The 'New Look' of the 1950s brought back the classic female form. Cinched in waistlines and full skirts with petticoats shaped the silhouette of the time. Skirts were made from simple fabric like gingham and printed cotton for daytime and for night-time they featured layers of chiffon or rayon in bold colours like baby blue and lime green. Petticoats were stiffened with starch or a sugar solution to create form and movement under the circle skirts. For a more glamorous look petticoats were made using nylon tulle which gave a softer effect for eveningwear. In contrast to the voluminous circle skirt was the hobble or pencil skirt. A slim straight skirt that featured the tiny waistline but no gathers or pleats, just a simple slit in the back to allow for movement.
|Roger Vivier Stilettos|
Nylon stockings were returned to woman's drawers having been diverted in production to assist the war effort. Their demand sky rocketed and riots were caused when producers held sales. Woman no longer needed to mimic the leg seam using eye-liner and had their trusty companions back again. The female leg was also to reach new heights in the form of the stiletto heel. Invented by French shoe designer Roger Vivier the stiletto heel complimented the feminine fashion silhouette perfectly. Ladies were offered lessons in how to walk properly in these steel-strengthened pencil-thin heels.
The freedom of the post-war era stimulated the emerging Youth culture. Teenagers no longer felt the need to do as their parents did and set their own agenda bringing style with them. America led the rest of the teenage world with two dominant figures emerging: the Preppies and the Greasers. A Preppy teen's wardrobe featured Capri pants or pedal pushers, scoop neck blouses, tight sweaters or cardigans and three quarter length sleeved blouses with a neckerchief. The greasers sported denim jeans and leather biker jackets a symbol of rebellion that terrified the older generation. Music and film greatly influenced the fashion of teen culture and the fabrics used in clothing production.
In 1952 acrylic was introduced to clothing production world. Alongside Nylon it was marketed as a 'miracle' fabric that was crease-proof, shrink proof and quick drying. Meanwhile 'drip-dry' nylon and Dacron could retain head-set pleats after washing and became a sensation. Along came Polyester in 1953 offering its ability to keep its shape with an anti-wrinkle quality. The domestic female was given an easier washing load with the introduction of synthetic fabric production and the fashion world never looked back.