A Guide to 1950s Vintage Dresses

A Guide to 1950s Vintage Dresses

Why are we still so in love with vintage dresses?!
Dresses through past decades have inspired us and empowered us.  Their power to turn heads never fails us. From the bum freezing lengths of the 60s to the sparkling floor sweepers of the 70s these dresses captured the moods of their time perfectly.

Yet we can still wear them in a modern way and mix the styles of the past with newer items to keep their magic alive.  If history has taught us anything it’s that fashion is a never ending cycle.  So here is our first of our favourite decades, the 1950s, and why their iconic dresses have etched themselves indelibly on our consciousness.

Beyond Retro Vintage 1950s Dress Guide Pattern

Dresses styles of the 1950s 
The 50s offered a world free of the pressures of war and with the end of clothes rationing came the opportunity to create new and exciting silhouettes 
- Tight, high waists were reinvented and hems dropped well below the knee into voluminous, free flowing dresses. 

Beyond Retro 1950s Dress Guide

- Bright playful hard wearing cotton prints added a new joy to day dresses that flattered all sizes. Lancashire’s Horrockses print mills designed some of the most desirable fabrics around.
Wiggle dresses poured round 50s shapes to create a silhouette that appeared moulded to feminine curves.
- Endless layers of soft tulle created wonderful spaghetti strapped and strapless prom dresses in delicious pastel colours. Perfect for being swept around the floor at ever more popular formal dances.

Beyond Retro 1950s Vintage Dress Guide Wiggle Dresses
5 dress icons of the 1950s

Queen of the halterneck, Marilyn personified the power of a full skirt when she dropped a billion jaws in her infamous street vent scene in The 7 Year Itch.
Beyond Retro 1950s Dress Guide Marilyn Monroe
Jayne Mansfield.
Wiggling into the silver screen for the first time in 1957, Jayne Mansfield set hearts racing in the Little Richard scored The Girl Can’t Help It. Here’s one example of her ability to master every 1950s style dress.
Beyond Retro Vintage 1950s Dress Guide Jayne Mansfield

‘The New Look’. The shape that kickstarted a literal revolution. Britons took to the papers to complain about the flagrant use of fabrics when they were still observing clothes rationing. It mattered little. Richard Avedon’s images of these groundbreaking hourglass figures instantly inspired desire and envy into every woman who saw them. They still do.

Beyond Retro 1950s Vintage Dress Guide Dior New Look

Sophia loren
This Italian beauty knew how to carry the strappy 1950s style dress with unrivalled grace. We also love this picture of her hirsute underarms and powerful sexuality. Strong and unapologetic.
Beyond Retro 1950s Vintage Dress Guide Sophia Loren
Billie Holiday
One of the most talented LGBTQ+ women of colour, Billie looked amazing always. Her formal, promlike dresses and her worldwide visibility inspired a whole generation of black youth.
Beyond Retro 1950s Vintage Dress Guide Billie Holiday
How to wear 1950s style dresses now.
- Light and airy 50s wrapover and halter style dresses are a perfect choice for hot summer months.
- Team them with comfy sandals for the park or a pair of DMs to add a punch.
- Add a washed out denim jacket to those prom fancies like Agyness Dean
- Lily Allen is always there to remind us that vintage 1950’s dress confections still look cute with a pair of box-fresh Nike Air Max.

Want to learn more about iconic vintage dresses? Check out Our Guide to 60s dresses and Our Guide to 70s dresses here

Disco style party outfits

Party Season Inspiration From Studio 54

Party season is well underway and there's no better inspiration for vintage party wear than the infamous Studio 54.

The former nightclub located at 254 West 54th Street, bang in between Eighth Avenue and Broadway in Manhattan, was the pinnacle of 70's hedonism.

World famous for it's beyond imaginatively themed parties where everybody from postmen and retail assistants would be rubbing shoulders to disco tunes with celebrities and the incredibly wealthy, granted you were dressed fabulously enough to get past the lucrative doormen.

One time Bianca Jagger even rode in across the dance floor on a white horse - totally iconic! 

How To Get The Look


1970s style glamour


With December being the time for celebrating, whether it be your work Christmas party or New Year's Eve with your very best friends, there's no doubt that it's time to dress to impress and this year we're fully inspired.

Channelling our inner diva, we're into velvet dresses under 70s shearling coats in every colour and statement accessories or shimmering hosiery to match.

It's time to get on your dancing shoes and the higher the heel the closer to God. We recommend the biggest platform shoes known to mankind because le freak, c'est chic. 


Party season style inspiration


Not only does layering up to protect you from the bitter cold (seriously, it's minus two degrees at the time of writing this) but it gives you more of a chance to show off your look and exquisite styling skills. Throw a glamorous jacket over a sparkly vintage roll neck, a silk scarf over a retro jumper or even a raunchy fishnet body under a flared leg jumpsuit. Even making an entrance in a striking faux fur jacket for extra fabulousness wouldn't go amiss. After all, you can always ditch it in the cloakroom when things start hotting up. 


Party outfits

✨Shop party tops ✨

Whilst Studio 54 unfortunately closed down forever following the owner's arrest over tax evasion, it's still possible to party like we're there.

Although arriving on an animal is probably more hassle than it's worth, it's almost necessary to go all out just to keep the spirit of the outrageous venue alive. 

Gold sequined dress

✨ Shop the perfect NYE look ✨

Still in need of desperate party outfit inspo?
Head to our website and discover a whole universe of vintage goodies, ready for both party times and chilling out at home in front of Netflix the next day with a hangover. Don't worry, we've all been there. 

Photographer: Greg Bailey 
Make up: Evie Eden 
Styling/Direction: Charlotte Lewis
Assistants:Mary Costello + Hatti Rex
Models: Chanel Ava Theo