Summer Fashions of the 1950s!

Retro Dee writes about music, fashion and other trends of the 1950s on this site.  Check out her blog, Retro Dee’s Guide to the Best Era Ever here, and her column here every Wednesday.

Hello mes amis! It’s Retro Dee with another Fifties Fashion Fix!

Today we’ll be taking about bathing suits and I know you love that!

We’ll also be exploring the charming fashions of the 1950’s for the warmer months. In addition to those cute retro-bathing suits, there were also many outfits to beat the summer heat!

Ca. 1953 sewing pattern illustrating looks for the summertime.

1950’s Bathing Suits

Anyone who says the 1950’s were unfair to women, should check out the swimwear! A lady was considered sexy without the need to run around nearly naked with bikini floss up her butt. It’s called class, folks! And believe it or not, class can be sexy! 1950’s swimwear was both glamorous and sexy. And the men had some pretty skimpy bathing trunks… not that I’m complaining.

marina del mar swim suit ad, 1958

Early 50’s ad for Jantzen swim suits feat. a curvy gal and some skimpy trunks for men!

Another ca. early 1950’s Jantzen ad feat. a man standing on his head. Note the $1 bathing cap ad in the lower left!

Bathing Caps

Many gals wore bathing caps to swim (which let’s face it, aren’t exactly today’s idea of stylish) They didn’t even feel stupid about it either. Quite the opposite! Bathing caps were actually a fashionable way to keep your hair dry. Some were even adorned with rubber flowers or other embellishments. Imagine going to the pool and hearing “Oh, Shirley, I just love your bathing cap.” Different times, folks, different times!

So when you think of swimming the 1950’s, you should also consider that bathing caps were a popular must-have of the day. A lady could have her choice for between $1 and $5.

Kleinert’s Bathing Cap ad, 1956


If you weren’t pool or beach bound, you could always enjoy the warm weather in a cute pair of shorts. In the 50’s, shorts were available in 3 lengths: Bermuda length (just below the knee), medium length (at or above the knee), or, like in the 1958 hit song by The Royal Teens, “Short-Shorts”!

1950’s pattern illustrates 3 lengths of shorts.

Play Suits and Sets!

Another option for ladies in the summer was an adorable playsuit! Some playsuits were actually sets; a romper with a skirt that you could take on and off optionally. I know! How cute is that?! And absolutely everything matched!

Ca. 1957 ad for Sun ‘n Fun convertible clothing perfect for tennis, golfing, bicycling or dress up!


To add to the charm of Summer in the 50’s, there were parasols. (Yes! Ladies still used parasols in the 1950’s!) What could be more romantic than a stroll by the lake with your sweetie and a parasol? I can’t think of anything. While women of today would undoubtedly get odd looks carrying a parasol around town, it was a completely normal accessory on a sunny day back in the 1950’s. Parasols were another example of the charm and elegance that was carried over to the 20th Century from the Victorian era.

These two gals with matching parasols in this sweet Bobbie Brooks ad encapsulate the charm of a 1950’s summer.


Sunglasses in the 50’s were inspired by the cat-eye glasses that gals wore. Some were even embellished with rhinestones and patterns to make them even more chic. There is a certain Old Hollywood glamour about them that is to this day desirable!

Men wore “Wayfarer” sunglasses which were created in 1956. (Buddy Holly wore them on a daily basis in the summertime, and Roy Orbison wore them pretty much always.)

All kinds of lenses for sunglasses were available in the 50’s, including prescription lenses. Some of the companies offering sunglasses were Polaroid, Ray Ban (the original Wayfarers!), Fosta-Grantly and Cool Ray. You could say that stylish sunglasses were like Rock n Roll– a fad that ended up sticking around forever!

Cool Ray Emeraldlite Sunglasses ad circa 1950’s

I hope you enjoyed this post!

For more, stay tuned and please follow Retro Dee’s Guide to the Best Era Ever here on WordPress.

You can also follow Retro Dee on Twitter @RealRetroDee and Instagram @mariepascal82



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