Tuesday, June 21, 2011

21 June 1957 “Summer is a Comin In: Fashion”

Today is officially the first day of Summer. I can’t believe it is here already. Our weather, here in the North East, has also made for a rather long and wet Spring. I for one have rather enjoyed it, as it has been lovely to have cooler weather a bit longer. We often don’t get much Spring here on the Cape, as we find winter ending and Summer beginning almost overnight. Not this year, as the rain and cool temps have made for a wet Spring.

Now, however, Sumer is icumen in. I have always loved this song and it has always been humming about my head this time of year, so why not enjoy it before we peruse some lovely Summer fashions for 1957:

pucci1 These fun looks by Emilio Pucci are beginning to show the move towards more Pop and Graphic prints in fashion. Pucci will, as many of you know, be a forerunner in fabric style in the 1960’s.pucci57 His graphic looks for 1957 and what lies aheadpucci60s .

57summerfashion1 We can see here that the silhouette is still very 1950’s, yet we are beginning to see the skirt rise. The bottom right boxy look and more 20’s inspired hats are leading into the trend of the 1960’s. I really do love the looks from 1955-1964. This is the time period in which I believe I will continue to dress, as the variety is there as well as many classic looks. The ultra femininity of the 50’s and then the fun bolder and cleaner use of that same shape in the early 60’s. Once we hit the mini, the maxi dress and hot pants, I’m out. A nice A-line dress just above the knee can be very lovely, but a mini dress, with blousy sleeves and boots looks great if you are 16 and on everyone else, to me, it seems too young.

57pedalpusher Pedal pushers were the cool day craze in 1957. Here we see an everyday young lady enjoying them. They were a bit higher than a Capri, which were available and in the vernacular of the fashion of the time. There were also clam diggers which were a longer short, longer than a Bermuda. simplicitypattern In this pattern I would say the pair on the top right, though obviously meant to be pedal pushers as she is next to a bike, I would consider a clam digger, while a pedal pusher would be a bit longer and of course the Bermuda shorts on the bottom right. Perhaps clam diggers are just an East coast term. The bottom left would actually be considered a Capri at the time, as they were slim fit pant, but not as tight as a cigarette pant. Obviously the Bermuda and the Capri were both named for the vacation locale where they gained popularity and were meant to signify a ‘holiday’ spirit.

This summer, 1957, the Pedal Pusher would even inspire Karl Perkins in his hit “Pink Pedal Pushers”:

And we cannot talk of summer fashion without mentioning bathing costumes. 57bathingsuit This lovely little number is showing the graphic prints we are seeing more and more of as the decade ends. I love this models figure and wonder if they did a certain type of exercise to get the nipped in waist and full hips while still being quite skinny. Today’s thin models are just straight rails that look more like 10 year old boys.

Picture 002 I adore this suit and it would be so flattering on many figures. And you could easily tie a nice full wrap skirt around this, head to the store or afternoon party and look very put together. 57bathingsuits3 Here are some lovely ‘real’ ladies in 1957 enjoying the beach. Shorts, dresses, swimsuits and head scarves, all appropriate beach attire.

I haven’t spoken much lately about sewing. It is still happening, only I have been so busy with preparing the house for sale and all that entails, it has slowed somewhat. However, with Summer here and the inspiration of the graphic looks, I found some lovely fabric the other day.

newfabric Here it is. I am not sure why it will not photograph properly, but it is dark navy background (it is not black) with lovely pink and green graphics. You can see how the fabric has a border pattern, so I am going to make a dress with this fabric as the skirt and that pattern along the bottom. Then I bought some plain navy cotton to match and the top will be solid navy to match the background of this. I think it will feel fresh and cool and I shall share it with you when it is done.

I hope all of you are excited about the coming Summer, and my ‘down under’ followers, I suppose you are coming into Winter.

I realized today that I listed yesterday’s news with the wrong date. It was June 20 yesterday and today is the 21st. So, there is a new News day today and you simply click the large icon on the right to go to that page.

Happy Homemaking!


  1. I think it is interesting that we all think that everybody in the past was slim and yet the group of women in swimsuits are all overweight. Maybe most of the younger people were slim but these middle aged ladies are definitely not. I'm not trying to be negative, just pointing out something that is interesting to me because I always buy into the idea that people from the past were always effortlessly slim.


