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Sep 12, 2014

Inspiration Post: Harper's Bazaar, June 1955



I may be on a temporary sewing hiatus, but I'm certainly not on an inspiration hiatus.

I picked up this June 1955 issue of Harper's Bazaar at the flea market last weekend, where it was selling for just a few dollars more than a current issue would.  Despite being nearly 60 years old, this issue is MUCH more inspiring.

While it's easy to romanticize the past and rail against how people dress today, I try to focus on the positive: thank goodness women aren't expected to wear girdles anymore!



I mean, how else could you fit into something like the Lilli Ann suit below?



To say that Fifties styles accentuated tiny waists would be an understatement.  (How more rectangular women coped I have no idea; I guess that's what padding was for.)

I don't think many women exhaled back then.











Along with some amazing fashion, this issue also boasts ads for some stunning automobiles!









I like the polished look of Fifties makeup most of all.  Plus the fact that none of the models look sullen, porny, or drug-addicted.  The ideal was to look sophisticated.  Like a grown-up, not a teenager.













You can see more photos from the June 1955 issue of Harper's Bazaar here.

Anything here you'd like to see come back?

Have a great day, everybody!

31 comments:

  1. I once saw an interview with an ex-Dior model who said the models were chosen by a certain waist size or they weren't even considered. So a lot of models weren't 'Dior' enough. It was all about fantasy, most women didn't look like that.

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    1. It's easier to wear that kind of waist if you're long waisted. If you're short waisted like me, that kind of cinching can be brutal as it catches the last rib, making it difficult to breathe.

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    2. Here is a photo of Louise Dahl-Wolfe photographing a model in the New Look in the late forties - she and the model are both wearing the very latest thing, but the model is a model (forties variety, not quite as tall, slim and polished as later) and Dahl-Wolfe is quite short and although obviously a strong and compact woman, rather thick-waisted compared to the model. I assume that she wore the New Look through sheer force of will, regardless of any discomfort. But it sure doesn't look comfortable.

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  2. I like the bathing suits and also the outfit on the model climbing up the ladder. She looks to me like she could wear that outfit today. Maybe because she is not wearing a hat and her hair style fits in with the look of today.

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  3. Love love love the pink and red coverup.

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  4. Fashion images were no more indicative of reality in the '50's than they are now.

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  5. I like that not only are the garments really sophisticated, they're very wearable (or at least wearable by the models wearing them). None of the clothes are wearing the models. And the photos are well-done.

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  6. As stated above, fashion does represent an ideal hardly ever attained but it was such a refined ideal that I like. Things have gotten way too casual. I met with a bank employee today who gives financial advice. I was better dressed than her. She was wearing a t-shirt showing cleavage and black jeans and very casual shoes. She spoke way more knowledgeably than she dressed, thank goodness. I also like happy models.

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    1. You are so right. I am a non-traditional (just go ahead and insert "older") student. I am majoring in Diagnostic Medical Sonography and will be doing ultrasounds when I finish. I am constantly surprised by the amount of kids (insert the 18-25 age bracket) that come to school in their pajamas with bed head! No one in the real world is going to take you seriously in Scooby doo boxer shorts!!! Every day I go to school I am dressed; which for me is a skirt with either a plain "dressy" t shirt or blouse, heels, clean hair that has been blow-dried, and makeup a la 1940s-ish. Occasionally I have worn dark jeans (without holes) with my Dexter t shirt, but it had a blazer and dress shoes attached. Every student knows who I am and I haven't even tried to stand out. I have accidentally run into people who are in positions of authority and on boards that will influence my clinical site placement and other parts of my school and work career. I have had no reservations about introducing myself and speaking with them. I never leave a situation thinking "I wish I had worn real pants today."
      Don't even get me started on the subject of tattoos. My husband has several but you can't see them just by looking at him. One young man in class has one up the side of his neck. Now, yes it is your body, and yes our culture is growing more accepting of these things. However, if you are going into the medical field, as we all are in my class, there is a high probability that you will be working with older people. That's just the hard knocks of life. Your body will have more problems at 80 than 30. I have met very few 80 year olds who would trust someone with a neck tattoo. Or, as one young lady has, a tattoo of Tinkerbelle with the word "SLUT" on the inside of her wrist. I hang my head for these poor kids.
      Just for sunshine and giggles, I am about to be 30 in a few months so please don't think someone's granny is blasting tattoos and kids these days. I just don't understand how some people fail to realize that there are repercussions to their actions. If you have a weed leaf tattooed on the side of your neck and you find that you are having a hard time being hired as an x-ray technician in a hospital I can’t help but giggle a bit. Now, if you want to run a smoke shop it might be a selling point on your resume.
      I miss when women were women. Really women. Skirts and dresses are feminine in a way that low rise skinny jeans will never be. My grandmother told me once that women these days try so hard to be the equal of men that they never stop long enough to realize that they are being demoted in the process. That if you will let them, men will gladly place you on a pedestal and see you are something to be cherished. I can’t tell you how many doors get opened for me when I am in a skirt compared to other clothes. I have had men give up their seat in a lecture so that I don’t have to stand. I had a man give me his table at a coffee shop the other day when I went to kill some times between classes. Not only did he offer me his table but he held a chair for me. I have also had, on more than one occasion; men apologize for cursing where I could hear. Or the one time that a gentleman apologized for his friend’s language! I’m sorry I just hit rant level there. It just really gets to me sometimes.

