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1950-60 Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Kennedy years, Marilyn Monroe and Mad (Wo)Men Fashions and Styles

So there you have an excitement about fashion and style since the World War II is over, the Korean War is over, and America is helping to rebuild Europe and Asia from the effects of the bombings. The soldiers are back home, women are now voting, the various ethnic communities are demanding a rightful place in this new prosperity which seems to be all across America. Those families who were interned in camps as well as veterans demanded an education, a house with a yard, economic and artistic freedom.

Cities and towns are building downtown department stores, which drew people from all over the countryside similar to a magnet. Factories are making all types of merchandize and the shelves and racks have numerous choices now for shoppers, the rationing is over.

Everyone got dressed up to go “downtown” and shop, go to a movie, eat in a restaurant or diner. Pharmacies had soda and ice cream stands for teenagers to hang out, listen to music on a juke box and eat ice cream and drink milk shakes and egg creams.

The style for dressing up varied according to styles and tastes of the individual and also the occasion. There was however a pressure from the elders who had survived both the Depression and also the world wars for a person to conform to a Dressing Code.

Overcoat and hat matched. Out in public you wore the overcoat, in addition to the dress or suit. For most women and children, dresses or blouses and skirts were the code. Schools had major dress codes for children, and girls could not wear pants to school. Purses and shoes matched. Girls wore white bobby socks with mary jane shoes and white cotton gloves out in public.

The architecture of the garments were loose fitting and the shape was A line. Triangular top to bottom. Blouses were simply cut with circular collars – peter pan collars. There were also turtleneck blouses and sweaters. Eyebrows raised if the sweater was too close fitting.

The waist line was defined in some dresses and then the skirts were full and flouncy to exaggerate the bust line, only slightly altering the same A line feel of the moment. Of course in Hollywood, the famous styling for Marilyn Monroe shocked the elders and was considered sexually provocative. The styling was exciting and some women dressed in this fabulous way, a totally different styling and architecture for the body. Usually these dresses were more formal.  Party dressing or gala dressing took off at this time.

Wonderful new fabrics were utilized, now that the fabric manufacturers could focus upon the population. Also new  trade routes were reopened and brocades, tapestries, velvets, silks and other luxury fabrics were available, couture could design again for the formal gala events.

Wedding gowns as we know them today were designed and worn again in the gala style as compared to weddings often during the war which were simple white day dresses with fancy buttons.

Blue jean material was generally work clothes material and would not have been readily styled for social situations nor worn in the Downtown events on weekends.

And finally most restaurants with cloth tablecloths had dress codes for customers. Men had to  be dressed in a suit with a tie, or jacket and tie. Women had to be dressed in dress or skirt and blouse, and checked the overcoat with the coat check before entering the dining room.  This was the exception, that women could wear their fur jackets or stoles into the dining room. Many of the women wore their hats while eating. Who wants hat hair while eating and looking great.

The men usually checked their hats with the overcoats with the coat check woman at the entrance.

In most restaurants and hotels you had to take your purse for the following two important reasons: you were not allowed, or it was frowned upon to do your lipstick or check your makeup at the table; you had to tip the attendant who handed you the towel to dry your hands in the bathroom.

Well dear reader, please enjoy the following photographs of fashions from Vintage Mirage and come try on some wonderful Mint Condition and Authentic outfits and accessories from this wonderful era.

Happy Vintage Shopping. Elinor Coleman

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