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How To Get a 1950s Silhouette

Mid-century fashions are so popular at the moment, but the main reason more people don’t embrace 1950s fashions is because they dont naturally have a typical 50s hourglass figure.  It might surprise you to know that this isn’t a case of biology (although it’s true that women are getting taller and larger as the decades go on), rather it’s a case of wearing the right underwear underneath your fifties fashions.

1950 Silhouette

You were a lucky (and unusual) lady indeed if you could get the required 50s silhouette without a little help from your underwear! You might be one of those fortunate creatures who is blessed with a naturally hourglass figure (in which case I envy you!) but the rest of us need a little more help!

So, what do you need to create that iconic hourglass figure? They key thing to remember is that it’s all about ratios. It doesn’t matter what size you are, the main thing is to create a contrast between your bust, waist and hips.

Nipping in Your Waist

A key item of underwear for a 50s look is a waspie. A waspie is a short under-bust corset which nips in the waist. You can go for a vintage one, if you’re lucky enough to find one, like this genuine 1950s waspie which is also studded which rhinestones and laced with red ribbons (v sexy!)

1950s waspie corset

Or you can go for a modern alternative like this slimming vest by Esbelt (below). I wouldn’t really recommend that great favourite of women everywhere, Spanx, as they’re more geared towards smoothing out lumps and bumps rather than creating the nipped in waist. Don’t forget what you’re looking for in a 50s silhouette is a contrast between bust, waist and hips, not to look a dress size smaller!

Esbelt Bela Slimming Vest, Black

Thrust that Bust

You may or may not need help in this area. If you’re big busted it’s easier to create that contrast you’re looking for. Just make sure you choose a supportive bra (lift and separate girls!). I love the range by Curvy Kate which is great for larger busts.

Curvy Kate bra

If you’re looking for a more pronounced 50s shape go for a bullet or cone bra, like this one from Fleur Du Mal.

Bullet Bra

Flare those Hips!

Lets face it, lots of us don’t need help getting larger bottoms and hips, and thankfully this is one area which really suits 1950s fashions. Accentuate what you have with a full petticoat underneath your skirt, and go as big as you dare!  If you’re lucky enough to find a genuine vintage petticoat then snap it up while you can – I particularly love this one (below) and the idea of flashing a little bit of red petticoat when you sit down!

Vintage Red Nylon Organdy Ruffled Full Petticoat 1950s

If you can’t find the right vintage petticoat there are lots of companies out there who sell beautiful repro petticoats. Check out Vivien of Holloway for petticoats in pretty pastel colours.

Once you’ve got the right underwear you’re ready to choose your perfect 1950s dress to go on top of it. There are no rules with vintage fashion, just choose something you love and which makes you feel great, then get out there and enjoy it!

Looking for vintage fashion? Take a look at my Vintage Directory if you’re looking for great vintage online and in your local area (wherever that is!), and if you’re looking for some inspriation check out my 1950s fashion gallery.

Top image source and copyright: This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

 

2 thoughts on “How To Get a 1950s Silhouette

  1. Betty Cooper

    Lovely post, thank you.

    Of course, the understructures are an essential factor in getting the right shape for the any period in the past. To look like any respectable women before 1950 you just have to wear a girdle or corset. How tight depends on the era and how fashionable you want to be!

    There is another aspect for shape. Today many people don’t wear vintage, they “dress up” as if it’s theater or some extraordinary event. THe 1950s women saw it as being normal, right etc, anything else was wrong. Therefore she looked at her role models (movies, the older girl next door) and wanted to be like them Not only did they copy shape, but movements, speech etc.

    The 1950s fashionable women had worn stockings, girdle etc from early teenage years….these had long term effect on her shape and movement.

    B

    Reply
  2. Sara Penney

    Is there a correct way to layer these items?
    I’ve found a beautiful cincher, slip, and petticoat but I’m not entirely sure of how to wear them. Should a full slip go under a petticoat or is it even needed with a petticoat at all? And should I wear my cincher over the slip to avoid chafing and pinching? Everything but the cincher is authentic vintage from the 50s, so I’d love to be able to wear it authentically as well.
    Thanks!

    Reply

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