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    2. I'll confess to being old. Not old enough to have worn any of these clothes, but old.
      What you've said about the way young women dress applies also to young men.
      I look at some of the young men and wonder. Their fathers, and grandfathers, were so much better looking. I think it's the stubble, bad haircuts, general sloppiness, rumpled clothing and dirty shoes. I don't think it's so much the fashion that makes the difference. I think it's the 'can't be bothered' attitude.

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    3. I take exception to anyone who replies to a 'thank you' with "No worries", as if they can't be bothered to care. This includes my spouse; my children know better.

      Oh, you kids get off my lawn....

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  7. "Anything here you'd like to see come back?"

    You.

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  8. I have a dear friend who is a dedicated Lilli Ann collector, and I can attest that not all their silhouettes are so extreme; many of their suits and especially their coats are extremely wearable even today, and they are almost insanely well made - a kind of tailoring that you couldn't find in the highest-end stuff today, with buttons and detailing to die for.

    She has one coat-dress (in cream with chocolate-brown details) that makes one mourn every moment that's passed since the Eisenhower administration...

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  9. I miss the models looking like grownups too. If I earn the jack to buy the clothes, I must be an adult, and I want to see an adult modeling things I might purchase. I miss happy models; I can't stand these pouty slouchy GRRRRL/brat models. I also miss the structure and quality of clothes represented. With clothes like this, it was easier to look polished, and it is such hard work and requires too much knowledge to put together a polished look, esp. for a middle aged woman.

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  10. Don’t get me started.

    While I don’t want to go back to a time when women were barely more than possessions, I do think the clothing pendulum has swung way too far towards the casual, anything-goes end of the spectrum. I was among the first to embrace “business casual,” but things have gone too far.

    Flip flops, PJ’s, necklines down to there, pants that don’t start till there – were never acceptable in public.

    Clothes do matter. At a doctor’s office, the girl at the desk was wearing a t-shirt and sloppy jeans. It made a very bad impression on me. Is the doctor this lax in treating patients as well?

    I do receive more courtesy when I am dressed well.

    I miss tailored, structured clothing that is well made. I miss sophisticated looking models.

    I love the DaPinna dress and the dress on the girl with the ladder.

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  11. I love that it was a summer issue! I'm always inspired by casual beach/resort wear. That Jantzen ad is a dream!

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  12. Hats! I live in Hawaii and my first comment when I come out of work at the end of the day is " ooh, it's bright!" Something other than beach hats and baseball caps.

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  13. I am still in a swoon over the Lili Ann suit. I wish you could buy things like that now, so maybe it is a good thing that we can sew. ;)

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  14. Thanks for taking the time to share these pictures, really wonderful to see!

