The 1950s were a simpler time, but that doesn’t mean the decade responsible for sock hops, drive-in theaters, Elvis’ hips and the prime years of the Golden Age of cinema didn’t have its fair share of memorable trends.
Daddy-O! These trends were so cool, you’ve got to burn rubber Marty McFly-style and go back to the future to experience them in all their splendor.
Or, you could probably just flip through an old photo album or dust off some old family film to see how the fabulous fifties played out. But more on that later …
Quick! Think of the first fashion that comes to mind when you hear 1950s. That’s right, the women’s poodle skirt. These long, flowing skirts – often embroidered with a … you guessed it, Poodle – were all the rage back in the 50s hey-day.
Facial hair wasn’t popular in the 50s – it was a decade that preferred a cleaner aesthetic. So, lots of men grew out their sideburns instead, in large part because of the popularity of 50’s icons Elvis Presley and James Dean. Top off the look with a leather jacket, and you were in business – the cool cat business.
Toward the end of the 50s, a simple toy was released that would take the decade by storm. It became so popular that just after four months of its release in 1958, nearly 25 million hoops had already been sold. A toy that has continued to grace many a childhood.
Diners & jukeboxes
Checkered flooring, neon signage and waitresses in poodle skirts. Nothing is more 50s than grabbing a greasy burger and strawberry shake at a diner, popping some change into the jukebox and kicking it with some friends. Well, maybe one thing …
Family friendly or make out hotspot, drive-in theaters were the place to be on the weekends in the 1950s. With so many stylish convertibles on the road and the Golden Age of movies hitting its peak, the drive-in was the bee’s knees.
The letterman jacket was a symbol of prized jock status, indicating athlete and usually “good ol’ boy status.” It was also a version of the promise ring because if you saw a girl wearing a boy’s letterman jacket, you knew she was spoken for.
The red scare & nuclear drills
By 1949, the Soviet Union was boastfully broadcasting the possession of nuclear weapons. Apprehensive that nuclear war could break out at any time, students in schools across the nation had to participate in nuclear drills, or the more politically correct, civil defense drills, as they hid under their desks or headed to a fallout shelter if their school had one.
Disney is solely to blame for this fad. After watching Fess Parker in the 1954 Davey Crocket miniseries, kids everywhere (particularly boys) wanted to be just like the “king of the wild frontier.”
Pompadour & Poodles
No, we’re not talking about dogs here, rather haircuts. For men in the 1950s, the pompadour (another style made infamous by Elvis Presley and James Dean) were the choice cut of men, as for the women, the permed, tight curled poodle cut (made infamous by actresses like Peggy Garner and Lucille Ball) were the pixie … sorry, pick for women.
Telephone Booth Stuffing
For kids today, they probably don’t even know what a telephone booth is. But in the 1950s, college students around the country (even spreading to South Africa, Canada and the U.K.) would contort themselves, squeezing as many bodies as they could into phone booths, trying to set world records.
Honorable fifties fashion and trends
- Saddle shoes – Elvis talked about blue suede shoes, but the saddle shoe with its patented leather paneling to mimic saddles were all the rage.
- 3D glasses – Can you believe that 3D has been around since the 50s? Before Avatar tried to bring back 3D, moviegoers were rocking black and blue 3D glasses back as early as the 50s.
- Ant farms – Watching ants form hives in the sand within thinned glassed houses became a popular hobby for kids in the 50s.
- Mickey Mouse & the Mickey Mouse Club – This variety show for kids spurred quite the array of actors and actress that would grow up to be huge stars. One of the biggest stars of the 50s … Kurt Russell.
- Conical bra – Although not nearly as overt compared to today’s standards, the 50s still had their own forms of sex appeal. And none made the case more than the conical bra (a.k.a. the bullet or torpedo bra) and its odd cone-shaped form. Eat your heart out Madonna.
Looking back, you can see how and why the 50s have lived up to the stereotype of the Golden Age. And if you’ve got an album full of photos or box full of family film that commemorates the decade, there’s no better time than now to preserve those memories before they fade in time. Check out our digitizing options and help the spirit of the 50s and all the memories live on.