50s Fashion for Women: Style Guide & Outfit Ideas

Are you looking for new and fresh outfit ideas and inspiration? Here’s a good suggestion you might find exciting: Why not turn to the past and seek out some of the best 50s Fashion for women ideas?

As the famous and overused saying goes - age is just a number. That is especially true if you’re out there looking for fantastic 50s outfit ideas to try and spice up your wardrobe and style!

After all, countless timeless styles and looks from this period are just waiting to be re-worn again!

Now, if this style is something you’re willing to try, continue reading! This style guide should give you plenty of outfit ideas you can try out.

Fashion History: Overview of 50s Fashion for Women

50s Fashion for Women

Fashion in the 50s was incredibly varied, especially since it was a time when movies, television, and magazines introduced new looks and styles to the public.

The fashion trend back then for women was all about fitted and flowing skirts, tight bodices, and high heels. This style aims to bring out a woman’s appeal and charm.

Overall, one can describe the 50s fashion style as well-groomed, smartly-dressed, put-together, and glamorous.

The classic 50s idea of the ‘hourglass figure’ is more sensual and realistic than the newer and more modern fashion time.

They define ‘hourglass’ bodies as tiny waists, rounded shoulders, and full skirts.

Nowadays, having an ideal body means having a slim and stick-thin figure. 

Early‘ 50s Fashion

50s style and looks bridged the gap between the conservative styles of the 1940s and the quirky and fun looks from the 1960s Fashion. Hemlines gradually grew shorter while the waistlines of dresses roamed up and down. Depending on the look they were going for, having a high, low, or no waistline was fashionable!

During the war, women mostly wore masculine garments. The ‘new look’ in 50s Fashion mainly was to depart from the cold look women adopted during the war.

Whether a woman worked in a factory or office, their looks and clothes need to be simple and practical. No one was allowed to give a lot of effort into their appearance — not that they would focus on that with the war going on.

After the war, women started embracing their femininity in the 1950s. Women began wearing prettier and more stylish clothes again. Fashion evolved from wartime, practical garments to more colorful and fun clothing. Known fashion icons back then (like Marilyn Monroe) wore girdles around their hips to nip their bellies and waists.

Early 50s style also consisted mainly of tailored tweed dresses, ankle-length dresses, low necklines, and long skirts with petticoats.

Back then, Fashion had more rules and structure than now. Finding women who wouldn’t match their clothes and shoes with their bags, accessories, and hats was hard.

The difference between the 40s and 50s style was vast, which was why a good number of people were against the abrupt shift and change. Some women see the 50s ‘new look’ as impractical and fussy, forcing women to go back to a more decorative role. They see it as a step back, especially since women were already slowly proving their strength and capabilities during the war.

Other women see the change as a new start and an opportunity to embrace their feminine side better. It allowed them to dress prettily without too many restrictions. 

Iconic Fashion Icons from the 50s

The most notable fashion icon from the 50s is Marilyn Monroe! Gentlemen prefer blondes in 1953 launched Monroe’s career. Not only is she the most recognizable Fashion and beauty icon, but she is also known as an international style sensation!

Other unforgettable 50s fashion icons are Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, and Elizabeth Taylor! Like Monroe, they are stunning actresses with impeccable acting skills and stylish wardrobes!

50s Fashion was influenced mainly by the post-WWII era, heavily featuring newer materials to the fashion market like acrylic, nylon, spandex, and polyester.

The period after the war also saw the grand return of fashion designers like Coco Chanel, Cristóbal Balenciaga, and Christian Dior. 

50s Fashion Style and Outfit Ideas for Women 

The 50s fashion style was about clean, tailored, and good grooming looks. These were attributes that were prized and well-loved.

Something about acting and looking ‘lady-like’ makes it appealing, especially after the dreadful fashion of the 40s.

Now, are you looking to take some inspiration from 50s fashion? Here are a couple of ideas that you might like! 

1. Hourglass Dresses

The 50s fashion silhouette is all about hourglass bodies and figures. So, naturally, form-hugging and fit-and-flare dresses were popular and famous back in the day. You can wear a cute, simple dress with a flattering fit to show off your curves. 