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  15. I want to make a men's version of the tweedy, belted suit jacket with the big patch pockets. But I want YOU to make it first and figue out all the issues. Thanks in advance.
    :-))))))

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  16. I LOVE the Lecce Romma picture. The way they designed the top to go with the print of the fabric and the skirt is very clever. On the subject of girddles. Ha, I once filled up a cute little old lady's girddle with water. while rinsing her perm. It was in the winter and we were at the sink and I was rinsing her perm prior to applying the neutralizer. As I was rinsing she said, Oh that water is so nice and warm as she cozied into the shampoo bowl for the 5 minute rinse time. The shop was cold since it was early in the day and the shop hadn't warmed up yet. So as I rinsed as she purred delighted in how the water was making her feel so warm so I gave her a couple more minutes of rinse time. Afterwards I wrapped her head in a towel and blotted her well and she then stood up and had this surprised look on her face. I asked, what is it. She then took her hands and patted her bottom which made this slurshing sound as she patted her bum. I was like, Oh my what in the world is that. She said, MY GIRDLE HAS FILLED UP WITH WATER! I was like, OH MY GOODNESS THATS PROBABLY WHY YOU WERE SO WARM, THE WATER WAS RUNNING DOWN YOUR BACK!!!! OH MY GOSH, I"M SOOOOOO SORRRY! Not knowing what would come next I felt the buzz of fear in my tummy and a slight nautiousness coming over me. She, then laughed and cackled and apon seeing her finding the humour in it my fear turned to laughter and we all cracked up uncontrollably. She hurried off to the bathroom and took care of business. I got her a smock and threw her clothes in the dryer and we finished the perm. Afterwards, she came to me gave me a generous tip with the biggest smile and told me she couldn't remember the last time she had so much fun at the hairdressers. What a gal to have had that happen with. I'll always remember her and everyone since then gets a towel under their neck when rinsing a perm. The funny thing about all this when it was over I asked why a tiny thing like her was wearing a girdle anyway. And she said well her mom always wore one and it was just the thing woman do like their moms before them. Your picture of that girdle contraption reminded me of this story, Whew

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  17. I can tell you what women did in the 50's to keep a waist. They were the prime years of my mom's life, and she was very honest on her tips for waist control. 1. wear her old latex girdle at least once a week. It was a piece of rubber... really. She powdered it, and put it on while at home. It made her sweat buckets. Then she often went about her day in a tight, wide belt. She never heard of waist training, but she did it just the same. She had fitted waist dresses with big skirts, and some more slender styles from the late 40's. All needed a tiny waist. She was very tall for the times, 5'6", and was determined to maintain her tall slender look. I do remember that the 60's suddenly had suits and clothes with no waistline, and the tight belts forever stopped, and her waistline soon thickened up.

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  18. I love the swimsuit cover photo and the bubble-skirt dress. The dress looks so well made.. the perfect pouf... overall very eye appealing to me. I wouldn't wear I it (Lord help the world if I did), but it's so beautiful to look at.

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  19. These models are so elegant and sophisticated; I'd love to see happy, successful-looking models come back.

    I also would like to have hood ornaments back. I loved looking at all of the different ones when I was a kid, I'd love to have them back.

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  20. If you read Coco Chanel's biography, she did not approve of the post war cinched waist fashions for women, too uncomfortable and constricting. She even
    came out of retirement and designed a line of clothes for women that were easy to wear and stylish.

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  21. I'm no expert, but I think that those long line girdles were none too healthy for women - can they cause varicose veins?

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  22. OH, that suit (third pic from bottom, with the big flap pockets)!!! I WANT IT. I mean, I love the big dresses and all, but there's something special about tailoring, don;t you think?
    X

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  23. Can I just say: I love "porny" as an adjective. Good stuff.

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  24. I love that the new makeup doesn't turn orange, nor streak :)

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  25. Such lovely pictures...
    And you remind me: I was considering making a waspie to wear under 1950's style dresses ;)
    Although I have to agree that not all women looked like the glamorous models in Harper's Bazaar. I've collected quite a few Dutch ladies' magazines from that era and in those, you see small-waisted models in the pictures which go with the fashion articles and ads, and much more 'normal' everywhere else. Although I don't think anyone had muffin top back than, and pear and hourglass shapes were much more common than rulers or apples.

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