Women’s 1950s suits. Pictures from 1950, 1951, 1952, and 1953. More to come plus the history of women’s vintage suits.
The Bar Suit
Christian Dior’s most iconic outfit from his first collection was the Bar Suit. It consisted of a jacket and skirt, like all suits, but all done in the New Look shape that was to sweep the globe.
Some jackets were made with smaller peplums and rounded or peter pan collars. The jacket could have two front flap pockets. They had long sleeves, occasionally puffed a little bit at the shoulder. Jackets could be cuffed at the wrists, or have none.
They were often worn buttoned up all the way without anything else, but were also often worn with a coordinating blouse underneath and the top button left undone.
The skirt was full, either pleated, accordion or knife pleated like Dior’s first (very small pleats) or a circle skirt. It needed to have petticoats underneath to hold its shape. The skirt came to mid-calf. Some suits were made with a slimmer pencil skirt instead, especially in the second half of the decade, although a fuller skirt remained more popular.
Fabrics used for Bar Suits included wool, tweed, rayon, polyester and silk shantung. Navy and camel were popular, as well as bright red and green. Pastels became popular colors for just about everything in the ‘50s too. Plaid was used often in suits. The jacket and skirt often matched, but could also be in two coordinating colors – Dior’s first bar suit had a pale yellow jacket with a navy skirt.
The Chanel Suit
Gabrielle Chanel had closed her design house in 1939 due to the war. The fashion house remained closed after the war, but made a stunning comeback in 1954. Chanel absolutely hated the New Look. It was rigid, uncomfortable and hard to move in. She fought back with a look that has become a classic – a slim suit consisting of a straight skirt and short, boxy jacket. It was tailored and the picture of simplicity. This was an updated version of her cardigan suit that was popular in the ‘20s.
The jacket was cut straight with soft shoulders. It fell to the hip, had no collar, and sometimes had cuffs. It was decorated with gold or covered buttons, bows and braid along the edges in contrasting colors. Jackets often had two small patch pockets on the front too. On some jackets a very little pointed or peter pan collar was added. Jackets were lined in satin or silk. The blouses worn with the jacket often matched the lining.
The skirt fell from the waist to just below the knee, and was cut straight down, sometimes flaring slightly at the bottom. It wasn’t decorated like the jacket, but was made and lined in the same fabrics.
Tweed was Chanel’s fabric of choice for her suits, and they came in a range of colors including the ever-popular black/white and red.
These suits were shown with large, gaudy costume jewelry and boxy, quilted leather handbags – two more Chanel trademarks that are still seen from the fashion house today.