Of all the beautiful culture to come out of vintage America, the most infamous is undoubtedly fashion and the fashion trends. Nothing else can capture the ethos of an era, as well as style, does. By looking at the designs and fashion trends of the past, we can gain insight into the social issues, values, attitudes, preferences, and many other qualities of a period.
Fashion mimics society. It is an art form that lives, grows, and dies with the people. Potently nostalgic, it is a direct link to bygone times. However, not all fashion stays in the past. Modernity frequently takes inspiration from what has come before, and aesthetic preferences from the past resurge into the present – making their way into popular culture once again. In honour of the timeless waxing and waning of fashion trends from the past, we’ve put together a list of 10 classic looks from the fabulous 50s that we love and want to see more of in 2018.
Courtesy of Forever 21
The Bomber Jacket
The bomber jacket doesn’t ever seem to fall off. Initially designed for the military, the style quickly found its way to the civilian sector and haven’t left since. A genuinely unisex piece – many style consultants consider bomber jackets a necessity in both feminine and masculine wardrobes. Able to be dressed up or down, they make an excellent outer layer to almost any outfit. They tend to take on the character of whatever they are paired with, making them an easy and quick way to elevate a wide range of outfits without looking like it took a ton of effort.
Courtesy of Lulus
The Day Dress
Iconic and graceful, the day dress was practically the official uniform of women everywhere in the 1950s. Since then, the gloves and the petticoat have been done away with. However, the daytime dress remains an elegant and comfortable way to stay comfortable and look great at the same time. Depending on what look you’re going for, pair either a patterned or a solid colour dress with some heels or understated flats, add some accessories, and be on your way. Because they can be worn in both casual and formal environments, dresses ensure you’re confident and well dressed whether you’re running errands, going to work, or hitting a social event.
Courtesy of Express
The Leather Jacket
Thanks to Danny and Sandy, the leather jacket has become a poster child for the 50s. But thankful for us, this rebellious and edgy look outlived the greasers and is still a viable option today. The great thing about leather jackets is how well they pair with almost anything. You could rock one with jeans and tennis shoes as quickly as you could with a skirt and heels. Picking black or tan leather allows you to capitalise on the texture of the jacket, creating luxurious, layered look that appears nearly effortless to pull off.
Courtesy of Pinterest
The overcoat is another excellent piece of 50s fashion that has continued to be popular throughout history, even into the modern era. They make the list because they are both functional and stylish – a way to stay warm when the weather turns and still look excellent. Another one of the unisex pieces in the list, overcoats are an easy way to take a simple outfit to the next level. Longer coats have a naturally classy look, and look luxurious whether worn casually or professionally. Take your time shopping for one, as there are dozens of variants of colours, materials, lengths and styles.
Courtesy of Modcloth
The Oxford Flat
Worn since the early 1800’s The Oxford is one of the most enduring unisex shoe styles ever conceived. Traditionally worn only with dress attire, oxfords have evolved to the point they can now be worn casually as well. Available in a staggering number of variations, you should be able to find exactly what you want regarding colour, material and style. Many modern oxfords feature patterns or other fun variations that when chosen wisely, can expertly accent an outfit and showcase your personality all at once. The savvy shopper should be able to find a pair of these that function as a dress shoe and can be worn in less formal attire, making them a smart addition to any wardrobe.
Courtesy of Shein
The Circle Skirt
Insanely popular throughout the entirety of the 50s, skirts were a massive part of the fashion landscape. In fact, poodle skirts are probably the single most recognisable piece of 50s fashion. In those days, long calf-length dresses were the trend, and the more voluminous a skirt was, the better. Now, the effort on volume is absent, and skirts of all lengths are viable options. Longer skirts should be saved for more refined events and activities, but knee length and above the knee skirts can be worn to virtually any occasion. Different patterns and pairings determine how casual or high brow the look is, so shop around and play with some different combinations to find your favourite.
Courtesy of Nordstrom
The Sun Hat
For a significant enhancement to any summer look, take a page from the ladies of the 1950s’ book and add a sunhat. With its popularity shifting up and down through the generations since sunhats are starting to emerge once again as a major trend. Available in every imaginable colour, material and size, you will certainly be able to find one perfect for you. If you need some direction, consider getting one made from straw or seaweed. They have a lush, organic look that is perfectly neutral and can be worn with literally any outfit or bathing suit, regardless of gender. Plus, if anything happens to it while you’re out, you can easily replace it without breaking the bank.
Courtesy of Asos
The Waist Belt
Another ridiculously favourite item from vintage America, the waist belt use to be primarily matched with dresses and skirts. Now, they have adapted and can be seen in a broad spread of different outfits and styles. They are a unique and eye-catching way to turn a basic outfit into something creative and personalised. Pay attention to the material and the thickness, and consider what kind of look you’re trying to achieve before you make your selection. Browse through some galleries online to see how current fashion is putting the waist belt to work and get inspired by designs of your own.
Courtesy of Nostalgiaville USA
The Saddle Shoe
Ah yes, the saddle shoe. Saying that these were popular in vintage America would be the understatement of the century. Every man women and child around had a pair of saddle shoes, especially in the 50s. Created as a sports shoe, they quickly became popular first on the dance floor and as everyday footwear as well. As time progressed, saddle shoes became available in every conceivable colour combination and material. The elegant, simplistic design creates a contrast that naturally draws the eye and is sure to attract attention. These shoes were so fashionable that they even became a school uniform requirement in a host of schools. They remain an excellent choice today, due to the wide variety of colour combinations and materials. A saddle shoe is at its best paired best with jeans.
Courtesy of Nostalgiaville USA
The Pink Ladies Jacket
Taking second place only to the T Birds, the Pink Ladies reached celebrity status thanks to the play (and later movie) Grease. Marked by their unmissable Pink Ladies jacket, the pink ladies were a real gang of girls who eventually became an iconic part of 50s gang culture. Paying homage to some of the toughest girls to ever grace the streets of Chicago, the nostalgic quality of this piece is sure to be appreciated by anyone familiar with the era. Whether used for a Halloween costume, theme party, or even as streetwear, this piece is perfect for retro fashion newbies and enthusiasts alike.
This guest post was thanks to the excellent teams at Nostalgiaville and Powerfull Outreach. You can access all these lovely people (and buy some kick-butt vintage products) at the Nostalgiaville store.
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