Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Delightful Discoveries - The Nifty Fifties 09.07.10

Sock Hops, Bobbie Sox, Mom's apple pie... the birth of rock and roll, roller skating waitresses at the local drive-in, and hula hoops. For many people, the television show Happy Days, with its clean cut kids and happy family life represented all that was good and simple about the 1950's.

TV was gaining popularity, with westerns like Rawhide, the comedy of shows like Howdy Doodie and sitcoms like The Honeymooners and I Love Lucy. On the big screen, movies like South Pacific and The Bridge on the River Kwai found different ways of dealing with wartime, while light-hearted movies like Singing in the Rain and Oklahoma provided a lighter tone. The nuclear age and the possibility of space travel allowed Sci-Fi movies to begin their stride with such classics as The Day the Earth Stood Still and The Creature from the Black Lagoon. The end of the decade would see the rise of "beach" movies with their bikini clad girls and fun in the sun antics. Rock 'n Roll was here to stay with the likes of performers like Chuck Berry, Bill Haley and the Comets, and the King himself, Elvis Presley.

By the end of the 50's Hawaii and Alaska had become states, and minimum wage was exactly $1.00 per hour. A loaf of bread would cost 20 cents, a gallon of milk hit a high of $1.01, and the price of a gallon of gas was 30 cents. A new home would set you back $18,500 and that second car in the garage would cost about $2200. Yet with an average annual salary of $5500.00 the American dream was alive and well.

To support the boom in automobile use and America's new found desires to see the world, the interstate system was born when President Eisenhower signed legislation funding what would become the largest and longest lasting public works infrastructure project in the history of our country.

Considered by most to be a decade of conformity and stability, it was a decade of steady growth and learning... for most. On the other side of the coin, life was not so simple, and hardly the utopia that TV has made it out to be.

America became embroiled in the Korean war in 1950, supporting South Korea in its battle against Communist control. Although an armistice in this war was signed and a cease fire took place on July 27, 1953, it would only be a little over a year before President Eisenhower would send advisers to another Asian land under siege by communists - South Vietnam.

The embers of the civil rights movement began smoldering in earnest in 1955 when Rosa Parks, an African-American, refused to give up her seat on a bus for a white passenger - then considered an act of civil disobedience. The social fabric of the nation was forever changed.

The Cold War was firmly a fact of life, and the threat of nuclear war loomed too close for comfort as Fidel Castro, a supporter of communism, worked fervently to overthrow the existing Cuban government.

Russia edged the US out in the space race, launching its first satellite, Sputnik, in 1957. The US would counter 4 months later when the Explorer 1 was successfully launched.

Technology, science, and medicine were fields that gained ground steadily as a result, leading to many great discoveries: The polio vaccine was developed by Dr Jonas Salk in 1952; the structure of DNA as it is now accepted was discovered by Francis Crick and James Watson in 1953; Haloid Corporation built the first photocopy machine; and NASA came into being.

I hope you enjoy my look at the nifty fifties.

Women's fashion were, for the most part, still demure and conservative. Hats, which no wardrobe was complete without in prior times, were becoming more passe as bouffant hairdos came into vogue late in the decade - although Audrey Hepburn did set a new standard for hats in Breakfast at Tiffany's. Jewelry didn't change much from the forties, although multiple strands as well as single chokers of simple beads and pearls were a mainstay. Young girls were comfortable in capri pants and saddle shoes.

(l-r, top to bottom)
1950s AUTHENTIC VINTAGE Blue Floral Print Full Skirt Dress from clevervintage
Peachy Keen Vintage 50's Wiggle Dress and Shorty Jacket from Planetclairevintage
50s capri pants and top green grey and yellow striped pantsuit from brighteststar
50's Deep Teal Pleated Day Dress from craftycrowvintage
1950's fawn beaded necklace from Thrush
1950s Shoes Pumps Natural Mesh and Ivory 2 Tone Sz 7 from JuneeMoonVintage
Vintage 50s Basket Tan Purse Clutch from FiregypsyVintage
Vintage SODA FOUNTAIN Saddle Shoes from SmallEarthVintage
Breakfast at Tiffany's Vintage Hat from LindaLeighShoppe
Vintage Black Cat Eye Eyeglasses Frame France from Vintage50sEyewear

In his role in Rebel without a Cause, James Dean immortalized the tough guy biker and made his persona the iconic look for guys of the 50s, contrasted of course with the clean cut conformist look that Richie Cunningham portrayed in Happy Days or the hapless Moondoggie of Beach Blanket fame! Rockabilly was also a popular look!

(l-r, top to bottom)
Vintage Black western ROCKABILLY suit from VintageRetroChic
Happy Days Are Yours And Mine- 50's mens Argyle Sweater from littleveggievintage
Vintage Men's Saddle Shoes- Oxfords Black and White- 11B from Yesterdayand2day
Wild Tiki Party Rockabilly Hot Rod 50s Vintage Mens Hat from maybel57

And just a tad of pop culture to round out the tribute! Cable TV, DVRs and IPods were still a LONG ways off!

Large 1950s 16mm Projector - Revere Model 48 - With Case from WellWudJaLookAtThat
Vintage Zenith Portable Record Player .. Model HP-6V from TheFancyLamb

Tomorrow I'll honor the decade of the 1960's, so be sure to check back then to continue the journey down memory lane! If you have any great items from the 60's you'd like featured, as always just click here for the submission form to e-mail me the link to the page of the shop where I can see your items or your favorites from another shop. You can also find a list of my future feature themes by clicking on "Be Featured" in the right sidebar :)

See all you hip dudes and groovy chicks tomorrow!


vintage brightest star said...

Great article! I love the 50s, a time when the American dream still seemed attainable. The 50s gave us Rock n Roll, which truly sparked a change in peoples thinking. The fashion was simple, sleek lines, beautiful, shapely, innocent. Modern art, Elvis, television, bobby socks, records to be-bop to. As for the conformity, well that turned into rebellion, the cause was freedom of thinking and being, enter the 60s, can't wait for the next blog. Lovely selection of clothing!
brightest star

Linda Pruitt said...

Karen--This is a great article! The 50's were a wonderful time! (Even with the political stuff!) Sometimes, I wish we were still there! I guess that's why so many of us like "vintage" items!

CleverVintageClothing.com said...

Thank you for including our floral dress, and what a great blog!

TheFancyLamb said...

What a fabulous collection of amazing vintage pieces!

JacBer said...

What a gorgeous collection! I've been mesmorized for ages :-)

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