Keeping the 50’s Alive: 1950’s Inspired Costumes!

Retro Dee is a regular contributor to The Grooveyard’s website, writing about music, fashion and other trends of the 1950s.  Check out her blog, Retro Dee’s Guide to the Best Era Ever here, and her column here every Wednesday.

Hello friends! It’s Retro Dee and I’m here to show you some great ways to pay tribute to The Best Era Ever in the form of a costume.

Halloween is almost upon us, and it’s the one time of year when dressing as a caricature of something is not only okay, but welcomed. And what better way to Keep the 50’s Alive than to dress up as something from that era? After all, the 1950’s still have a huge impact on Pop Culture and 50’s inspired Halloween costumes have been the rage since the 1980’s. In this post, I will show you some packaged costumes, as well as hopefully inspire you on how to put together your own costume that pays tribute to The Best Era Ever.

Packaged Costumes

These are by far the most clichéd, unimaginative costumes you can find. They come in packages from companies like Spirit, Leg Avenue and Rubie’s and many more. Many of these tend to be on the sexy side because that’s where most women’s costumes veered once Halloween became an adult’s holiday as well as a children’s one (around the mid-1990’s).

Car Hop Girl (aka Diner/Soda Shop Waitress) costumes sold in packages. Obviously the shoes, skates and food trays are not included. (“Betty Lou” Costume on the right by Flirtin’ with the 50’s)


You can find many of these packaged costumes at any local costume shop, but the easiest thing to do is to pick one up online (eBay has literally hundreds, and Poshmark has some you can buy for less, slightly used) Just make sure your costume will arrive in time for your Halloween party. The pros to the simple packaged costumes are you get everything in one handy-dandy package and only need to add a few accessories. The cons are that these costumes are cheaply made, over-priced and very non-creative. But despite those points, I am not condemning them. I still think they can be a positive tribute to what the Fifties were really about: having fun!


Left: Packaged “Poodle Girl” costume by SPIRIT comes a with a one-piece dress that is way too short. Right: Rubie’s 50’s Favorites “Car Hop Girl” with Junior’s Diner graphic on back. Adorable design, but unfortunately only available in OSFA for adults.


For every costume supply store, there is a Poodle skirt ensemble. I know I said a few paragraphs above, that you should wear what’s fun and anything goes and blah blah blah… but I highly suggest that if you want to do a poodle skirt/sock hop costume, at least make sure the skirt is tea length. The costumes below still border on cheesy, but I really like that they at least tried to capture the essence of the era by making the skirts on the longer side.

These costumes are a typical caricature of the 1950’s, but with a bit more authenticity to them due to the correct length skirts. And let’s face it, they are cute!


While you’ll sometimes find thin cotton or felt, in these type of “off the assembly line” costumes, poodle skirts are often made from a shiny, light weight polyester. This kind of material is frequently used in packaged superhero capes as well. I’m gonna just go ahead and assume that it’s because they’re cheaper to produce that way. Thin, shiny polyester is always indicative of a costume,  but during the Halloween season, you can get away with it.

Typical poodle skirt costume made with shiny polyester material.


While the vast majority of the poodle skirt costumes come in a pink and black color scheme, but if you look around enough, you’ll see that other colors are also available.

This classic poodle skirt costume by Hip Hop 50’s Shop comes in an array of colors.


If you don’t want to be yet another sock hop-going, poodle skirt-wearing gal nor do you want to be another car hop, you can also find less common packaged costumes such as a Rebellious Teen or a Bowling League Queen. And there are even costumes in which you can become a Lucy look-alike or just your everyday happy-go-lucky 50’s Housewife.


Other 50’s caricature costumes include a Rebellious Teen and a Bowling Queen. (Bowling Queen costume by Flirtin’ with the 50’s)


Left: I Love Lucy costume by Fun World. Right: 50’s Housewife by Rubie’s


Home Made Costumes

Personally, I haven’t a clue how to sew anything, (except maybe a button) therefore I can not make my own costume, dress, skirt, etc… But if you have the skills, you can make a poodle skirt, waitress uniform, housewife costume, bowling ensemble and so on, of your very own.

There are a ton of patterns you can buy online and you can custom make whatever you wish to your liking. Personalize it however you want, and if you’re sewing it on your own, you will be spending A LOT less than if you buy from someone else!


An example of the many patterns that are available for you to make your own costume.


(TIP: Don’t wear a “flip” do if you want an authentic 50’s look. If you are just going for Malt-Shop era in general, then fine. But the bouffant hair and “flip do’s” did not happen until the early-mid 1960’s.)

From Your Own Retro Wardrobe

Here’s where you can take some pieces from your very own retro wardrobe and mix and match. You can get out that swing skirt, pair it with a cute retro-inspired cardigan and put on a pair of saddle shoes and a scarf and you are instantly ready for Halloween (or a sock hop if you can manage to find one.)

I love this option because it allows me to be the world’s oldest teenager who somehow got stuck in a time warp… whereas if I dressed like this on a normal day, I’d look like I was ready for the Looney Bin. This is why we LOVE Halloween!


Retro 50’s wardrobe staples that can be used as a costume! Cardigan by Fervour, cat shirt by Voodoo Vixen, skirt by Steady, saddle shoes by Funtasma.


That’s it, mes amis! I hope this entry has inspired you to have a safe and Happy RETRO Halloween!


pumpkin graphic from



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