There was nothing too revolutionary or out of the box for women’s fashion of the 1950s! There is only one silhouette; the hourglass, and it was shown off in either form fitting clothes or exaggerated shapes made with the help of petticoats, corsets, and brasiers. Although its design is based off of a menswear staple, the shirtwaist dress’ emphasis on the waist, small rounded shoulders, and the bust is anything but masculine. Both casual and dressy versions of the shirtwaist dress were staples in a woman’s closet from the time Dior introduced the “New Look” silhouette in 1947. 1950s shirtwaist dresses were worn with petticoats underneath to increase the skirt’s volume, and girdles to make the waist even smaller, creating a very dramatic look. They could also be worn more casually without any petticoat, such shirtwaists were referred to as house dresses.
The sexier option for women’s dress was the wiggle or pencil skirt. The shape of the wiggle skirt is high and tight pleated waist, form fitting through hips, and slightly tapered through the knee. Cardigan sweaters have never really been out of style because they’re so practical, but in the 1950s cardigans became a staple since they could be worn well with any style skirt. Cardigans became more decorative and elaborate with lots of beading details, specialty buttons, and designs. Helen Bond Carruthers and Bonnie Cashin were two designers who were known for their show stopping cardigans.