Wearing girdles and corsets was common in the 50s, primarily to create the illusion of a thinner and slimmer waist. Pair the style with a large straw hat and color-matching heels to finish your look! 

2. Smart-Casual


In the 50s, women often dressed ‘smartly’ as well. Doing so helps create the image of an educated and well-mannered lady. Pairing a white, patternless, long-sleeved blouse with a curve-hugging black skirt will give off the ‘smart and independent woman’ look.

It gives you a sophisticated aura, and this style can also help you feel more confident in your body and clothes. An ideal work outfit idea you can try out next week! 

3. The Black Dress

The Black Dress

It seems like in any fashion era, a black dress does not go out of style. A long, classic black dress is timeless and will never fail you - no matter what time you are from! You can wear this dress at any age, whether you are a teenager or over 50!

Make sure to tweak the style as you please. Black is among the easiest colors to match.

You can pair it with almost any color of shoes or hat, and it will still be good! 

4. Fall Fashion 

Fall Fashion

The 50s also have fall fashion!

Like modern fashion, wearing darker and more neutral colors was also a trend in the past. People often avoid wearing vivid and lively colors like pastels and neons at this time of the year.

Instead, most opt for colors that are cool in the eyes, like coffee and taupe. Wearing long sleeves would be a great idea since it is cold during the fall.

You can pair that with a neutral-colored overall, boots, and a hat to complete the look!

5. The Swing Dress

The Swing Dress

Swing dresses were also a trend during the 50s! Back then, if you went down the city street, you would undoubtedly encounter women wearing flowy dresses with flattering A-line shapes.

This style features a dress with a flowy skirt and a top that hugs your chest. Often, there is a belt in the middle to emphasize your waist.

This style is perfect for girl hang-outs or morning brunch with family!  

6. Ivy League Style

Ivy League Style

Ivy League fashion was the early and former iteration of modern preppy style. It was a style that came around in the early 50s when Ivy League universities (like Yale, Princeton, and Harvard) became increasingly known throughout the country.

To adopt a 50s-style Ivy League fashion get-up, throw in a plain white button-down shirt, a plaid coat, and black pants or skirt.

You can wear glasses and neck or bow ties to complete the look! This style is a perfect outfit for your next day of classes!

Other standard wardrobe options for this Ivy League fashion consists of cardigans, sweater vests, khaki pants, plaid skirts, and knee-high socks. 

7. Hint of Victorian

Hint of Victorian

The 50s fashion style did admittedly dip into a more dramatic sphere. Looks for this era were built off Edwardian and Victorian historical influences.

Pair long-sleeved dresses with hand gloves and a Victorian hat to achieve this specific style.

To better feel your outfit, tie your hair in a low, neat bun and wear pearl earrings.

8. Summer Dress

Summer Dress

Summer fashion is all about unapologetic love for light, flowy, and sheer garments! It’s a time to wear vibrant and colorful colors like yellow and red.

Styling an outfit that is light and easy on the body while radiating sophistication and elegance is a great way to welcome the summer!

Choose long, flowy dresses that would carry along with the wind. Opt for a length that goes below the knees for more comfort. You can wear sandals for shoes.

Avoid bodycon and shape-fitting dresses if possible during the summer, as that invites a sweaty disaster. 

9. Bohemian Fit

Bohemian Fit

The bohemian style started around the 50s and 60s. It was primarily popular among hippie travelers, although this style garnered more attention as it became increasingly common in fashion.

Bohemian is a widely recognized fashion style that people use as a theme for various events like parties and weddings!

For a perfect 50s bohemian fit, throw on a white maxi dress with loose long sleeves.

Since this maxi-length dress style is all about being free-spirited and individualistic, you can make the style your own! Throw some boots or sandals, sunglasses, or a cute hat on - the choice is yours!

10. Blazer and Skirt

Blazer and Skirt

If you’re a working adult, a sleek blazer is a non-negotiable essential that must be part of your wardrobe!

Wear one with a long, maxi black skirt to work, and you have a style that would be perfect for work or going out.

11. Classic City Girl

Classic City Girl

Imagine yourself: a high fashion lady roaming the busy city with a head-to-toe perfectly coordinated outfit from the 50s!