  2. I don't know that I would say overweight. I think those styles tend to make them look a little larger but still I would say they are probably in healthy weight ranges. I could be way off though. :)

  3. I agree that the styles aren't the most flattering and the women are definitely not obese but none of them are what I would call slim and I'd bet they would all fall into the "overweight" BMI category.


  4. I don't think I ever felt that ALL women in the 1950's were glamorously thin. I believe, much like today, women had many body types. What was true is that women in film and even the thinner models had more 'womanly' bodies. I also find that the fashions of the day ARE good for a fuller figure as a full skirt is much kinder to wider hips than low rise jeans and slouchy uggs shall ever be.
    I do believe, and I think there is data as well, that on average, people today are heavier. We must remember that by 1957 more prepared easy food higher calories are available, not as much as today, but well on the way. Yet, many vintage clothes are much smaller than today's 2X 3X clothing. There were not really shops that catered to the heavier gal, though a 38, 40, and 42 existed (those being the actual waist measurements for those sizes.
    The amount of activity was greater than, not as much sitting about, but we must remember all that is modern today began in the 1950's. Ladies could suddenly sit in front of the soaps eating chocolates. TV dinners loaded with calories and cheaper sugar and other products allowed for an abundance of sweets on hand that were completely missing during the war and the leaner Depression years. I think, however, it is fairly safe to say we are, on whole, much heavier today.
    And I showed that photo to show that women, even when 'heavier' still seemed to have style. Showing their curves, accessorizing with scarves, wearing dresses and not a see of fat legs sticking out of too large t-shirts with random sayings on them.

  5. “Once we hit the mini, the maxi dress and hot pants, I’m out.” – Me too! I simply HATE that look, it doesn’t become any one. It was just pure ugly. But I have found out that’s the way fashion is – it will always be followed by its opposite. I remember the fifties had a comeback in the eighties and was then followed by grunge, which was really ugly. I love fashion from 1947 (the New Look) until 1964, then the fifties look ended. I love a lot of fashion from the forties too, but this is my favourite period.

    Aaah, vintage bathing suits. I love them. I think they are much more becoming and flattering than bathing suits of today. I would love to own a reproduction one day. A white bikini (with high waisted pants) with big red polkadots and a vintage bathing suit like those Esther Williams wore. But all those I’ve found on the internet are way too expensive, and add to that expensive shipping to Denmark – if they will ship to Denmark. So perhaps this could inspire you to an “inexpensive bathing suit” blog post! ;)

    Your dress sounds lovely, I cannot wait to see the fisnished result. :)

  6. my opinion on the 'nipped in waist' is that most of those women were probably just wider in the hips from childbirth. many were probably able to lose the 'baby weight' but perhaps kept the wider hips?? of course, i know nothing of the past, so it's just a theory.

  7. So, this comment is years late, but I figured you'd appreciate it all the same.

    From what I've gathered, the reason swimsuit models were so hourglass-y back then was not just diet and exercise (or photo manipulation, though that did occur back then in cruder, more obvious forms).

    It was the suit itself.

    Swimsuits back then could be heavily structured, exactly like a girdle or corsolette (the latter would be called a body briefer, in modern terms). That pretty stretch outer fabric could conceal metal boning, layers of heavy duty elastic, and zippers. Such a suit would have been imperative for models (and celebrities) of the period, to enhance their figures.

    I don't know if it was terribly common outside advertising and Hollywood, but corsetry companies (like Spirella in the UK and Spencer in the US) could and did fabricate structured swimsuits. They were expensive, though.

    There's a great website that delves into the mid-century heyday of corsetry and girdles (and the site has a photo of just such a swimsuit). I think you'd enjoy reading it; it has heaps of fascinating information on vintage foundation garments, which helped me a lot when I first started wearing them. Just do an internet search for the word "Corsetiere." It should be the first site in the results list. (I didn't include the link because I don't know if that's allowed in comments, or if it would seem like spam).

    I'd like to thank you for keeping this blog running. It's been a pleasure to read it from the beginning, and I've learned a lot more about the period from your trip to 1955 and beyond...and quite a bit about myself.


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