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The Softer Side - 50s Part I

Nancy Willett [ April 2003 ]

After the war, women left their wartime factory jobs and returned to the role of homemaker. Families thrived in the suburbs with station wagons, picture windows, backyard, casseroles and Emily Post. Donna Reed was the perfect picture of the happy housewife dressed in the standard daytime shirtwaist with full circle skirt, and belted waist.

A fancy apron was added to wear at home in the kitchen. Of course, she never left the house without the short white gloves, flowered hat perched on the back of the head and suitable handbag.

Taffeta strapless ball gowns, many in black, with full skirts and wide-collared evening coats, extravagant cocktail dresses in lush colors, fabrics and accessories, were worn for evening wear, along with elbow length gloves and coordinating hats. Mink stoles, cashmere sweaters with fur collars, and jeweled embroidery were the coordinating features.

Chanel returned to designing with her signature cardigan suit and low sling-back shoes. Skirts were mid-calf and pleated at the waist to give fullness. Pucci designed silk scarves, dresses, blouses and stretch bathing suits in bold patterns of purple, pink and crimson.

Poodles were top dog, and appeared on skirts and jewelry. Costume pearls were worn as every day jewelry. Rhinestone-studded sun glasses were the crowning touch to any outfit.

Toreador or Capri pans worn with appliquéd sweaters and ballet slippers were the mainstay of the casual outfit. Circle skirts were made in felt with appliqués of everything from poodles to plants and lobsters. (To be continued.)

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