The 1950’s decade was the first decade that embraced women wearing shorts for more than just beach wear. 1950’s Shorts came in several lengths and styles to fit a variety of leisure activities women enjoyed.
The shortest of the 1950s shorts were “short shorts.” These came to about 6 inches above the knee and had classic 1950’s high waists and side zippers. These shorts were mostly worn on the beaches, or on pin up models. Another name for these shorts is culottes. Culottes could be short or a bit longer and have wide leg openings that flair out from a tight waist and hip.
These are the most popular style short worn by vintage retro clothing fans. The high waisted short slims the tummy and creates a thinner waist than low rise shorts. The short length of legs makes them sexy (that is if you have a thighs for it!)
The most popular shorts length for women was the Bermuda short. These came to about 3 inches above the knee, again with high waists and side zip seams. They could fit rather loose and baggy just like pedal pusher pants, or more fitted and slimming (much like Bermuda shorts available today.)
Short soften did not have pockets (they added to much bulk to a slim silhouette) but some had ornamental pockets that had angled slit pockets. The ad on the left is an example of angled pockets.
The longest 1950’s shorts
could also be called pants. Pedal pushers, also known as clam diggers, toreador pants, motor scooter slacks, calypso, and pirate pants all came to just below the knee with either wide straight legs or cuffed bottoms. These short pants were developed for cyclists who wanted the comfort of shorts and the safety of pants that wouldn’t tangle in bicycle chains.
It was popular among teens to roll up their jeans into the pedal pusher length. Many jeans came pre rolled as well making the pedal pusher shorts/pants common among women as well. Read more about 1950s pants styles.
All 1950’s shorts were inspired by casual sport and travel wear with materials suitable for warm weather days. Cotton and synthetic “wrinkle free” fabrics were the most popular. Solid, tropical colors like lime green, sherbet orange, and Caribbean blue were in demand as well as checks and prints in the same color family. Think “tacky tourist” clothing and your not far off from 50’s summer fashion.
It was very common for women to buy a four piece matching clothing set with shirt, long pants, peddle pushers, and culotte shorts. This way women always had a matching outfit to wear for all kinds of weather. If shirts didn’t match they were usually a light colored, short sleeve or sleeveless, blouse.
What 1950s shorts do you want to wear? Here are some new vintage inspired shorts and pants for your vintage wardrobe: