Girls' Dresses from the 50s

Girls wore dresses with full skirts and petticoats in the 1950s.
Girls wore dresses with full skirts and petticoats in the 1950s. (Image: Nick Koudis/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Little girls, teens and women wore dresses almost all the time in the 1950s, according to Fifties Girls wore dresses to school, church, parties and other activities. Jeans and pants were usually only worn at home or for playtime. Accessories were an important element of dresses in the 50s. No dress was complete without a hat, gloves, purse and petticoat.

Full Circle Skirts

Dresses with full circle skirts were the trend for girls of all ages in the 1950s. To achieve the full-skirted look, girls wore stiff petticoats or crinolines underneath. Dress length was mid-knee or below the knee. Details such as wide Peter Pan collars, waist-cinching belts, buttons and appliqués were important in dresses from the 50s. Printed fabrics such as polka dots, gingham checks, and plaids as well as solid colors were popular.


Every girl had at least one jumper-style dress. This dress was versatile and worn over a variety of tops such as a blouse, turtleneck or jersey. Jumpers were suitable for all ages and often worn by mothers and daughters.


Sailor dresses were fashionable during this time period. Designed in red, white and blue, these dresses had big white collars and bows. With a matching hat, the look was unmistakably nautical. Even older girls sometimes incorporated the trend into their wardrobes by wearing a white blouse with a sailor collar.

Party Dresses

Mothers wanted their daughters to look as glamorous as they did on dressy occasions. Girls wore fancy party dresses with full skirts, fitted at the waist. The dresses were sleeveless or had short puffed sleeves. Fabrics for a party dress were often satin, lace, organza or chiffon.


A sundress with a matching cropped jacket called a bolero was a trendy summer dress for girls and teens. Rickrack trim or colorful buttons accented the jacket. Floral or fruit print fabrics were in style for the summer.


Little girls wore socks and saddle shoes or Mary Janes. Older girls and teens wore saddle shoes, flats or low-heeled shoes with their dresses. Hats, matching purses and short white gloves were essential attire for church and dressy occasions. Headbands and chiffon scarves were common hair accessories. Jewelry was also an important fashion accessory, and girls wore charm bracelets, animal pins, or heart lockets. Lightweight cardigan sweaters in pastel colors were a wardrobe necessity.

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