C20th Fashion History 1958
Late 1950s Bride with Bridesmaids Wedding Group 1958
This is a 1958 wedding picture of Barbara and her bridesmaids. Barbara was another cousin
of Vera whose wedding is featured
on the fashion era web site. The bride and bridesmaids all wear figured damask fabric dresses.
Note how the style of bride's bridal floral spray is moving away from the large fern
dominated bouquets of previous years and is becoming
more modern in style. The bridal group wear satin shoes and no doubt
they were Dylon fabric dyed to match and tone with the dresses. It was
customary in this era to team bare arms with long gloves.
Barbara later wrote to me that 'My bouquet was pink orchids and the
bridesmaid's dresses were ice blue and you are correct in saying their shoes
were dyed to match. The wedding was in August and in the following December I had my dress
altered into an evening dress and wore it to my firm's Christmas Dinner at
the Savoy, London.'
This latter point is interesting. In the last century many brides did
buy their 'expensive' wedding dresses with an eye to altering them into
evening dresses. In the Victorian era women often chose a grey dress
as it was so suitable for years to come after the wedding. It is
probably only in the last decade that women have become affluent enough to
discard a wedding dress after one day of wearing.
What a wonderful wedding group scene from 1958.
The two images left are especially interesting from a fashion history point
of view. I have even wondered if these guests wear the same suit and
wonder if that is why the second guest stands half-shaded by a bridesmaid.
The jackets are almost identical. Look closely at the cut of the
collar. The figuring on the left picture is clearer. But I do faintly
see figuring on the first fabric image. I wonder if these guests
bought the same ensemble - every woman's nightmare!
However, they do both look extremely smart. Fashion history is a
continuous cycle, since there is only so much designers can do to the human
body when designing clothes for a form that is much the same today as it was
2000 years ago. Waists are thicker today, but these two guests could quite easily slot into a wedding picture 50 years later.
(Later Barbara wrote to tell me 'The two "guests" you compare are, on the
left of Brian (the groom's) mother, Nora Cole, and on the right my mother,
Ellen Hibbit. On the day their suits did not look at all alike, but with
hindsight I can see what you mean.')
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woman to the very far right of the photo below is also interesting. One of
the major mass looks of 1950s fashion history was the use of stoles in
general and of an open weave brushed mohair stole in particular. Brushed mohair stoles were worn in much the same way as a Pashmina has been used globally in the past 15 years.
Two of the women far right also wear patterned suits. These were more likely
to have been patterned, high lustre, sateen cotton dresses with matching
jackets, than skirts and jacket suits. The dresses beneath would have
been straight sheath dresses either sleeveless, cap sleeved or sundress
The matching dress and jacket was one of the most versatile outfits in a
woman's wardrobe and it performed a similar function to the trouser suits of
today. When a 1950s woman wondered what to wear, she often wore a
dress and matching jacket. You can just see the top of the matching
dress at the neckline if you enlarge the photo.
Bags varied in style from a traditional handbag to a simple clutch bag for
events. In the very back of the right image above, you can see a child
wearing a formal princess nanny style
like this one here.
The small skull and Juliet caps that most women here wear are also
representative of 1950s
hat fashion history. In the 1950s women often
wore hats not just to weddings, but also to any formal event such as a Sunday
church service or a top job interview.
fashion history we generally find that children's clothes do bear a
similarity to adult dress. Sometimes they copy adult dress and lag
behind, but sometimes they lead adult dress and we copy their styles.
These girls of 1958 wear full skirted dresses with gathers into a semi
fitted bodice waist. The dresses are almost junior versions of women's
The centre girl is neatly accessorized. She carries her little
handbag, wears a necklace and a hat. I wonder what she had in that
bag.... perhaps Rowntree's Fruit Gums or Spangles and of course some confetti. I bet she is still passionate about 'it' bags today.
Her dress has some loose lace floral
motifs applied to the top of the skirt. Three of the young girls are
dressed in identical dresses, which makes me think they were possibly flower
girls or the girls wanted to appear as if they were flower girls.
The children's dresses were most likely made from cotton or the fairly new
polyamide fibre called bri-nylon, which was in its heyday in the 1950s for
A 1950s child could be put in a white or pastel nylon dress and brilliant
white socks and a mother would know that however dirty the child became, the
fabrics would wash and drip dry overnight. If she was lucky she would
do that same washing in a twin tub washing machine.
Boys wore short trousers until they were about 11 or 12 when they went to
secondary modern or grammar school.
- Famous wedding - Paul Newman married Joanne Woodward.
- Both Bill Gates and Madonna were born in 1958.
- The first experiments first began in an attempt to develop the modem.
- Paris fashion dictated shorter skirts above the knee.
- Yves St. Laurent introduced the Trapeze line.
- Last debutantes presented at Court in UK.
- USA annual family income reaches $5000.
- De Gaulle became President of France.
- NASA Founded.
- Stereo LP records first sold.
- Berlin Airlift.
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