The fashion for women during the 1950's was only just reemerging due to the war, it was also the first time the term teenager was properly introduced. Teens and college students adopted skirts and sweaters as virtual uniform. This resulted in the American fashion industry target teenagers as a specialized market.
The 50's were the first time that tops were seen without shoulder pads. Along with the pencil skirts and suit jackets, many accessories such as gloves and pearls became very popular.
The book 'Fifties Forever' has been a real help, containing many useful references to get our characters just right with regards to their outfits and style.
As stated before it was the dresses and suit dresses that were popular during the 50's, also jumpers were popular among women. Ankle length skirts with blouses tucked in were another popular outfit, especially with the younger women.
I'm interested in the younger girls dresses in this book as they offer the idea of innocence, with brighter colours and usually covered with flowers or some sort of pattern over them. The dresses in the reference below could be really helpful in giving our main character that innocent look.
Men's fashion during the 50's centred around suits, with the shoulders also losing the broadness and padding and being replaced with single - breasted two piece suits with rounder shoulders and more lines. The teddy boys were the main advertisement for these styles, with some slight changes, such as different colour collars, bootlace neck ties and colourful socks.
Snazy jumpers and shirts were a big part of the casual wear for men during the 50's, obviosuly the smart look is more recognisable with the 50's but the casual outfits should not be forgotten, especially if we may want some of characters to look a little bit scruffy, or for the younger men who's outfits were a lot more relaxed.
I know the shoes probably arent a big issue as we wont really see the charcters feet in that much detail, but men's shoes in this time were important and stood out. Along with suits, cardigans could be one of the most important male clothing item due to how recognisable it was. If you wore a cardigan at high school you were usually associated with a sports team. Which would then mean you were popular and possibly a bully.
There were many stars from the 50's that influenced fashion and were the main leaders of it.. Below are just a few movie and singing stars that contributed towards the world of fashion during this time.
Audrey Hepburn: British actress who wore many Hubert de Givenchy dresses that made her such a popular style icon in 50's and still to this day.
Buddy Holly: One of the most influential Rock and Roll artists of all time. Had his own fashion style that resulted in the new name given to the young people of the 50's 'teenager' going crazy about it. Even today you can see his style coming back, the 'geek chic'. The skinny ties, cardigans, preppy jumpers were all the rage for teens.
Another key point to look at is the hair styles of men during this time. The older men tended to go for a smart, slick cut, whereas the younger boys and men were more adventurous. Similar to that of Buddy Holly, and Elvis Presley.
Cary Grant: Leading male actor of the time, smart slick hair.
Elvis Presley: One of the worlds most famous singers, during his younger days his hair was crazy and all over the place.
To get an even stronger understanding of how people dressed durign the 50'si have selected a few films that show a good reference of outfits.
Singing In The Rain (1952)
Back to the future (1985)
Rebel Without A Cause (1955)