How Did People Dress in the 1950s?

American women wore skirts, dresses, hats and gloves during the 1950s, while men primarily wore suits, sweaters, slacks and uniforms for work. In the 1950s, young boys and girls emulated the fashion styles of their parents. Girls' clothing featured styles identical to those of older women; boys' clothing, similarly, mirrored styles of attire for adult men.

American clothing styles, especially for women, saw significant changes with the end of World War II and arrival of the 1950s. The American economy slowed during the war and average family incomes fell, leaving Americans fewer choices in styles, colors and fabrics. The 1950s, however, ushered in an era of excess and celebration. In the world of fashion, the jovial spirit brought indulgent materials like wool, nylon and leather, bold and bright colors and less conservative styles.

Women's clothing included petticoats, sassy pink, pleated and plaid skirts, and collared blouses. Women's clothing emphasized the classic female hourglass shape. Figure enhancing attire, such as bras, corsets and girdles, helped women achieve a desirable figure. Clothing for men and women varied depending on activity: work, leisure and social functions. Men wore military-style clothes to work, as well as suits and slacks. Work uniforms, maternity wear and party outfits arrived on the fashion scene for women. Outside the home, women always wore hats and gloves.