The world woke up from a six-year-long nightmare in the summer of 1945. World War II (1939–45), which had pitted the Allied forces of the United States, Britain, France, Russia, Canada, Australia, and other nations against the Axis forces of Germany, Japan, Italy, Austria, and others, finally ended, but the effects of the war lingered on for years afterward.
During World War II (1939–45) fashion had taken a backseat to the war effort, and dress designers had been severely limited in what they could make as governments placed severe restrictions on the kinds and amounts of cloth designers could use. In the fifteen years that followed the end of the war, fashions in the West went through a series of sweeping changes.
In fashion history the late 1940s are best known for the introduction of the New Look, a return to luxurious feminine clothes that was begun by French designer Christian Dior (1905–1957). Across the ocean, however, American designer Claire McCardell (1905–1958) was creating a revolution in fashion of her own.
During World War II (1939–45) the United States government directed that the amount of cloth in women's beachwear be reduced by 10 percent to conserve fabric which was needed in the war effort. As a result swimsuit manufacturers produced suits featuring bare midriffs.
The Bold Look was a style in men's clothing and accessories that sought to answer the conservatism, or reserved nature, that had characterized men's dress during the Great Depression (1929–41) and World War II (1939–45). It was created by the editors of Esquire magazine, the most popular men's magazine of the period, in the spring of 1948, most likely as a male answer to the popular women's styles of the day, the New Look and the American Look.
People have worn animal furs since the dawn of time. The earliest known hunters and trappers captured and killed animals not only to provide themselves and their families with food, but to stitch together the fur—the thick, smooth, hairy coat of animal skin—to make warm clothing.
The 1950s were a time of conformity in the United States and in American fashion. Middle-and upper-class families by the thousands moved out of the nation's cities and resettled in suburban, or residential, communities.
The trend during the 1950s to wear matching clothing ensembles was followed by women from every social class. After the rationing, or limiting, of fabrics during World War II (1939–45), women embraced the availability of luxuries once again.
The New Look clothing designs for women that emerged from the studio of French designer Christian Dior (1905–1957) in 1947 put an end to the wartime styles that had dominated fashion ever since 1939. During World War II (1939-1945) designers and clothes makers had been forced to adjust their styles to wartime cloth restrictions and rationing due to lack of materials; women's clothes were close fitting, with square shoulders and short skirts.
One of the most enduring styles in modern American dress is the preppy style. The term preppy derives from the expensive pre-college preparatory or prep schools that upper-middle-class White Anglo-Saxon Protestant children on the United States's East Coast sometimes attend.
In the 1950s a new kind of music jolted the American mainstream: rock 'n' roll, a loud, fast, liberating sound that primarily appealed to teenagers. Rock 'n' roll was an offshoot of the rural blues and urban rhythm and blues music that for years had entertained The greaser/rock 'n' roll look, as captured in the film The Outsiders.
The late 1940s and 1950s were a time in fashion history when many people were concerned with dressing just right, and the way they styled their hair and chose their hats was no exception. As with other areas of fashion, hat styles had been simplified during World War II (1939–45) in order to conserve precious materials that were needed for the war effort.
One of the most popular women's hairstyles of the late 1950s and early 1960s was the lavishly teased bouffant. The bouffant first surfaced in the 1950s, reflecting a return to big hair for women following a period of plain wartime styles.
Also known as a G.I., or government issue, haircut, the standard crew cut is a variation on the buzz cut, a regulation haircut given to servicemen in the U.S. military in which the entire head is sheared, typically with an electric razor.
Hair coloring dates to ancient times, when Greeks, Romans, and others altered their hair by applying soaps and bleaches. Many Romans preferred a black dye that consisted of leeks and boiled walnuts, while Saxons added such unlikely colors as orange, green, and blue to their hair and beards.
After the end of World War II (1939–45), many people considered the 1950s to be the beginning of a modern world, full of new products that would make their lives easier. The bright, the shiny, and the new were valued above all, and fashions reflected this.
During the mid- to late 1950s, a number of young people began to rebel against the clean-cut image of a well-scrubbed teenager with a crew cut and a bright smile. Jelly rolls and duck tails were the names of two hairstyles popular with some nonconformists, or rebels, during the late 1950s and early 1960s.
Pillboxes are small containers used to hold pills. Beginning in the 1930s the basic pillbox design was employed by milliners, or hatmakers, who created a new style of head covering: the pillbox hat, a smallish, brimless round hat that featured straight sides and a level top.
Proper accessories, makeup, and undergarments were an extremely important part of women's fashion in the late 1940s through the 1950s. The major fashion trends of the late 1940s, inspired by the New Look fashions of designer Christian Dior (1905–1957), called for a carefully assembled outfit that included such accessories as white gloves and umbrellas to accompany carefully chosen shoes, hat, and dress.
Charm bracelets actually date from ancient times. They were worn by men as well as women and were intended to protect one from one's adversaries or reflect one's profession, religious or political affiliation, or status within the community.
During World War II (1939–45) so many chemicals and other resources were used for the war effort that cosmetics had become scarce and expensive. After the war the market was once again flooded with products, and women were encouraged to shop and buy in order to keep the economy healthy.
Men's shoes did not go through a great deal of change in the fifteen years following the end of World War II (1939–45). During the late 1940s, while Bold Look, or showy, fashions were in style, there was a brief preference for thicker-soled, heavier shoes to accompany the bolder cuts and colors in men's suits.
Man-made materials invented in the 1940s created a new chapter in fashion history by replacing natural textiles, such as leather and cotton, in many fashionable garments. The new materials were advertised as "miracles" because of how easy they were to care for: no shrinking, no staining, and no need for ironing.
Women have worn high-heeled shoes for hundreds of years, but the heel has never been so tall and narrow as on the stiletto heels that became popular in the early 1950s. A stiletto heel, named after a thin Italian dagger, could be as tall as four or five inches, and it narrowed to a point as small as three-eighths of an inch in diameter.
Top-Siders, also known as boat shoes or deck shoes, are casual low-heeled shoes made out of leather or canvas with a special skid-resistant sole, usually made out of white rubber. The shoes became popular in the late 1940s, following the end of restrictions on the use of leather and rubber that were associated with World War II (1939–45).