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The collarless Chanel line jacket was hugely popular again in both the s and the s. America in particular bought Chanel's designs in large numbers. Her influence of boxy suits of the fifties has far more bearing on sixties fashion style, than Dior's New Look design. Here are some ready-to-wear versions of those s outfits.
During the s Dior showed his H, A, and Y lines. The H-line of was a slender tunic suit with a slim skirt that later became more of a dropped waist tubular twenties style dress with a hemline that was creeping upwards. This would become a classic s fashion garment. First it developed into the fitted darted sheath dress and later into the loose straight short shift dress. By the style really began to catch on. The design was picked up by Mary Quant who modified it to her taste.
Various refinements on this early sack dress picked up by Courrèges, led Quant to go one step further and design the mini shift dress that was to dominate the 's decade. The trapeze dress was a swinging dress almost triangular in shape and designed to be worn with low shoes and bouffant hairstyles. Over the years it too was modified into the short baby doll tent style making the 60's version.
A shaped Tent dresses with cutaway armholes were an alternative look of the sixties. Similarly the empire line dress that had been introduced in was loved by young teenagers who looked childlike in the style, hence phrases like "baby doll style" were applied to it.
The empire line dress of was loved by young teenagers who looked childlike in the style and the opposite of looking 'grownup' like their mothers which by then was the worst possible 'fashion' look to have. Chanel was already criticising the boned bodices promoted by Dior as backward looking. The emerging new society was only too willing to agree with her. However as mentioned above, Dior's looser freer styles were partially the starting point for Quant's early designs.
Chanel was astute enough, to know that couture had a limited future. Its influence was morphing into one that would culminate in branding and ready to wear designer labels in the next decades. Couture Design House survival now depended not on the depleted private rich customers, but on selling designs to the mass market. In Britain, Haute Couture models began to be licensed to companies like Wallis and soon provided a useful source of income.
Macy's of New York paid huge sums of money for an individual Toile, a linen or calico copy of the designer model garment. Every piece of information they needed to make the garment as a near copy would be provided. Details of trimmings, buttons, fasteners etc were all part of the price paid.
If they sold a superior more exact version as a limited copy, they could sell it as a designer original and reap the reward of a higher designer price. Fashion history shows that styles and garments of the fifties and sixties were revolutionised by new fabrics. Many of the 's fabrics were synthesised from petrochemicals.
Initially they were novel, but expensive materials. Crimplene at first could only be bought in high class Madame shops. Crimplene enabled everyone to wear white and pastel colours because they could be washed easily as polyester does not yellow like white nylon does with age and sunlight.
The fabric also tailored well and could be made into button front, double breasted, wide collar dresses and retain a crisp appearance through washing. In the early fifties, America had easier access than the UK to really attractive man made fibre goods. Many UK people had their first nylon goods from America in parcels sent by American pen pals.
I recall receiving beautiful silky lemon nylon pyjamas one Christmas and being so excited about them. But best of all, I received the following year a beautiful lemon nylon, tiered party dress even better than the PJs. I will never forget how wonderful that frilled and very pretty dress seemed - Sheila Sapp of Oakland Avenue, Ohio if ever you read this I thank you.
Sketch of typical double breasted shirtwaist slim line 's dress. Such dresses were usually made of hardwearing wool Barathea suiting material and often had a large white organdie collar and cuffs with a bias bound edge that could be detached and washed, then sewn back into position.
Such cuffs were called French cuffs. The handbag is a style similar to the famous Kelly bag. The new fabrics of nylon and polyester were ideal for women's trousers and ski pant styles. Throughout the early 50s the ponytail was a popular youthful hairstyle and it matured into the French pleat. Fashionable hairstyles began with simple ponytails and ended the decade with complex beehive arrangements.
Popular hairstyles in the s and 60s were the poodle cut and the French pleat and later the beehive which began at the tail end of the 50s. For the more sophisticated, a permanent wave in the styles favoured by Elizabeth Taylor and the young Queen Elizabeth II were universally worn. Their popular bubble cut hairstyles were easily copied with the advent of improved hair products, particularly home perms.
Hairdressing was so big, that by almost 30, salons had sprung up in Britain. As products such as hair lacquer sprays and plastic rollers came into general use it was easily possible for ordinary women to create more and more complex hairstyles of height.
