1950's Full Skirts: A Short History
by Sachin Mishra on Apr 01, 2021
Raise a hand if your Vintage wardrobe contains a flared 50’s inspired skirt or dress! What’s that? Three? Seven? Ten, you say! We thought as much. No wardrobe is complete without one, be it a circle skirt, poodle or swing! Join us today as we take a look at the history of the 1950’s silhouette.
The 1950’s saw the return of the hourglass silhouette, popularised by Hollywood stars such as Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor. This classic shape had been worn and re-invented for decades prior to the fifties, but took a back seat in the 1920’s when the fashion favoured straight lines and no curves. This consisted of waist-less dresses which hung straight and loose from the shoulders, accompanied by short haircuts which framed the face.
During the war years of the 1940’s, there had been limitations proposed due to rationing. These limitations were strict, allowing very particular instructions regarding the meters of fabric used per garment, as well as number of buttons and size per collar and cuff.
Marilyn Monroe on set of The Seven Year Itch in 1955
With the post-war years came a new found freedom, which was expressed in all areas of consumerism. For the fashion industry, less limitations meant more fabric could be used for more exaggerated silhouettes; think corseted waists, full skirts and pointed bras. This began with high end fashion, most notably with Dior’s New Look in February of 1947. Dior’s idea was to sell a dream of the ‘’good old days’’, reflecting an age when women could afford to be glamorous. This involved tight fitting jackets with padded hips, petite waists and pleated A-line skirts. At first this was rejected by some, who perceived these ideas as regressive. Women had discovered a new found freedom and independence both in the workplace and with less restrictive fashions, this would be taking a step backward. The Little-Below-the-Knee Club protested against the New Look in Chicago, flying banners that read: "We abhor dresses to the floor!'' and ''Women, join the fight for freedom in the manner of dress!".
The Little-Below-The-Knee Club, protesting in 1947
To others however, this symbolised a new freedom to dress as they chose without financial limitations. It was liberating to look and feel extravagant again, minus the guilt! The 1950’s hourglass silhouette flattered all figures and celebrated curves. It continued to evolve throughout the decade to include lower necklines, delicate frills and full skirts that looked fabulous with or without a petticoat. The look was quickly adopted by the high fashions of the rich and worked its way down to working class households. The 1950’s also saw the rise of the American teenager, who became the target audience for fashions such as these, having the time to spare and pocket money to spend. Hollywood stars were the main fashion influencers, dominating the silver screen, red carpet and magazines. Particularly those such Natalie Wood and James Dean in Rebel Without A Cause, whose target audience were young adults.
James Dean and Natalie Wood in Rebel Without a Cause, 1955
Take a quick peek at some of our favourite Timeless London pieces, inspired by the shapes of the 1950's. The first is Candace who is very reminiscent of the famous dress that Marilyn Monroe wore in The Seven Year Itch. A staple piece for any Vintage inspired wardrobe, and she also comes in red!
In our best selling fifties swing dress style, Preston is a beautiful and bold new addition with a gorgeous tropical teal Hawaiian print. The off-shoulder neckline is oh-so sweet, and decorated with light ruching at the bust with a delicate ribbon tie. Perfect for the Spring and Summer months!
Take a look at the rest of our flared dresses here! Which 'short history' would you like us to feature next time?
Timeless London x