Clothes and Fashions
of the 1950's and 60's Men and Women
Over the years fashion has drastically evolved. Although when taking a looking back you being to see how each year influenced the next.
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 1950's were housewives and the baby boom. While the fashion marketing began to gear towards women.
How Did Men Dress?
Many of the working men in the 50's were businessmen, due to their professions majority of men wore suits with matching ties and occasionally fedoras. When it came to formal occasions suits would be hung up for a tuxedo, finishing it off with the 'oh so popular' short combed over hair, executed in both work and play looks.
How Did Women Dress?
After the war, women were excited to show off their feminine side once again. Women had a lot to wear because fashion was staring up at this time, both clothing manufacturing and prices were cheaper. Like the men sticking to their suit and ties the women (majority being housewives) mainly wore skirts and dresses, the more patterns the better! Depending on the occasion formal or party wise, women would turn to evening gowns and the fancier the dress depended on your destination. As for hair, usually in styles such as an up do, ponytail, or notorious curls. Due to cosmetics becoming popular around this time as well, women began to turn to make up as an accessory in order to make themselves more presentable.
1950's Women's Figure and Silhouette
When the two distinct figures 'gamine' and 'hourglass' were surfaced, undergarments filled the lingerie departments.
The Ideal 50's Women Look
In Mike Browns 1950 Look, he describes the ideal shape “The largest part of the bust should equal the largest part of the hips and the waist should be ten inches smaller than either.That means that with a 36 inch bust, ideally the largest part of your buttocks should measure 36 inches and your waist should be 26 inches.” With that women began putting themselves in all types of restrictive garments trying to achieve the so called 'feminine' look. He then went on to say "Every woman or girl, no matter how thin, should wear a girdle! Our finest designers insist that even their slimmest models must wear girdles. Wear a pantie girdle if you are slender, a pantie girdle with an open crotch if you are heavier; or a girdle with boning if you are overweight! Your figure will look more youthful and you will protect your breasts from sagging by wearing a brassiere and girdle and not a one piece garment.” women 'did as they were told', and fabrics began to change making girdles more tolerable. As for silhouettes there was no more shoulder padding, still wide but softer in order to emphasize her waist and hips.
The decade of the 1960's were a little more confusing due to the drastic change within that decade from styles, fashion, and who popular fashion was directed toward.
1960's Style Overview
During the early part of the decade was where fashion was still conservative, it's when it hit the mid-60's when things began to change for men and women. Until this time fashion was geared towards adults, this began to change in the 60's when designers started focusing on youth taste and preferences. Clothing prices for youth were now affordable and open to the public. The end of 1960's was also where the hippie movement began.
Just like the women, the men fashion was immensely changed over the decade.Pants became tighter and men around the thighs were little to no space and men began to 'get use' to it, ounce they were skinny they had to take it a step further and create the flare of the pants towards the bottom, almost anything that looked straight from London was considered fashion in the 60's. As for hair it began to grow longer, and to top it all off a pair of boots along with a hat if necessary. Towards the end of the 60's is when wearing scarfs for men also became popular almost used as a substitute for a tie.
Around 1966 is when you can see the change in looks, they became more sleek and modern, while lines became cleaner and more form-fitted. Less fur but still the need for gloves, majority of fashion trends were taking from London. Polyester was a very common material and skirts were short. Women were no longer 'embarrassed' to show their stuff in public. Patterns and colors became even more detailed and bright and at certain point even the waistline disappeared.
During the early 60's is when two piece suits for women with pencil skirts were quite popular but as the decade progressed the defined waistline, began to diminish. Tight fitting outfits were thrown away for loose garments that hung off the body, the dropped waistline became stylish again but this time both dresses and skirts became shorter. Towards the end of the decade into the hippie movement clothing was more free moving going a long with the social mindset at the time.
Taking A Step Back
When comparing the two decades of the 50's and 60's there are both many similarities and differences. Both decades were easily influenced to change themselves completely which is not to different from the fashion world today, now though we have more freedom, option, and different taste. Women are usually the focusing with both decades but bent backwards just to get what they thought was 'the look' and it goes to show just how quick things change and how much of a change as well, society and media have their ways of getting into peoples ears and it's working we basically do it to ourselves. The 50's and 60's are an amazing example of what someone would do to 'fit in' though those times are over they can still be seen in today's fashion, little tricks designers use and majority of the inspiration are from the 1950's and 1960's men and women's fashion.
By Nana Agyepong-Ntra