Welcome to the fifties! It was a return to femininity. During the war women had to be more masculine, because they did more masculine duties. When the war was over, women wanted to feel feminine again and man and women were adopting their traditional roles. This reflects in fashion, with a return to the hourglass figure! Small sloped shoulders, large pointed breasts, a cinched waist and voluptuous hips were the perfect body ideal.
Examples of this body ideal: Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Brigitte Bardot, Sophia Loren and Barbie!
The fifties had three silhouettes:
hourglass (new look ref. Dior)
long and tapered (pencil skirt)
slim and boxy (like the Chanel suite)
Every women wore girdles (underwear) to get this silhouettes. It was sloppy if you didn't wear a girdle! You have to ROLL it over your body, so it was very different from corsets. But they were extremely tide and uncomfortable.
There was also a huge interest in breasts in the fifties. The bigger and more pointy your boobs, the better it was. Some women put on a blow up bra which inflated their boobs!
The designer of the decade was Christian Dior, he launched the new look of the fifties in 1947. After the war, Paris became an obsession as a cultural hotspot and again the center of fashion.
Chanel returned and offered a different, slim and boxy silhouette. The Chanel Cardigan Suite was instantly imitated and knocked-off at every level of retail and for every age of women.
We also have a teenager explosion because of the babyboom! This reflected into fashion. Teenagers wanted to differentiate themselves by wearing the clothes of the group they want to belong too. (Watch the movie 'Grease') The 'good' teenagers (big skirts), the 'Grease' or bad teenagers (jeans, greasy hair and rock'n roll - Elvis Presley) and the 'Beatniks'*.
*'Beatniks' were the Hipsters of their time. They were recognizable by their black turtleneck sweaters, striped tops, skinny pants and a beret (check out Jean Seberg - and her 'gamine hair cut').
Now go have a look at Margo's beautiful illustrations. She will also talk more about makeup of the fifties!
Next time we'll illustrate the sixties! Stay tuned!
Book : Fashion - Volume II (Taschen)