After WWII, fabric rationing was a thing of the past. As a result, women’s as well as men’s fashions featured fuller silhouettes, reflecting a prosperity and abundance not seen in the narrower fashions of the previous war-torn decade. Women’s fashions continued to feature form fitting dresses, but also introduced the wasp silhouette: an ample bust, narrow waist, and full skirt accentuated by structured foundation garments. Men’s fashion likewise featured more generous cuts, evidenced by longer suit jackets and roomier, pleated pants. There was an emphasis on uniformity and conforming to a standardized look. Thus, silhouettes did not vary greatly, and variety was found in fabrics, prints, and accessories.
The People’s History provides excellent examples of fashion from the 1950s and 1955 specifically.
Here, Warner’s 1955 Le Gant lingerie ad tells women they can eat shortcake AND be a fashion plate, all with the right foundational garments, to add inches where they count, and subtract them where they don’t!
This panel of 1950s women’s fashions is helpful in that is show silhouettes ranging from narrow figures to maternity fashion to a full skirted house dress, to a formal evening gown.
KATHA and ELLEN wear gloves on their trips to the Authenticity Committee Meetings. Here is a Glove Etiquette Guide on how to wear gloves properly in public in the 1950s.
Here, Jockey instructs men that it’s “in style to be comfortable.”
BEAUTY and GROOMING PRODUCTS
In 1955 women and men were also expected to maintain high standards of personal grooming. As a result, the personal care and beauty industry enjoyed huge growth in the postwar era, a time when more people could afford to indulge in self care and personal appearances.
Here, Dorothy Gray Salon uses fear tactics to encourage women to purchase their facial crème: your husband may leave you if you don’t maintain your youthful beauty!
Personal care wasn’t just a woman’s concern. Here, men are encouraged to maintain their grooming in order to attract the attention of beautiful women.