. Most women would set their hair in curlers and sleep with them in overnight, either be using foam, pin, or rag rollers. Some would even cover their hair with a cap to protect the locks while they slept. Others still would only try to bed as still as they possibly could.
In 1952, 75% of women were married, with the average age for marriage 21 years old. Their place was firmly regarded as in the home – something of a shock to those who had worked during and after the war, which wasn’t easy. In 1950, most women had given up a job to marry. They were real wives and full-time mothers to few children. But many women wanted to be at work, who sadly couldn’t due to responsibility.