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1950s Photos

1950s Photos
Real Life Pictures of People in Britain in the 1950s Fashion History

By Pauline Weston Thomas for Fashion-Era.com

1950s Photos  - Fashion History

Here are some family photographs from the 1950s beginning with a carnival in South Wales, UK that was held to celebrate the Festival of Britain in 1951.  The photos are of real everyday people, but in situations where they have tried to be groomed such as Whitsunday and a school children class of 1957.  If you are planning to copy a 50s look then these 1950s photos show what real people dressed like.

These 1950s photos should not be downloaded or used without permission from Fashion-era.com

Festival of Britain 1951

Carnival in South Wales, UK

The first prize went to the black boy and who had been covered in black stage make up, which apparently took 3 days to completely clean off.  This of course today would be thought totally politically incorrect.

My sister came second as an eastern belly dancer wearing a yashmak.  I am the little blonde toddler girl next to her in the second row at the very front.

Carnival picture - sitting and eating at the carnival party in 1951. Costume history and fashion history 1950s.

When enlarged to full screen, the picture above gives a very clear view of individual people and their hairstyles. Summer 1951.

Click thumbnails and see enlarged 1950s photos

Costume history and fashion history 1950s photos

Here I am in the outfit I loathed. I was dressed as a 3 yr old Romanian peasant girl and recall hating the outfit and stamping my feet because I had to wear a hat that flattened my baby fine hair!  That was the first interest in clothes and hair that I can recall.

Take amazing photos using a Nikon coolpix digital camera.

Whitsunday Family and Friends Group

This group picture was a photo taken in 1955 by the only aunt in the street that owned a Brownie Box camera.

The girls at the back are dressed like sophisticated women in crisp cotton pique high necked dresses which follow the New Look line.

Picture of Whitsunday Family and Friends Group. Costume history and fashion history 1950s.

Click thumbnail

The girls are only 13, 14 and 15 yrs old, but dress like their mothers would. The skull cap hats with sparse veiling were mandatory wear for Whitsunday and the traditional march through town, under the banner of individual chapels and churches.

The younger girls wear dainty nylon organza dresses and whitened shoes.

Schoolchildren in 1957

This is a junior school picture taken about 1957.  You can see clearly the type of clothes these 8 and 9 year old girls and boys wore.  Home knitted cardigans were very popular as were the brown T strap sandals or bar buckle or laced shoes that almost every girl wears.  Not a trainer in sight.

The look is still prim, buttoned up and generally neat with hair tied back with a fresh ribbon daily.  It's still along way from the liberation children of the late 1960s experience in their clothing choices.

Picture of Gwyndy Junior School children circa 1957-8. Costume history and fashion history 1950s.

Click thumbnail of 1957 Picture

At much the same time fluorescent socks in shocking pink, lime green and bright orange or glowing white were all the rage. Plastic mesh bags or bucket bags were often used to carry lunch.

The Showground Fair Comes to Town

Every year in most towns and villages the fair with its roundabouts, bumpers, dodgems and coconut shies came to town.  This was always something of a novelty as fairground rides were usually only to be found at places like Porthcawl or Barry Island or Blackpool.

Couples would take their children to ensure a safe family evening out.

This picture taken about 1959 shows the young girl wearing a windcheater cotton jacket and a cotton soft pleated tablecloth check dress.

Picture of family at the fairground circa 1959. Costume history and fashion history 1950s.

Click picture thumbnail

The teenage girl wears a very fashionable knee length shirtwaist dress with cinched in waist, deep self fabric matching belt and a fashionable wide shoulder collar.  The fashion look she is trying to achieve is still based on icons of the day such as Marilyn Monroe and Diana Dors.

 The dress might just have easily had the same bodice, but with a slim sheath straight skirt.

The mother wears a cotton satin print dress with a short crisp and firm white nylon cardigan.  Father and son are very informally dressed despite still wearing tailored jackets and grey flannel slacks.

Caravan Holiday Group Picture - 1958

This is a group picture of members of 5 related families taken during a caravan holiday in Porthcawl in 1957-8. In the middle is a pregnant woman who wears a yoked cotton smock top typical of maternity wear of the 1950s and 1960s.

Picture of family goup outside a caravan. Costume history and fashion history 1950s.

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The dark haired 17 yr old teenager stood next to her, wears a shirt blouse which had three quarter sleeves with a sunray fine pleated "Terylene" royal blue skirt that was very high fashion.  To pack the skirt it was threaded into a single nylon stocking to keep all the pleats packed tightly together.  The classic fully fashioned botany wool fine knit cardigan would have doubled up as a sweater when worn back to front.

The mother on the far right also wears a glazed cotton sateen shirtwaist striped navy and white cotton dress with the fashionable three quarter length sleeve of the day.  The grandmother in the chair is indifferent to fashion.  The boys wear jeans.

Typical 1950s Full Skirted Dress

Another typical 1950s dress made from cotton check fabric and a self fabric matching wide belt.

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Picture of a woman on the beach wearing a 1950's style dress. Costume history and fashion history 1950s.

In normal wear other than on a beach the wearer would have worn stiffened net petticoats to give a crinoline puff effect to the skirt. The look is very much influenced by films such as Oklahoma and stars such as Doris Day where a homespun gingham look was fashionable.

These photographs should not be downloaded or used without permission from Fashion-era.com

For more information about the 1950s Era and main links to 1920s, 1930s and 1940s sections click on the titles below:-

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Fashion-Era.com looks at women's costume and fashion history and analyses the mood of an era.  Changes in technology, leisure, work, cultural and moral values. Homelife and politics also contribute to lifestyle trends, which in turn influence the clothes we wear.  These are the changes that make any era of society special in relation to the study of the costume of a period.Fashion History

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