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Top 15 Trends from the 50s

By Dillon Wallace

In the decade that’s most synonymous with the baby boom, the fabulous fifties gave birth to some iconic fashions and trends. Contrary to popular belief, the 50s weren’t totally square. Just like all other decades, the 50’s possessed their own stylish pizzazz in the form of clothing, crazes, colors and more. Here’s a peak at the top 15 – featuring a little more in-depth look at the top 10.

1) Pastel colors

If you look back at the 50s, the decade seemed to really love pops of color. Pastels, particularly pink, turquoise, mint green, pale yellow, hot rod red and sky blue were all the rage. Just look at the color scheme for most classic cars of the era and you’ll see how vibrant the decade really was.

2) Poodle skirts

Women in the 50s wanted to mix dance functionality with style, all while keeping it modest. Hence, the poodle skirt, famously emblazoned with a little image of a poodle, gave ladies of the 50s just the skirt their dancing hearts desired.

3) Sock hops

These high school dances were held school gymnasiums, calling for students to remove their shoes and dance in their socks to protect the gym floor. With the emergence of rock n’ roll music sweeping the country and the decade, kids felt free to dance the jitterbug and twist as they shook, rattled and rolled.

4) 3D Movies

3D movies may feel like a craze that came out just a few years ago, but the truth is, the technology has been part of cinemas since the early 50s. With the boom of television stealing audiences away from the cinemas, something needed to be done to compete. And in 1952, “Bwana Devil” was released as the first big box office 3D movie, spurring a chain of other films to soon follow the trend.

5) Beatniks

If every generation has a counter culture, the beatniks were the 1950s. The beat generation consisted of urban literary intellectuals who based their views on spontaneous acts of creativity, poetry and song. Most of their beliefs were grounded in the antiestablishment, which meant anti-conformist actions, experimentation with drugs, anti-religion and sex. All topics a little too edgy for the 50s.

6) Drive-in movies

3D movies weren’t the only way cinemas tried to recapture audiences in the 50s. In the summer of 1933, the first drive-in movie theater was opened in New Jersey, but the fad didn’t truly catch on until the 1950s. Families, teenagers and couples all flocked to the drive-in, each for their own set of interests … and added privacy.

7) Gelatin molds

Gelatin became a kitchen favorite in the 1905s. In fact, it became such a dinner staple, that a surge of gelatin recipes was released suspending everything from fruit and nuts to vegetables and meat in these wiggly, jiggly molds.

8) Soda fountains

Soda fountains became a must-have for diners and pharmacies in the 50s. In fact, if there was a soda fountain, a dance floor and a jukebox available, you could probably call it a party.

9) Coonskin caps

Fads are often created by celebrities, and such is the case with the infamous Davy Crocket-inspired coonskin cap. Fess Parker rocked the cap and a musket as the King of the Wild Frontier in the hit Davy Crocket Disney show. So of course, every postwar-era boy (and some girls) wanted to be just like Davy, not leaving the house without their coonskin caps.

10) Side burns

Thanks to James Dean and Elvis Presley, guys everywhere started growing their side burns out at an alarming rate. If the king of rock n’ roll and the king of cool were doing it, then you were a total square if you didn’t.

11) Conical Bra – the cone-shaped bra (AKA the bullet or torpedo) was the essence of women sex appeal in the 50s.

12) Hula Hoops – who would have thought that a ring of plastic would be such a playground hit? And still to this day?!

13) Ant farms – kids and adults really got into watching ant colonization unfold before their eyes, so much so that it became a toy.

14) Letterman jackets – If you were an athlete, you had a letterman jacket or sweater. If you were the girlfriend of said athlete, you would represent your relationship status by wearing his jacket.

15) Saddle shoes – The classic mid-paneled shoes that resembled a horse saddle were one of the hottest forms of footwear back in the 50s.

Even in “a simpler time,” the fashion and trends of 50s were full of personality – it’s what made the decade so fabulous.

In fact, some of the trends from the decade still live on today, like 3D movies, letterman jackets and hula hoops, nearly 70 years after they first generated buzz. Others, not so much – sorry ant farms and conical bras. But that’s the beauty of trends, you never know when they’re going to make their way back around. 

Make sure you preserve your memories of the fabulous 50s by digitizing those recorded moments, photos and audio, so they live on for future generations. 

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