This blog post is the second of three themed blogs on fashion history from the 40s, 50s and 60s.
Mature i 50s continued to pay homage to the soft, feminine forms. It was also in this decade that the hourglass silhouette that Christian Dior had recreated in 1947 with the New Look collections really became the ideal in the fashion industry, especially personified by Hollywood icon Marilyn Monroe.
50s fashion was incidentally influenced by the Rock'n'Roll culture and the new generation, the 'teenagers'!
New Look and hourglass figure without the use of the cross
After World War II, the fashion world changed again, with Christian Dior in front. The hourglass silhouette emerged, as a tribute to life and 'the return to sophistication'. It was not long before Dior's ultra feminine cut was copied by designers and tailors around the world - despite the outrage that Chanel had commented on his look, as mentioned in our blog about the 40s - read it HERE.
However, the women did not return to the corsets that Chanel had feared because they instead started using a new type of lingerie made of elastic mesh to create a slimmer waist. The new material provided greater freedom of movement than the stiffened corsets, enabling women to still work and be active while maintaining their femininity and vanity in the beautiful new look dresses!
The 'girdle' became the modern cross. It should be rolled on and off, and therefore not fastened with laces or hooks. However, there were also other lingerie inventions that were supposed to help create the hourglass figure - one of the more fun was the blow-up bra seen in the picture below. The bra was simply filled with air through a small pump to make the bust look bigger!
As the designs of the dresses evolved, the hourglass silhouette was based on the female curves, and designs with waist-cut cuts and V-necklines have been popular ever since, precisely because they specifically emphasize the female body and create a flattering silhouette, focusing on all shapes and sizes. body type.
The development of the hourglass silhouette in the various trends of the 50s
During 50s the hourglass silhouette evolved in different ways so that it became possible to create it with its everyday wear. However, there were two dominant forms of the hourglass silhouette: the effervescent and the close-fitting. The roaring one was the classic one with a very full swing skirt, and the close-fitting one was the close-fitting pencil skirt that stopped at the knees. Characteristic of both, however, was that the waist was narrow and marked and the chest / shoulders and hips were highlighted with fullness. However, it was also possible to create the tight-fitting hourglass silhouette with a pair of high-waisted capri pants or jeans.
The Sweater Girl Look
The name 'Sweater Girls' came into being in the 40's, when Hollywood actresses like Lana Turner, Jayne Mansfiels and Jane Russel started wearing the tight sweaters over their pointed "bullet bras". In the 40s it was a 'shocking look', but in the 50s it became a popular look, especially among the younger generation. The tight sweaters, with short or long sleeves, went to the waist and were worn the same with a high-waisted skirt, a pair of high-waisted trousers or jeans. For the younger generation, the strict tops were most often simple solid color or perhaps with a contrasting color on the rib edges. For the older generation, there were decorations on the sweaters such as pearls and embroidery.
Photo: Jayne Mainsfield in sweater and high-waisted trousers
Early 50s look: Swing dress
For a classic, early 50s look à la Dior's, the swing dress is a must have! The classic 'New look dress' is waist-cut with a full swing skirt, and the top has an often a detailed neckline that focuses on the bust and makes it fuller.
You can emphasize the silhouette further, with a belt at the waist as well as with a petticoat underneath.
A petticoat is a full-bodied petticoat, built of several layers of soft tulle, which gives extra volume at the bottom of the skirt - the more volume on the skirt, the less the waist seems!
Image: Swing dress from Dior's 'New Look' collection
One of our swing favorites is the Hourglass dress from The Pretty Dress Company. It is a perfect example of a modern new look dress that creates the ultimate hourglass silhouette on all body types! The hourglass dress is available in several colors - and even in a pencil version, if you are more into the tight-fitting hourglass silhouette!
Another of our swing favorites is the classic 50s style dress from Unique Vintage . This is also a waist-cut swing dress with small, half-length sleeves, flattering pleats over the bust and a full skirt. This dress is one of our bestsellers, due to the delicious stretch material that gives the perfect fit for all figures and we wear it in size small - 4xlarge!
From American Heart Of Haute also has some very popular models, namely Milan, Monte Carlo as well as Beverly. They are in a super nice and very time-typical cut with a marked waist, and then they are in a beautiful material that falls beautifully and does not curl.
50s Swing skirts
In extension of the swing dress, another indispensable garment from the 50s is the iconic swing skirt. This was undoubtedly inspired by Dior's 'New Look' collection, but a real 'circle skirt' was sewn from a large circle (hence the name) and preferably with different kinds of applications. Here, 'The puddle skirt' was the most famous swing skirt, and the idea asked this type of DIY skirts was that no one was alike.
Maybe a creative idea in these times where most of us are 'homemakers'?
We have different types of skirts in the 50s style, i.a. the beautiful button-down skirts with attached pockets from Hear Of Haute. We currently have these. in three different colors (two are seen below).
And then of course we have the classic 50s swing skirts. Those from i.a. from Daisy Dapper in navy blue and red, in addition to the black one seen below.
Mid / Late 50s look: Pencil Dress
The late 50s look was characterized by tailored dresses and skirts. The dresses were usually sleeveless, or with a very short sleeve that just covered shoulders. Or they have half or 3/4 long sleeves. The waist was marked and length was to just below the knee. At the back there were slits to make the dresses move in - it was simply a necessity as they were so tight.
The sexy wiggle or pencil dress is the ultimate dress for the 50s pinup! Here the whole figure is framed by a tight-fitting dress that highlights all the shapes!
Photo: Marilyn Monroe in costume test for the movie 'Niagara'
Billion Dollar Baby dress from Stop Staring! is a fantastic dress with small sleeves with a small pouf, wrap-twist in the bust and a nice slit at the back, for better movement, which is also helped along the way by the delicious stretch material. The dress highlights the whole figure without really showing skin, which makes it suitable for many occasions, whether it is the business meeting, the annual party or something completely different! Below you see it in red and black, but we also have it in navy blue, purple and white.
From Zoe Vine we also have several pencil dresses in the 50s style. We have the turquoise blue with short sleeves and 'sweetheart' neckline, the black with a time-typical collar and the simple navy blue with 3/4 long sleeves. And many more!
50s Pencil Skirts
The narrow pencil also called the 'wiggle' skirt saw the light of day with Dior's 'H-line' collection in 1954. The 'H' refers to the cut with the parallel lines. The skirt sat down over the hips and went inwards down towards the knees. The skirt had a slit at the back, to make it possible to move in the skirt. However, it was still very narrow, hence the name 'wiggle', as it made women 'wiggle' when they walked.
The skirt became a regular part of the woman's wardrobe since the mid - 50s.
Photo: Marilyn Monroe in wiggle skirt
Mondo Kaos' selection of 50s clothing
The Committee of 50s clothes in Mondo Chaos is big and you will find clothes inspired by different 50's trends like 'New look', Grease, Pinup, Rockabilly etc ..
Our selection of classic pencil and swing dresses includes dresses with and without sleeves, different types of necklines such as scoop, sweetheart and deep v and they are available in a wealth of beautiful colors and prints. Our seperates include flattering pencil and swing skirts, gorgeous capri pants and jeans and tops with strategic cutouts that give extra attention to the bust!
If you are missing an outfit that gives you the beautiful hourglass silhouette, then you can find it here.
Team Mondo Kaos ♥
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