Housewife Dresses of the 1950s

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The 1950's housewife stereotype shows a woman who spent her time at home, catering to her husband and children.
The 1950's housewife stereotype shows a woman who spent her time at home, catering to her husband and children. (Image: George Marks/Retrofile/Getty Images)

The decade of the 1950s often conjures images of celebrities like Lucille Ball and Marilyn Monroe. Indeed, it was a glamorous decade for the Hollywood images that remain imprinted on many minds today, but in day-to-day life, housewives of the 1950s needed practical clothing options. While certain television shows from that era depicted a housewife in heels and pearls, not all women followed that stereotype. However, many wore dresses with sensible heels. As women wanted to look good but also needed to cook and clean, fashion in the 1950s was practical yet attractive.

Two Pieces

On a day-to-day basis, a housewife in the 1950s would probably have relied on a knee-length skirt and a shirt. The shirt probably would have been button down with sleeves, and it would have been tucked into the skirt. It may or may not have been accompanied by a jacket or cardigan. The skirt would probably be A-line with a slight flare around the knees. The housewife would probably have worn a slip or perhaps crinoline underneath.

Pencil Skirt

Pencil skirts were common in the 1950s. As they don't allow for much movement, they weren't always practical for a housewife, who would have been bustling around the household cleaning and cooking, but they were favored for evening parties and going out. At that time, pencil skirts usually came a bit below the knee.

Wrap Dress

Most associate the wrap dress with designer Diane Von Furstenberg and the 1970s, but a similar style was available for housewives in the 1950s. These dresses were versatile and easy to wear, making them ideal for a housewife who needed to easily move as she cleaned the house and took care of her children daily.

Evening Dresses

Even the most committed housewife sometimes would go for a night out on the town with her husband. Evening dresses were a bit more risque than in years past, featuring sleeveless gowns. While housewives would stick with practical fabric like cotton during the daytime, evening dresses were made with a variety of materials, including velvet, wool and tulle.

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