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1950's fashion – The Right Silhouette for your figure.

Vintage 1950s clothing advice for the young woman..


Fashion advice from the 1950s

This guide contains advice from the past. It was written in the 1950's by Dora Lewis from her "Wardrobe Planning Book".

Many women have just one little figure problem that really bugs them. Whatever it is, it can be made less apparent by wearing the right garment silhouette, finding the right fashion line.

There are four distinct fashion lines  - vertical | horizontal | oblique | and curved. Before you can select the right line – you must determine your silhouette.

1950s Silhouette -The Tall thin girl.


The tall thin woman should say no to slinky dresses and styles. Narrow skirts, close shoulder lines, long tightly fitted sleeves, long vertical openings, and deep v-necklines only accent her extreme height. She should wear skirts that give her softness and breadth – such as dirndl skirts, widely pleated skirts, circular or extremely flared skirts, gathered tiers, and perky bouffant styles. Flaring peplums over slim skirts help to cut her height down. Boxy jackets, full capes, contrasting jackets and skirts are excellent. Drawstring necklines, high collars, full gathered sleeves, doman sleeves, or shirring all create soft flattering details.

1950s Silhouette -The Short Plump Girl.


The short miss can really do without any added width – so do avoid full or extremely flared skirts, horizontal tiers or flounces. In general, trim tailored styles or simple clothes with a minimum of decor in detail are best. neither should her clothes be tightly fitted, for a narrow confining skirt, tight sleeves, and a smoothly fitted bodice would only emphasize her contours. Gored skirts with a slight flare and pleated skirts with their vertical line emphasis provide flattering fullness without increasing the silhouette. A short stocky person appears more slender when hemlines are slightly long – something to remember especially if fashion favors knee length skirts. Slightly fitted tailored jackets are better than short boxy jackets or capes.If weight is a real problem – stick with slenderizing sold colors.

1950s Silhouette -The Petite figure.




This lady should select garments and accessories that are in harmony with her petite quality.
Flares, flounces and puffs will dwarf her. Wear skirts with moderate fullness. Avoid skirts and bodices which are divided into many smaller areas. Wide brim hats are not a good idea. decorative details should never be horizontal in line. Use narrow edgings and small buttons.Jackets with a slight flare are becoming to the petite figure. Petite girls can be either narrow or wide in the hips. The decision to wear a circle or gamine silhouette is entirely yours, but be honest with yourself and ask a girlfriend for her opinion.

1950s Silhouette -The Buxom girl.


This lady must avoid styles that increase her silhouette such as bouffant or circular skirts or those with gathered tiers or bustle effects. Short puffy sleeves, wide flaring sleeves, built out shoulders and peplums add pounds to her apparent weight. Sadly for many women in the 1940's – not wearing these styles was not really an option. She should never wear tight clothes, tubular skirts, tight sleeves, or fitted bodices – these will over emphasize her contours. Three quarter length coats are better than hip length coats. Full length coats with a slight flare are better than those with an extreme flare – as was popular in the late 1950's. She should select subdued prints rather than large bold plaids, stripes and flashy prints. If she is concerned about her size – she should wear solid colors. Large hats will help her appear more diminutive.

1950s Silhouette -The Lucky Girl.


The woman who is neither too tall nor too short, neither thin nor plump, can wear just about any style that suits her fancy. But even the well proportioned woman has to be sure of line and figure.
It is astounding how many women I see who have fabulous figures and then go and ruin it all by wearing ugly patterns or mismatched lines in jackets and skirts.

Source: Clothing Construction and Wardrobe Planning 1954 – Dora Lewis.

Written by: Glamourdaze ( and used with permission, which is much appreciated.


See more RETRO GUIDES for fashion advice, tips and tricks and buyers guides.

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