Skirts, suits, dresses & coats: Tips on trends in ’50s fashion (1955)

Women's fashion from 1955 - Styles to wear

Stylish women from the fifties

Clothes talk with our fashion editor

It’s happened at last — fashion grows up this season. Gone is the little-girl look — the doll dress, cinched waist, and crinolines — it’s the woman who is now the darling of designers.

Fashion assumes a quiet dignity and poise in its new adult role, and a gracious formality becomes the measure of good taste. And you’ll find it in clothes at all price levels. Because we think this is a basic change in our whole manner of dress, far more important than just another style, here’s a brief report of the highlights as we see them.

The silhouette grows up

Fluid lines that gently shape the natural body curves are the key to the new silhouette. The torso is elongated and slightly molded to indicate a normal waistline, which is frequently left unbelted.

Skirts are narrower — either perfectly straight or with fullness breaking low or at the back. The whole emphasis is on a narrower and longer look — a refinement and balance of line that slenderizes the figure without exaggeration at any point.

Fashion designs for women October 1955

Suits become costumes

Suits are back as major fashion, but with a definite costume appearance. They show up everywhere — in tweeds and worsteds for daytime, wool broadcloth and heavy silks for dressy evenings, and satins and brocades for formal wear.

Perfect examples are the handsome long-lined tunic-suit and the new three-piecer — skirt, overblouse, and separate three-quarter coat. Sheath dresses become suits or costumes with a variety of companion jackets.

The two-piece suit takes on a ladylike elegance — shoulders narrower, jackets longer. Some are semi-fitted, others loose with cutaway fronts and flat backs.

Dresses change character

Headliners this season are the two-piece overblouse and tunic dresses — the stem-line sheath, the torso dress with its skirt, narrow or full, hung from the hip. Running a close second are the coat dress with a leaner shape and the shirtwaist dress with its skirt cut straight.

Accompanying a simple bodice is an interesting new skirt silhouette, straight and narrow in front and slightly flared in back, which looks very good. Particularly noticeable in all styles is the absence of decoration. Today’s dresses depend on shape, fabric, and color for their importance. High-cut armholes and long tight sleeves, collars, cuffs, and low-placed pockets are other distinguishing features.

Fashion designs for women October 1955

Coats are softer in line

Coats, too, follow the straight-line trend, although they’re cut with ample fullness; and because of the numerous slim skirts in suits and dresses, they are seen in many different lengths. Styling is less severe and the look becomes softer, with the return of large collars and fur trimming. The three most outstanding shapes seem to be the double-breasted plumb-line overcoat, the very slightly fitted reefer, and the barrel-tapered wrap coat.

The new look is adult

There’s more to fashion’s new womanhood than style and silhouette; the whole manner of dressing has changed. We’re wearing hats again. And they’re really hats — the toque, the deep-crowned cloche, the high fez in place of the pillbox, and the sleek fur cap. Gloves are longer, shoes are all line without cluttering detail. Jewelry simulates the real thing and is worn as though it were — one handsome pin replaces yards of rope beads.

Clothes are thoughtfully and harmoniously assembled for a costume appearance, and accessories no longer serve for shock effect but become an integral part of the whole ensemble.

Yes, there’s a sophistication, a poise, and dignity in dress that we find very refreshing. And it’s our guess that certain young ladies we know will be making a quick switch now that it’s good fashion to look adult.

50s fashion - dresses

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