Whether going out for coffee with friends or just out window shopping, a simple white A-line dress can make for a fashionable fit.

A complimenting belt wrapped snugly on your waist, a pair of comfortable sandals, and a small hat on your head - now, you are undoubtedly ready for a trip to the city! 

12. 50s Style Vintage Tea Dress

50s Style Vintage Tea Dress

If you think of classic and high-end 1950s, you probably have considered afternoon tea parties.

In this era, dresses for tea parties descended to the mid-shin. It can mean a vintage cream silk A-line flowy dress with a matching elegant purse.

Tea dresses are springtime dresses, often in shades of white, like cream, ivory, eggshell, and snow. Usually, it uses light materials such as linen, cotton, and Swiss dot. 

13. Rockabilly Rebel

Rockabilly Rebel

The rockabilly style came from the 50s pin-up, greaser look. Before, it was all about black and red, tattoos, music, skulls, bandanas, and leopard prints!

Most would think of this style as punk and rock, but did you know you can make it classy?

A black swing dress with a low and plunging neckline can pass for a rockabilly, elegant rebel style!

Doll up with a soft bun, smokey black eyeshadow, and blood-red lipstick for a more edgy vibe.

14. Winter Style 

Winter Style

When the weather turns cold and the wind chilly, dressing up in a 50s style can be challenging.

Most outfit ideas from this era are dresses that expose the legs or short-sleeved tops that give your arms goosebumps. Fortunately, there is a way!

Shrug on a stylish long-sleeved coat over your A-line dress. You can wear gloves, stockings, and a hat to shield your hands, legs, and head from the cold winter air! 

15. 50s Picnic

50s Picnic

Have picnic plans with your family or friends? Try this 50s picnic get-up: a black, sleeveless halter top paired with a long checkered black skirt!

With the long bottom, you don’t have to worry about exposed legs and being uncomfortable!

For accessories, try a pendant necklace with matching earrings and rings. You can wear boots or sandals for your feet. Just make sure they are easy to remove and comfortable to wear.

16. Film Noir Outfit

Film Noir Outfit

A popular style in the 50s is the Film Noir femme fatale look. It consists of a body-flattering black dress, high heels, and a hat that can conceal the face. It’s typically styled with red lips and smokey makeup.

It does not need to be all-black. You can also wear white or grey dresses, accessories, and shoes!

Leave behind the suggestive makeup, and you have a fantastic look for a casual vintage Vixen style! 

17. Vintage Work Clothes

Vintage Work Clothes

A long-sleeve blouse and long skirt can be a great outfit idea for women from the 50s and today.

It is especially ideal for professional women dominating the professional corporate world! You can take it up an extra notch using a stylish satchel bag, fancy heels, and a flattering hairstyle.

Add gloves and a small hat if you want to go for something more classy and sophisticated.

This style fits exceptionally well for modern working gals in the workplace environment. 

18. Going Vintage

Going Vintage

Dresses are your best option if you aim to look and appear vintage. They are the most elegant pieces of clothing and one of the easiest to style.

Foot-length and single-color dresses with embroidered collar should be your top consideration for a vintage look.

19. 50s Fashion for Youngsters

Best For Young Teens

A button-down, two-toned dress is an excellent recommendation for teens trying to get a feel of the past.

A sleeveless and form-flattering top can make them love the 50s style! For accessories, please give them a small hat and cute handbag that matches or compliments their outfit. 

20. Casual 50s Outfit

Casual 50s Clothing

Finally, let’s talk casual!

Usually, people from the 50s opt for cardigans or comfortable sweaters if they are going for a casual look. That should work, but it’s not that different from modern simple fashion.

Wear a long-sleeve button-down white blouse with a round neckline if you want more style. You can pair that with fitted slacks to complete the 50s look! 


There is no need to turn back time to get first-hand experience of the 50s.

Fortunately, you can live through this era by adopting the 50s fashion style! Learn the fashion history of the 1950s and get invested in their interesting outfit trends and ideas.

Were you looking to add a few 50s outfit pieces to your wardrobe? Hopefully, the guide above helped you out!