By the late 50s, outrageous backcombed bouffants, beehives, and French pleats led the way for the intricate coiled hairstyles of the s. By the end of the 50s, hair spray in cans, commercial shampoo, conditioner and rollers all became big business that boomed in the sixties. Dusty Springfield's beehive and eye make up was copied throughout Britain. Lavish backcombing was hair sprayed and the style teased, prodded and smoothed into a high mound.
After Dusty Springfield's beehive came the Beatle cut and Vidal Sassoon's five point cut bobbed style. Mary Quant sported a Sassoon haircut A softer fringed haircut followed the Beatles rise to fame and a cover album where all four Beatles wore black polo neck sweaters.
Image right of Dusty Springfield the British singer and her beehive hairstyle. This half up, half down style was a compromise between wearing the hair up and wearing it down. Until the term teenagers was not in general use.
Children were known as girls and boys were called youths once they displayed signs of puberty. Then young people were grown up at 18 and fully adult legally at 21 when they often married and set up a home of their own even if it was rented room. Getting married was a way of showing the adult world that you belonged to their world and was a way of escape from puberty.
During the s a range of influences including film, television, magazines and the rock music scene created a new market grouping called teenagers. A sudden flurry of consumer goods denied to war torn Europe were available and a consumer boom was actively encouraged. Teen clothes, that were specifically intended to be bought by teenagers became available. You can read more s teenage consumers and teddy boys , teen clothing and 50's teen fashion idols in another special 's page and in denims.
Most of the British nation still kept religious holidays like Whitsunday and Whit Monday when the mixed congregations from chapels and churches would march through British towns parading their chapel banners and wearing their Sunday best. The clothes would follow the up to date fashions of the time and be sparkling clean often in the new fabrics. Girls dresses were almost always in nylon with skirts puffed out with petticoats.
Children and families would be gathered together for a few family photographs to be taken with cousins and neighbours. The photographs were often only taken at Whitsunday and show how formal the dress of girls was even then.
They always wore gloves for the occasion and sometimes fake flower corsages usually made from stiffened fabric such as organdie or cotton. Young women attempted to be as glamorous and grown up looking as their mothers or especially as royalty or film stars of the day.
I am wearing a paper nylon striped raspberry pink and white modern nylon dress next to my teenage sister who is only 15 yrs, but is dressed to look older.
But look at her narrow waist and you realise she is very young despite the glamour make up. The pointed pre formed conically stitched bra was actually a fashion accessory as without one the sweater girl look was certainly not right. Fashionable accessories included popper beads and spectacles with enormous wings that arched in twirls upward that could be studded with rhinestones.
Seamless stockings were introduced in Britain in , but the masses did not take to them as the early shaping was so poor compared to regular fully fashioned, shaped, seamed stockings.
Only later in the fifties did they gain approval. Stocking sizes ranged from size 8 to size 11 going up in half sizes. The fit varied from brand to brand, but fully fashioned seamed stocking were well shaped on the foot and heel although the yarn used was not stretchy and sometimes a little bagging could happen so that fine wrinkles appeared.
It was essential to either check your seams were straight using a back mirror or get a sister or friend to tell you nothing was crooked. Early 's shoes were often very high, but with rounded or peep toes and low cut front uppers. Strapped sandals with finer heels were popular as were heavier thicker heels for lower shoes, but by the mid fifties kitten heels and metal tipped steel stiletto heels replaced styles that owed more to designs that had been brought out to compliment the New look of Read more about fashion in the s in my other pages such as 's accessories and stiletto shoes on the s Accessories.
I also look at teenage fashion and teddy boys of the 50s and sewing dressmaking patterns from the s. Social history is covered and compared to today in the Way Society Lived in the s , plus the to Brief Timeline Chart. The Second World War left women craving for glamour, style and swathes of fabric where scraps of material had once existed. Dior's full skirted and waisted designs fulfilled all the early dreams of the feminine woman in the early 50's. As a new, more liberated society evolved, women moved toward freer more relaxed clothes and began the move away from the dress rules and associated formality of decades.
Changes in technology, leisure, work, cultural and moral values, homelife and politics have all contributed to lifestyle trends which influence the clothes we wear.
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