This will help you pick your outfit for the big event!
Created by MinnesotaHistory on Apr 15, 2009
Last updated: 05/03/11 at 05:05 PM
Tags: fashion RetroRama Minnesota Historical Society
In 1965, Mary Quant, owner of a popular clothing shop in London, England, premiered the miniskirt. Popular with younger women through the early 1970s, it was usually accented with large curled hair and knee length "go-go boots".
Taken in 1963, this publicity photograph of the original seven astronauts of the Mercury program shows the new casual mens wear of the sixties. Suits were still common business attire, but now a button down or new polyester shirt and comfortable slacks were the fashion for men.
New First Lady of the United States Jacqueline Kennedy brings in the new fashions of the 1960s with her simple pillbox hats, sleeveless shift-style dresses for day wear, and elegant evening gowns. This family photograph by the White House photographer was taken in December, 1962. Note the simple, short style of the First Lady's red-checkered dress.
Most popular in the early sixties, this suit was made up of a pastel wool knee length skirt, and matching boxy, short jacket with large buttons. A large, curled hairstyle and heels, often stilettos, completed the look.
Comfortable capri pants and a top were the new fashion in casual wear for women and girls. Patterns and colors would become increasingly varied and bright as the sixties progressed. Photograph: Young women with hula hoops, Minneapolis Star Tribune, May 1959. Location no. GV5.9 p17, copyright Minnesota Historical Society.
In 1956, Elvis Presley becomes internationally known, bringing to the fore the differences between adult and teenage dress, a change that started in the 1950s. Teenage boys wear "pompadour" hairdos similar to Elvis, with tight jeans, white tee shirts, and leather jackets.
Cotton or silk gloves were a fashion must for any woman of the fifties when going out in public. Pillbox hats, first designed in the 1930s and based on the boxes pills were kept in, or small disk-shaped hats or berets were also popular, but subject to the individual preferences of the woman. Photograph: Officers of National Council of Jewish Women, Albert Lea-Austin, circa 1950s. Location no. B2.3 p47, copyright Minnesota Historical Society.
Stiletto heels up to five inches debut at a Paris fashion show, and are soon popular in the United States. Here, actresses Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell show off the elegant, simple dress fashions of the fifties, known as "classicism".
Mens wear was typically very conservative in the 1950s, with either "Bahamas", like the one pictured here, a style made popular by President Harry Truman (1945-1953), or straight cut business suits very common.
By 1950, the "hourglass" look premiered after the end of World War II had been joined by the full "swing skirt" most often associated with the poodle skirts of younger women. The skirt was usually cut to calf length with up to 10 yards of material and petticoats underneath to give it the requisite look. The top was either a separate buttoned blouse, a v-neck short sleeve or sleeveless dress, or a buttoned collared dress. Photograph: Women baking and eating cookies, Minneapolis Star Tribune, 1954. Location no. GT 2.51 p20.
With the end of the war, skirts resumed the fullness and length unavailable during rationing. Waists began to come in even tighter then during the 1940s, and carefully curled, full hair pulled back from the face, cotton gloves, and high heels completed the look. This style of dress, known as an "hourglass", or "figure eight", for the shape of the women's body, was popular throughout the 1950s. Photograph: St. Paul Winter Carnival queen candidates model clothes for style show, 1949. Location no. GT1.4k p9, copyright Minnesota Historical Society.
After the restrictions on nylon issued in March, 1942, the last supplies cause riots in the stores, leading to a search for an alternative. Make-up is adapted for use on the legs to mimic hosiery, and a line is drawn up the back for the "seam" with an eye pencil.
The U.S. War Production Board issues Law 85, restricting the use of wool, silk, cotton, and nylon, a synthetic substitute for silk. The materials were needed for uniforms, equipment, parachutes, ropes, and other items for the troops. Photograph: Woman donating hosiery for defense, 1942. Location no. E448.14 p18, copyright Minnesota Historical Society.
First marketed in Europe in 1939, knitted hosiery, soon to be known as "Nylons" is sold in the United States starting in 1940. The light weight, cool stretchy polymide quickly becomes popular.
