AUTHOR SUNDAY – Did we really dress this way in the 1950s?

Early 1950s High School Fashions


Jean Butterworth

It is almost funny to recall those days of high school in the early 1950s. What we thought was “cool” (in 21st century language) seems a bit odd now.


But still most of all I loved the 1950’s music.  Elvis Presley was our age and had just started his career. Sometimes I can catch a tune on the radio and it brings back so many great memories.

Fashion for girls was in tune with the beginning of rock and roll.  We wore the slim fitted skirts mid-calf and wool plaid pleated shirts with a belt. The tops were short sleeved pastel sweaters with a square of silk around our neck or a sweater worn with a white Peter Pan collar. Shoes were brown loafers with above the ankle socks.  In my school girls did not were pants to school.  A favorite for some girls was to wear your boyfriend’s football letter sweater, even being way over-sized for them.

Boys wore blue jeans or slacks and solid color or plaid shirts. For dress they would wear the popular pink dress shirt with a tie. Brown shoes for causal wear or for dress, white bucks.  Tennis shoes were not worn to classes, only to play basketball.1950'

Girl’s hairstyles were short or mid shoulder, parted on the side with some bangs on the forehead. Straight hair was not the mode, having no curling irons, straighteners, hair dryers or styling gel.

Hairstyles for boys were short, parted on the side with a little help from hair oil. Old Spice was the favorite cologne for the guys.

1950's boysMajorettes marching in front of the band wore one piece white satin costumes with short pleated shirts. No bare mid drifts! White leather cowboy boots with white tassels completed the outfit along with a drum hat that fastened under the chin.

Female cheerleaders wore ballerina wool long skirts, which had reversible colors of white or blue. Tops were pull over sweaters with the school’s letter on the front.

The Home-Coming Queen Court was a big event and selection was by popularity. The three girls selected wore suits and small hats.  They carried large bouquets of white mums out on the playing field where the homecoming court was presented during the half time at the football game.

There were not many dances held at the school due to distances the students lived from the school.  My school was a county school and pulled high school students from outlying communities such as Taylorville, Duncanville, Romulus and Coker. The Junior- Senior Prom brought out the evening dresses and rented tux for the guys.   Usually, we had a beauty walk every year and already evening gowns were strapless.  Some of the evening dresses were even home made, as mine was.

Fashions do change, but I hope we don’t go back to the 1950’s era!  I’m content with the casual dress of today for men and women.

Chinaberries and Other Memories of Alabama by Jean Butterworth



  1. Ahhh..those were the days

  2. Yes, we had to have our gloves and hat on for Church. Don’t think we looked this good.

  3. Yes, we had to have our gloves and hat on for Church. Don’t think we looked this good.

  4. The style need to come back,bring back the 50s

  5. The style need to come back,bring back the 50s

  6. I have these patterns and I’ve made several retro dresses for myself. Everytime I wear one with high heels everyone talks about how pretty the dress is. These patterns had class and a dress “fit” really well. You always wear them with foundation garments and silk stockings.


  8. Much more classy and polished than today’s styles. For crying out loud, people wear pajamas to the store now!!


  10. Clothes were beautiful then. When children were “dressed up” they also put on their best manners. I think a lot of behavioral problems would be eliminated by wearing nice clothes.

  11. Still see some men (75+) wear hi-cuff jeans while youngsters wear & step on that much under their feet ! ! !

  12. My mother didn’t leave the house without full make-up, in heels with gloves until I was in Jr High school. I always thought she looked beautiful.

  13. I was born in 1946 – yes a Baby Boomer and therefore my most formative years (in my opinion) were the 1950’s. I think the 50’s were absolutely wonderful. I was such a fortunate child, raised with a lot of love AND a lot of manners. RESPECT was huge back then and I look back and think the clothes were very ATTRACTIVE ! We were all neat and our clothes fit as they were supposed to do. My Mother made MANY of my clothes and they were so cute. As you stated we never wore pants to school – we wore Bass Weejuns, penny loafers — our shoes were always clean and shiny as was the copper penny inside the slot. My childhood truly was like the T.V. show “FATHER KNOWS BEST”. I believe the 50’s were the greatest decade, certainly in my life and I loved the clothes – just think, that’s when “Pedal Pushers” came out – we road our bikes all the time – no IPhones or computers – no real technology except those wonderful things called televisions and the only ” drugs ” we had heard about was the medicine you got at the”Drug” Store . It was a time of love and peace and I think the clothes reflected all of that !!!!!!!

