What they wore – 1950s Autumn and Fall

What they wore – 1950s Autumn and Fall

As the year moves into a colder season, it can be difficult to keep your vintage style. In fact, it’s one of the things I get asked the most. Taking a look at what they wore in the 1950s fall and autumn season is a great way to channel the styles of the past into your look – and as you know it’s one of my favourite ways to get some inspiration.

As with the rest of the decade, nipped in waists with a full or pencil skirt was really fashionable, for fall and autumn they just used different colours and fabrics.

My top tip as the weather gets cooler is to layer. In the deep chill of the autumn and winter season, I wear slips, blouse and skirt, a knit of some sort and then outerwear on top. A good hat stops all of the heat being lost from the top of your head and helps you to look chic.

1950s Autumn and Fall – Full skirted Dresses

As with the rest of the decade, full skirts were always popular. And you can see why. A nipped in waist with a full swishy skirt really is so flattering. Some key things to note. Tartan and various checkers are very popular during autumn, and ever now as the weather cools I find myself reaching for plaid – especially if it has a hint of red. These dresses would usually be three-quarter length sleeves or worn over a long sleeved blouse when sleeveless. Both looks are completely adorable to me. Thin coloured belts were also worn in complimentary or contrasting colours.

1950s Autumn and Fall – Pencil Dresses

Of course we couldn’t talk about the 1950s without talking about a chic pencil skirt or dress. These were often wool or tweed with fur collars and cuffs. Greys and mustard were popular alongside the tartans mentioned. Skirts and dresses would be fitted close to the body and would usually have matching buttons and belts. As with the full skirted dresses, sleeves would be longer – usually full length on a fitted sheath dress in a 1950s fall look.

1950s Autumn and Fall – Suits and Separates

As with other parts of the year, separates were a popular way for those of us who wouldn’t have had a large wardrobe to always feel put together and consistent. Much of the time, a shirt would have a matching collar to the skirt to remain co-ordinated. One item would often be tartan too, particularly in a brown, blue combination to keep it cute. Accessorising with a hint of the same fabric on the top is a great way to keep your look pulled together. You can add brightness with accessories such as bags, belts and bows at the neck.

1950s Autumn and Fall – Sweaters

As I mentioned above, one of my favourite ways to stay warm and keep your 1950s look is to loayer up with a woolen. Skirts would usually be made of a thicker wool or tweed but sometimes they would be knit – often with a matching sweater or cardigan. By using a thicker wool weight, women in the 1950s were able to keep toasty and chic. Detailing was used to add interest like interesting collar shapes, coloured panels and cabling. Shirts would be worn underneath with a collar often showing.

1950s Autumn and Fall – Cigarette Pants

After the wider legged pants of the 1940s, trousers in the 1950s slimmed to the leg for a tailored fitted look. These pants were high waisted, had pleats to mold to the body and were tapered to the leg. Often called cigarette pants, in the 1950s autumn or fall wardrobe they were made with neutral fabrics like tweed or brighter tones like woolen trousers in reds, greens and of course, tartan and plain. As with the separates, outfits were co-ordinated with accessories and by wearing jackets and blouses in neutral colours.

1950s Autumn and Fall – Coats and Jackets

Swing coats in wool would really come into their own as the seasons cool down. This was because the larger swing coat was seen as flattering and enabled the wearer to layer up with woolens and thicker fabrics underneath. Shorter “lumber jill” jackets were also worn in more casual situations. As with the suits, embellishments like fur collars would often be used.

1950s Autumn and Fall – Shoes

Although chunky mid-height heels were still worn alongside a pencil or full skirt in the 1950s autumnal period, bootees also came to the fore. These were often leather and lined with sheepskin to keep your toes lovely and warm. Ankle boots were popular, although longer boots were also available. Many working women would wear the bootees on the commute and change into the more professional heeled shoe when they arrived. Shoes would co-ordinate or provide one with a splash of colour during the dreary and cloudy days.

1950s Autumn and Fall – Hats

Hats during the fall in the 1950s didn’t just provide a chic look. They also provided warmth and were quite practical. Berets or Tam o’ shanter hats were very popular with many fashion-conscious women making them at home. These would be knitted or made with felt and one would sometimes pin a brooch or ones’ earrings to the brim for a little sparkle. As with everything, they would either contrast or co-ordinate with the rest of your outfit. Remeber to match your hat, handbag and shoes for a chic, put-together look without going overboard.

1950s Autumn and Fall – Tartan and Plaid

As I mentioned, tartan and plaid were very popular in the 1950s from autumn right through winter. I think there is something about tartan that I still love during this period. My tips are to co-ordinate and make a matching coat for your tartan pencil dress. If using the same fabric, why not pick out a colour and use it for the lining? Another option is to choose one of the colours from your tartan and make your coat in a plain fabric. That could mean you wear it with more – although there is something special about a coat matching one’s dress. Remember to match your accessories to keep it chic and simple.

I hope you have found my little round-up useful. You don’t need to sacrifice your style during the colder months. We just need to adapt our wardrobes – just as you would if you weren’t wearing a vintage inspired wardrobe.


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