What Did People Wear to Parties in the 50s?

by Samantha Cummings

While poodle skirts were a 50s dress style, they were less common than most believe.

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The 1950s saw changes in fashion and style, borrowing heavily from Hollywood. Clothing was mass-produced, and for the first time, men and women were able to purchase designer-inspired clothing at a reasonable price. Party clothing for women was feminine and pretty while men traditionally wore conservative suits in muted colors.

Conservative Party Clothes for Men

Despite popular belief, most men in the 50s didn't dress like Fonzie from the television show "Happy Days." Styles were a little more conservative, typically including dark blue, gray or black slacks. Cardigan sweaters were popular, as were pocketed vests. Men weren't considered "dressed" unless they were donning a hat, typically felt, and usually derby-style.

Casual Party Clothes for Women

The 50s woman borrowed her style from Hollywood. Most afternoon and evening dresses featured fitted bodices with slightly flowing skirts. The skirts typically reached to about mid-calf. Many dresses featured decorative bows at the back of the waist, which further accentuated the small waist while boasting the curves of the breast and hip.

Formal Party Clothes for Women

If the affair was more formal, the dress was longer, usually reaching the floor. Thin spaghetti straps were popular, as were strapless gowns with fitted bodices. Many women wore "fantasy"-style dresses with elaborate decoration and large, flowing skirts. These were the dresses of choice for formal occasions like the prom.

50s Party Accessories

Shawls were popular among women of the 50s, and many women would go so far as to wear a mink stole with their gowns. Many formal occasions called for gloves that reached the wrist or elbow, and small clutch purses.

Photo Credits

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About the Author

Samantha Cummings is a freelance writer with more than five years of experience, and is co-owner of Priceless Writers, LLC. She enjoys writing feature articles, sales letters and blog posts, and is a contributor to several niche websites and 'green' websites and blogs.