  14. Women dressed up to go to college football games. I can remember seeing them going into Denny Stadium with hat, gloves, high heels, etc., and they always wore stockings. No one would be caught out with bare legs, unless they were wearing sandals, and even then some women wore stockings. A life time ago….

    1. We ALSO “had” to wear girdles ALL the time – no matter how skinny we were – so our butts didn’t jiggle…and we used LOTS of hair spray so our hair didn’t move. We wore hand-me-downs with joy because that meant we were as grown up as our older sisters. We didn’t go from flat shoes to high heels – we had interim chunky heels about 1 or 1-1/2 inch high to get used to tip-toe’n around. When we were older (teens) we could wear a short veil on the front of our hats to cover our “bangs”…and light colored lipstick. We NEVER EVER word more than one ring and were feeling quite grown up if we had a watch that was so small and delicate that it was impossible to see it to tell time. We ALWAYS watched how we sat so our knees would not show – and we ALWAYS, ALWAYS kept our knees together and ankles crossed while sitting. NEVER elbows on the table – not even forearms. ALWAYS “please pass the…” and thank you. We DID ask permission to leave the table. We even knew what “ACT LIKE A LADY” meant! And our mothers were the example!

  15. Yes, I love t he l950’s ‘style’ and feel somewhat lost with the no style popular now. Too much flesh is shown by male and female in too many places….even tub-tops are now worn to church??? My first city job interview in 1957, I wore a suit, gloves and mini-high heel shoes and it impressed the interviewer, I got the job. I also loved the hats of earlier era and enjoy wearing a hat every now and then, even in 2015. I agree I think people were more polite and had better manners in the 1940’s and 1950’s. Of course, we will never go back that far but hopefully styles with become more important and stylist in near future. Memories are great to revisit!!

  16. Certainly more than we do now but not like this.

  17. Loved the skirts with crinilins . Also the penny loafers. The music was wonderful. The good old days!!

  18. I would like to see folks dress up again, with long hair in style. Long hair would looks better! I love to dress up, wear gloves and still do when possible. I’m 69 yrs old. Now the hats is another story.

    1. I love hats I could wear them all the time. They just not in right now but they will come back♡

    2. They are coming back! I saw a few during fashion week in NY. On TV . My story is my Mom made me wear hats to decoration and how hot they were.

  19. Oh yes, hat and gloves if you could afford them. My mother and aunts worked it. I have seen the pictures and have some of the accessories.

  20. Loved the fitted waist and swirly skirts we wore…. Girls worked hard for a 32/24/34 silhouette.

  21. My Mom sewed like a professional and all of our clothes. She bought a lot of patterns and material to get the job done. When we went to church we all had to wear a hat, gloves, and dress shoes. I never went on a date except in a dress with those crinoline half slips. My friends and I would share those and when it was someone’s turn to wear them all to school the next day, the rest of us wore a straight skirt, with our penny loafers and turn down socks. Never Jeans or Slacks. Swim suits were fully one piece and covered everything! Even our hair was covered in those “rubber swim caps.” Oh, and the day before we got to wear all the crinoline’s we would rush home, wash them , starch them in made up starch and hang them on clothes line to dry. What great times.

  22. I remember shopping in Mobile and my mom dressing like this.

  23. Very classy and elegant. My Aunts still dress like this.

  24. I agree, very classy and elegant! Maybe we should all revisit this era and style.

  25. I wish I could find dresses like this or a pattern to make my own. May be old-fashioned but much classier than the styles out there now.

  26. The ladies looked so lovely in the ’50’s and early 60’s. Mother looked so beautiful in shirtwaist dresses with full skirts. How I miss those days! You’ve inspired me to search for dress patterns! Thank you so much!

  27. Yes, tight waist, full petticoats underneath that fabulous skirt! Ballet slippers! Perfect attire for “square dancing” at Lake Geneva!

  28. So what did you wear to church then? What type of dress was it?

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