Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The 1950s Look by Mike Brown

This is a companion to The 1940s Look by the same author.

While The 1940s Look dealt mainly with the trials of dressing smartly in a time of war and rationing, The 1950s Look covers the much more prosperous following decade.   Because of this its emphasis is more on fashion than the previous volume, which depicted an era where people were more concerned with stretching their resources than self-expression or following the vagaries of fashion.

This is evident in the section of The 1950s Look covering men's fashion as well as the (larger) section covering women's fashions.  The former discusses - among other things - the new foreign influences on British men's fashions: American in the beginning of the decade, and Italian towards the end.   The latter gives a year-by-year overview of women's fashions, comparing what appeared on the catwalks with what appeared in the shops.  In both mens- and womenswear there was a marked trend towards more casual dressing as the 1950s drew to an end.

As in the previous book, The 1950s Look draws on a plethora of original sources, and as well as discussing the fashions of adult men and women it covers hairstyles, makeup, fashionable body types and the clothing of children - and that new phenomenon, teenagers!  All in all it's an excellent reference guide to the 1950s.   Readers should be aware, however, that though it is subtitled "Recreating the Fashions of the Fifties" on the cover, they will have to search for more detailed sources if they really want to get The 1950s Look.

Seven Oaks : Gardners Books, 2008
ISBN 9780955272332

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