1950s Leisure

Elvis Wig With Big Sideburns Blackview

Elvis Wig With Big Sideburns Black

Teddy Boy Red Jacketview

Teddy Boy Red Jacket



In the 1950s, dancing was a major entertainment activity, especially with the new rock n roll music. In America, dance events were often called hops and there was a variation the Sock Hop- where the dance was held in school gyms and the participants had to dance without shoes to avoid damaging the floor. For females, typical sock hop wear was a blouse with full skirt (often supported by petticoats), sometimes with applique designs (such as poodle skirts). Before rock n roll became mainstream, different dance styles the Jitterbug, the Lindy-hop, the Shake etc. had generated variations on this basic dance-wear.

Whilst male hairstyles remained relatively conventional, although imitations of the Marlon Brando, James Dean or Elvis Presley look were also seen, female styles varied from the preppy ponytail through the classic flick-out to the development of the beehive.

In Britain Teddy Boys and Girls were the focus of attention, not always for the right reasons. The boys outfits long drape jackets with velvet facings and drainpipe narrow trousers- derived from Edwardian fashion (hence the name), which the girls adopted a loose and full-skirt ensemble similar to their American counterparts, but often in more colourful designs. The downside was the vicious and violent gang culture which arose.

Beatnik Whilst rock n roll was making all the headlines, other music styles such as jazz were also finding favour in the late 1950s. Aficionados favoured dark clothing turtle-necks, slacks, dark glasses, berets, with long cigarette holders also adding to the cool look. Many female beatniks favoured the short gamine hairstyle championed by stars such as Seberg and Hepburn.

Bowling/Bowling Ball/Skittle – Ten-pin bowling was a popular sport of the Fifties and bowling wear was just comfortable leisure wear usually slacks for the females. As a variation within this concept, costumes for bowling balls and skittle pins can be found on the market.

Cheerleaders – Cheerleaders are still very much with us and therefore require no real introduction or explanation.

Grease orientated -The official Grease costumes from the film offer a range of looks: T-Bird jackets, Pink Lady outfits (remember, Sandy was not a Pink Lady); Sandy (after the makeover), and Frenchy in Beauty School Drop-out mode.

Drive-In /Malt Shop Waitress – Pre-empting the current skimpy trend by many years, waitresses in food outlets tended to wear short-skirted uniforms with military-looking hats. Some even wore roller-skates!

Mickey/Minnie Mouse in Disneyland – Although Mickey and Minnie had been around for many years, 1955 saw the opening of Disneyland in California.Walt Disney used the new television media to promote his characters and films.

Prom King/Queen – Coloured tuxedos and pretty prom gowns (with corsage) are the look here.

1950s Costume Ideas


Teddy Boy Blue Jacket - Largeview

Teddy Boy Blue Jacket - Large

Teddy Boy Socks - Assorted Coloursview

Teddy Boy Socks - Assorted Colours


The 1950s is often seen as a really great theme for a costume party or other event. Here are a few ideas for 1950s-orientated costumes, with a little background information. Just look at the left navigation as we break this rock and roll decade down into the main areas of Fashion, Music, Television and Films as this decade is a little diverse!.

The selection is not comprehensive or over detailed, but it may help give you some guidelines on how to work with the 1950s fancy dress theme.

In the UK, the 1950s may have started as a decade of austerity and rationing thanks to the aftermath of the Second World War, but it did not end up that way. The ten years from 1950 onwards, saw many social and cultural changes, to lead Prime Minister Harold Macmillan in 1959 to say that you’ve never had it so good! The American influence was everywhere, from music styles based on Rock n Roll and Jazz, to trends in radio and television.

Equally strong, however were the UK home-grown genres such as Skiffle and influences from the continent. The late 1950s saw the growth of social rebellion amongst the youth population, fuelled by young adults who now had their own disposable income and no wish to follow in their parents footsteps, in terms of dress and social activities.