As the United States entered World War II, many regular consumer items, including cotton and wool, were in short supply. Women were told how to modify older clothing and men's suits unused by those serving in uniform to create outfits. The style was slightly more "military" then the 1930s, with heavily padded shoulders and a square cut. Rationing regulations limited skirts to 72 inches wide at the hem, and jackets to 25 inches in length. Photograph: Models in suits and dress, 1940. Location no. GT1.4k r9, copyright Minnesota Historical Society.
Zoot (originally spelled "zuit") suits are first made popular by Mexican Americans and African Americans. The excessive fabric of the pants and jackets brings criticism by the War Production Board during World War II, though the style lasts through the mid-1940s.
By mid-decade, sleek, simple evening dresses in cotton and rayon have become very popular among the middle class, showing off the feminine figure while allowing cheaper prices then those made from the traditional silk. Photograph: Style revue, Minneapolis, September, 1936. Location no. GT 1.4j p21, copyright Minnesota Historical Society.
Paris designers use modified mens clothing to allow women more freedom of movement. Pant suits and split skirts pave the way for the shorts of the 1940s. Photograph: Kay Palmquist modeling a trouser suit, Minneapolis, 1935. Location no. GT 1.4j p8, copyright Minnesota Historical Society.
Suits are worn by some as day wear with vests, small lapels, cuffs tailored to the wrist, and collars. The loose style of pant begun at Oxford in the 1920s has replaced the knee length "knickers", though now tapered at the ankle, not the tubular style of the 1920s. Photograph: Seven young men of Italian descent posed by fence, September, 1932. Location no. GT 1.3j r5, copyright Minnesota Historical Society.
Italian fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli introduces the first womens clothing featuring a visible zipper. Seen by some as allowing the clothing to be taken off too easily, the zipper is not fully accepted as part of womens clothing until the 1950s.
By the end of the year, dresses are emphasizing the "womanly" shape, pulled in at the waist, with flared sleeves with pads at the shoulders. Skirts also dive back down to the bottom of the calf, where it will stay with small variations throughout the decade. Flat, saucer shaped hats perched daintily on softer hair styles replace the boyish bob and cloche. Photograph: Three women, circa 1930s. Location no. GT 1.4j p18, copyright Minnesota Historical Society.
Briefly, the hemline of evening wear follows that of the daytime "flapper" dress, extending up to the knee. Knee-high beige stockings and high-heeled ankle-strap "Mary Jane" shoes completed the look. The waist-less "flapper" style with a longer, ankle length skirt is seen during the earlier years of the decade.
These loosely fitted pants that originated at Oxford University with the banning of knickers in 1924 are quickly adopted when they debut at Wanaker's department store. Photo: Oxford bag pants, circa 1925. Location no. GT 1.3i r5, copyright Minnesota Historical Society.
Famed Paris designer Jean Patou lifts the skirts of his new "flapper" day wear dress 18 inches off the floor, the highest point reached by this straight shift-like style. Easy to make at home, flapper dresses were especially popular among the middle and upper classes.
The cloche hat; a close fitting, bell shaped design popular since early 1900, becomes smaller, tighter and ever more popular as the decade progresses. Women found that only short cut, close fitting hairstyles would allow a clouche to be properly worn, popularizing the "bob" and other short, androgynous hairstyles. This beaded cloche, part of the Minnesota Historical Society's collection, was worn during the early 20s.
"The Flapper," a silent movie starring Olive Thomas, describes the hijinx of young Ginger King, the prototypical sporty, boyish light hearted young woman of the 20s. As the decade progresses, women discard corsets, adopt lighter undergarments, and generally favor easy, sporty looks with dropped waist tube dresses, bare arms, flat boyish chests, and bright make up. Photograph: Blanche Griffith, a style show model, April, 1922. Location no. por 24259 p1, copyright Minnesota Historical Society.
F. Scott Fitzgerald's short story, "Bernice Bobs Her Hair" is published in the Saturday Evening Post, in May of 1920. Well known actresses and singers popularize the look (like Louise Brooks pictured here) and though initially controversial, it soon becomes widespread. The bob complements the androgynous, boy-ish look of the era.