Fifties' Fashion for Little Girls

A lost art among girls today is sitting with their legs together. I think it is because they rarely wear dresses.

But fifties' fashions for school girls was all about the dresses. We never wore pants. Actually it wasn't allowed. The teachers even measured our skirts to see if they were immodestly short. The way they did this was to have you kneel on the schoolroom tiles to make sure the skirt brushed the floor.

Dress Pattern for Girls featuring 3 girls with different style dresses from the 1950s
1950's Girls Dress Pattern
1950's Dresses

In the 1950's, girls wore full skirted dresses with puff sleeves.  Cotton poplin in a gingham check was a popular fabric choice for their school outfits. I think red plaid dresses were standard fare for the first day of the school year.

Pinafores were sometimes worn over the dress making a two-piece outfit. The sleeveless pinafore is a primarily decorative garment that evolved from protective apron days. They often had a ruffle at the sleeve and was tied in a sash with a bow in the back. It is open at the back with only wide straps of fabric attached to the waist that criss-cross in the back and button to the bodice in the front. In the summer I would wear the pinafore without the under dress.

Florence Eiseman Pattern

Full dress for school days back then was a puff sleeved dress with a little ruffle and string tie around the neck. It might be trimmed in rick rack or lace and often had a wide contrasting colored "V" inset in the bodice. The bodice buttoned up the back. The skirt was full and had a wide sash tied in a big bow.

This dress I am wearing for school pictures in 1957 was a red and white gingham checked dress with the standard full skirt. It had a red corduroy sleeveless jumper to wear over it when the weather turned cold. My hair is in a pony tail and I had matching hair barrettes. I'm surprised my bangs are a decent length as Mama usually whacked them off too short right before picture day.

School Picture from 1957 of girl wearing gingham checked dress with hair in pony tail and bangs
1957 School Picture
Typical Fifties School Dress

Fifties' Underwear

We usually wore a white cotton full slip with a tiered skirt. Some of my slips had a nylon tricot bodice and a soft tulle skirt that was much less scratchy than the can-cans or crinolines we wore for church. Cotton or nylon panties could be bought with the days of the week embroidered on them. It didn't take long for you to not care if you wore Thursday's underwear on Monday. Our socks were either white cotton bobby socks with a folded cuff  or a rayon Lastex anklet trimmed in lace or embroidered with little birds.

Saddle Shoes

The most iconic and classic of mid-century footwear would have to be the saddle shoe or saddle oxford. This durable and comfortable shoe got its name from the contrasting leather piece that is attached to the upper mid-section of the shoe in a fashion resembling a horse's saddle. This shoe was popular throughout the 1930's, 1940's, and the 1950's and were often seen at teen dances. Black and white oxfords were most prevalent but navy, red, burgundy, and browns could be found as well.

Although today they evoke a sense of nostalgia like no other garment I wore during the fifties, back then I begged my mother for any type of shoe than the indestructible saddle oxford.

Black patent leather shoes were most often worn for dress with white sandals a close second. I was happy though when I finally got to wear the stylish black or brown "penny loafers."  These loafer styled shoes had a small slit or "lip" at the top of the shoe where coins could be placed. During the 1940's and 1950's, when pay phones were prominent, dimes were placed in the slit to make emergency calls. It was in the 1960's that kids began to just put pennies in the shoes' tight fitting lip.

Advertisement from 1953 Sears Catalog feature black and white saddle oxford shoes. One is price $5.89 and one is $4.80
Saddle Oxfords from 1953 Sears Catalog
Dress Up

For parties and for church , we wore stiffly starched pastel dresses with lace trim. I loved eyelet lace dresses. Our slips were scratchy crinolines. I called them can-can slips. I loved how they looked and hated how they felt. Our socks were lace trimmed and our shoes were black patent leather Mary Jane's. We wore a flowered  and beaded fascinator that attached across the top of our head with a comb or a hair clip. Of course we had to wear white gloves and carry a small handbag just like the other fifties ladies.

Don't you find there is a sweetness, classicality, and simplicity in the fifties' fashions for girls not found in today's styles?

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