What Are the Different Types of 1950s Vintage Clothes?

Christina Edwards
Christina Edwards
Man in a 1950s leather jacket.
Man in a 1950s leather jacket.

By today's standards, 1950s vintage clothes would be considered quite conservative, but it was also a time for change. Women, for the most part still wore dresses or skirts, although trousers began to be more acceptable, especially among young people. Men typically wore suits or slacks with button-down shirts, as well as hats. Teenage boys, however, began to wear jeans and t-shirts more often, and a leather jacket often helped complete a rebellious look.

Fitted sheath dresses were especially popular in the 1950's.
Fitted sheath dresses were especially popular in the 1950's.

When most people look at 1950s vintage clothes today, they would view the outfits as quite conservative. Today, for instance, it is not unusual to see men or women wearing jeans or slightly revealing outfits. Although most of the clothing from this decade was somewhat conservative, younger people at this time began to rebel against their parents' ideas of fashion.

Most 1950s vintage clothes for women typically involve dresses or skirts. Fitted sheath dresses were especially popular during this time, as were full skirted dresses. If skirts were worn, they were typically paired with a button-down blouse. Scarves and cardigan sweaters would also often be worn to complete an outfit.

One of the most easily recognizable pieces of 1950s vintage clothing is the poodle skirt. This type of skirt was typically knee length or slightly longer, and it was often made from felt. Poodle skirts were aptly named, since they usually had a poodle applique attached near the hem. Other images were also sometimes used, but poodles were typically the most common. These types of skirts were particularly popular with teenage girls, since the cut of the skirts allowed the material to swirl around them as they danced at sock hops.

Although skirts and dresses are common types of 1950s vintage clothing for women, trousers also began to become somewhat popular. Younger women especially began to wear cropped pants known as peddle pushers or capris, which ended either at mid-calf or just below the knee. These pants were typically worn during recreational activities, however, such as bike riding.

Men's 1950s vintage clothes might also be considered somewhat conservative, compared to men's clothing today. Most men wore suits, or at least slacks and a button-down shirt. A hat was also a common accessory for a man in the 1950s.

Well-mannered teenage boys of this decade also wore slacks and button-down shirts. Some of the more rebellious teenage boys, however, often tried to give off a rugged macho air. Blue jeans and plain t-shirts were common. Black leather jackets are also common types of 1950s vintage clothes, and these were often worn with the collars flipped up.

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Discussion Comments


Twinsets were big in the 50s and early to mid 60s. My mom had several. A twinset is a short-sleeved sweater with a matching long-sleeved cardigan. The advantage was you wore both pieces in the fall and winter, while you wore the short-sleeved piece in the spring and summer.

Watch "Tammy and the Bachelor" or "Blackboard Jungle" to get an idea of what teens actually wore during that time, and any episode of "I Love Lucy" to see how women were dressing during the time. Lucille Ball always had great clothes for that show.


I always thought poodle skirts were kind of ubiquitous 50s fashion, but they weren't. It was kind of regional. They were more popular in the Northeast, and on the West Coast. Most girls in the South and Midwest didn't wear them. They wore flared skirts, but also wore cotton dresses, often belted in the middle, or straight skirts.

Loafers were more popular than saddle oxfords, although you did see both.

Evening dresses were beautiful, full skirted frothy concoctions that were feminine and even though often strapless, weren't that revealing. Something was left to the imagination.

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    • Man in a 1950s leather jacket.
      By: auremar
      Man in a 1950s leather jacket.
    • Fitted sheath dresses were especially popular in the 1950's.
      By: czamfir
      Fitted sheath dresses were especially popular in the 1950's.