Guest Post: How to Recreate the 1950's Style Today

12:18 PMDollie DeVille

Today we have a guest author, Rachel Divers. Rachel is a photographer, makeup artist, hairstylist and blogger. She has written a post about how to modernize the 1950's look to work for today. I know a lot of my readers are still flirting with the vintage look, so I hope you find this post helpful! 

Vintage Era: the 1950’s – 50’s style, and how to recreate it today
The nation has seen itself thrust into a world filled with idealism and social upheaval just recently as the Warner Bros recreated a screenplay of the 1925 famous novel, The Great Gatsby.

The high street and the internet has been awash with luxuriously embellished flapper dresses, T-strap sandals and Art Deco inspired pieces for the fashionistas who want to channel the Roaring 20’s flapper look. Although the 1920’s was indeed a very iconic time for fashion, there was also another era that helped define fashion as we know it today – the 1950’s.

Christian Dior’s New Look – 
Image from Brilliantly British
Just shy of the 50’s, Christian Dior had unveiled his debut couture collection – a spring selection of voluptuous silhouettes and luxurious fabrics that Carmel Snow, the editor of Harper’s Bazaar hailed as “quite a revelation.” And a revelation it was - as clothes were still scarce at this time due to the World War II rationing, the idea of full-flowing skirts was more than just a luxury, it was an outrageous form of decadence. Ladies loved the look so much that they still coveted the tiny wasp-waist and full skirted look of Dior’s offering well into the 50’s.

Pierre Balmain was also a very influential designer at this time – amongst other things, he was also a costume designer for 16 films, one of which was the film that shot Brigitte Bardot to her sex-kitten status: ‘And God Created Woman.’ Brigitte astounded women when she wore a shirt dress during one of the scenes, shortly afterwards, women found themselves flocking to try and replicate her style.

The 50’s could be described as a style circus due to the sheer amount of captivating styles parading around: A sharp contrast from the wasp-waisted Dior girls - Beatniks were now making an appearance. Audrey Hepburn’s role in 1957’s ‘Funny Face’ allowed her to embrace a Beatnik style for some scenes where she can be seen wearing black trousers and a black jumper – something quite unusual for the time and something which appalled the older generation who preferred the more formal approach to dressing. Jeans also became popular and rebellious teens couldn’t get enough. Icons such as Elvis, Marlon Brando and James Dean wore them for many performances which only gave the fashion-conscious even more determination to show their inner insubordinate side.

A 50’s makeup look taken from Tumblr
The ladies of 1950’s also knew how to paint the perfect face to go with their stylish attire. They wore elegant winged out eyeliner giving the illusion of sultry feline eyes and a slick of bright red lipstick to complete the look. Eyebrows were combed up and outwards in a Marilyn Monroe-esque style to show a high arched expression which epitomised the glamour of the time.  
Hair was traditionally worn short to medium in ladies over 20-years-old. Very short, cropped hairstyles were fashionable in the 1950’s and hats were worn less and less frequently. Plenty of ladies frequented the Poodle hairstyle – named so because of the tight, voluminous curls similar to that of a poodle – and the fabulous beehive style also became extremely popular.

Rebecca McWattie, period and vintage expert, sums up the fifties perfectly: “everything in the 50’s represents a youthful and vibrant attitude to life - a post-war reaction to the drabness and hardship of the previous decade. There was a really upbeat outlook,” she says, “travel was about to open up and horizons were widening, this was all fully expressed in fashion, film and practically any form of design, that's why it's an era so often revived.”

Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face – 
Image from Chic Vintage Brides
The New Look

So, how can we ladies create a modern 1950’s look today? See the tips in our style guide…
Body-con dresses are fabulous at holding in the figure and creating voluptuous curves. Many today come with contrasting side panels to give the hourglass figure illusion. Alternatively, you could wear a mid-length circle skirt or pencil skirt with a jacket nipped in at the waist – if you don’t have a jacket that is naturally tailored in at the waist, try adding a waist belt to cinch in the waist and create the shape.
ASOS Marketplace Fit and Flare dress 
by China Doll
ASOS Marketplace Fit and Flare dress
Fit and flare style vintage dresses can also be worn to emulate 50’s fashion – there are plenty of modern alternatives available that come in an assortment of gorgeous materials and exotic prints. 

ASOS Marketplace Fit and Flare dress 
ASOS Marketplace Peplum Organza skirt 
Peg trousers are an excellent modern alternative to creating the Beatnik look: taking half the influence from harem pants and the other half from tapered ankle grazing pants, the Peg trouser is both comfortable and stylish. Team them with either a neat cropped jacket or strappy cami top and complete the look with skyscraper pointed shoes for ultimate glamour or pointed ballet flats for city-chic style.

ASOS Marketplace Peg trousers by Paisie
ASOS Marketplace Peg trousers by Paisie
The denim shirt dress
Denim is big news this season so make like Brigitte Bardot and grab a shirt dress in denim. Gingham was a very popular material in the 50’s so if you aren’t a denim lover, try this instead.

ASOS Marketplace Denim Shirt Dress 
by Lily Vintage
ASOS Marketplace Shirt Dress 
by What Alice Found

The hair
If your hair is naturally long, then going for a beehive bouffant style like Audrey Hepburn is a great option. Joey Bevan, personal stylist to girl band Stooshe and fashion designer at this year’s Coronation Festival at Buckingham palace says you can’t go wrong with a beehive, “go for something really sleek at the front with a small fringe that’s not too heavy, and beehive it up!” he says.

Short to mid-length locked ladies might like to try out a curlier style. Think Dita Von Teese for a soft glamorous style or think Marilyn Monroe in ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’ for the classic poodle hairstyle.

A curly pinup style to channel the 50’s – hair by Joey Bevan

The makeup
50’s makeup is still as beautiful today and worn by many for both daytime and evenings out. To adapt the 50’s look, you could try applying a different shade of lipstick like a shocking pink as opposed to the jam red seen previously. For the more adventurous ladies, instead of black winged liner, try wearing a bright coloured flick with a neutral lip colour to really make the eyes pop.

A classic 50’s makeup look – hair and makeup by Rachael Divers

If you really want to stay true to the 50’s, make sure to apply a gorgeous smooth makeup base with a matte finish, slightly contour the cheekbones to add depth to the face and add black liquid liner flicks and a coating of mascara. To further create the cat-eye look, apply flared lashes to the outer corners of the upper lash line. Make sure brows are groomed neatly and either go for the full-on arch a la Marilyn or adapt the look to suit your favourite brow shape. 

50’s makeup with a bouffant hairstyle – hair and makeup by Rachael Divers

A classic red lip for the perfect 50’s look - hair and makeup by Rachael Divers

Thank you to Rachel Divers for the great guest post! 

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