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 week.
Hello folks! It’s Retro Dee and I’m here with another swell listicle to make your vintage-living life easier!
The 1950’s were a time where there was a place for everything and everything in it’s place. Women’s accessories were no exception. In fact, they were quite important!
So today for you I have…
7 Accessories from the 50’s that no gal should be without:
1 . Purse
Right, okay, so I know you’re thinking that it doesn’t matter what era we’re in, all women can use a purse when they go out. But let’s specifically focus on purses from the 1950’s era. Truth to tell, this is not my favorite era for handbags. I find that they were so… uh, flat. Also there weren’t a heck of a lot of nice designs. The coveted lucite purses can be very pricey, so let’s say you don’t want to spend $200 plus on a collectible vintage purse from the 1950’s era. That might leave you with less options, but it’s not impossible to find something cute. In the above picture, you see a 50’s era purse that is true to the fashion, relatively inexpensive and has a cute little floral design. I got it on Etsy where you can find a slew of retro purses of all styles and price ranges.
2 . Gloves
If you were to ask me if gloves were really all that important in the 1950’s, I’d answer with a very emphatic “YES!” Gloves were not just an optional add-on, they were essential. Every lady wore gloves in the 50’s and didn’t dare leave her home without them. To us, gloves serve two purposes: over-the-top formal fashion and keeping our hands warm. But in the 50’s, they were a common, everyday sight and sign of dignity. Every lady polished off her look with a pair of gloves whether she was going to the opera or to the grocery store. Gloves were white in the spring and summer, and darker colors were worn in the winter. Other colors like soft pinks, blues and yellows were not seen until the early 1960’s.
3 . Hat
Like gloves, hats were essential to finishing off a lady’s outfit. Perhaps not quite as important as gloves, (depending on where she was going) hats were usually worn in slightly more formal places such as church or a nice restaurant in the city. Hats were most often seen on mature women and very young girls, while the teen set sometimes went without. The 50’s had some very cute styles that deviated from the traditional hat. Some would cling to your head as seen in the photo above. Others were beginning to look like the “pill-box” style that Jackie Kennedy made famous in the 1960’s, but remember that the pill-box was not officially around yet in the 50’s.
4 . Sunglasses
Glasses and sunglasses with cat-eye frames were all the rage in the 1950’s. Sunglasses were worn in the summertime and came in many colors and patterns, but were always that famous fifties cat-eye shape. Vintage cat-eye sunglasses are pricey. But if you don’t want to spend a lot, you can easily get a reproduction pair from a retro-themed store for a lot less.
Another essential in the 1950’s was the handkerchief or hanky. A lady never left home without one in her purse. These were replaced by tissues in later years, but in the 50’s, a pretty cloth hanky was a common sight. Hankies then were embroidered or sometimes printed with flowers, sayings or designs. The one in the picture above has a pretty fan on it. In the 1950’s, hankies were more a sign of lady-like refinement than something you blew your nose in. They were used to dab tears away at weddings, but for the most part just carrying one was another indication of everything in its place.
For ladies in the 1950’s, compacts were both a necessary and pretty accessory. Many compacts in the 50’s were made from gold-toned metal and adorned with engravings and/or rhinestones. Compacts were often advertised in magazines and were either round or square. Some came with makeup while others were empty and could be filled. Some were large enough to hold a pack of cigarettes. Today, most foundation and blush compacts have a mirror, so we don’t need to buy a separate piece, but if you want to go all-out retro, you can get a vintage compact at a decent price and carry it along in your purse. They’re heavier though, since they were made of metal unlike today’s plastic ones.
7 . Lipstick
Another classic accessory that never seems to go out of style, lipstick is a makeup staple. Today we often opt for nudes or neutral colors to enhance our lips, but back in the 1950’s, rich reds and punchy pinks were the rage. Using an actual vintage lipstick tube would be unsanitary, but the good news is, you can still get some of the same shades they had back in the fabulous fifties, such as this Revlon lipstick in “Certainly Red” which debuted way back in 1951.
Thanks for reading!
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— Retro Dee
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