Runway to Real Way: Iconic 50’s Style

January 30, 2012 • Magazine, Runway To Real Way

Between this winter’s mild climate and the fast approaching Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, we’ve got spring fashion on the brain! We’re excited for a lot of the trends we see on the spring runways, but the one we’re most tickled to try is the updated look of classic 50’s fashions. Equal parts demure and sexy, these tailored cuts and fresh colors show that even after all this time, you’re still once, twice, three times a lady.

Fashion in the 50’s was the last testament to ladylike – and sometimes old fashioned – silhouettes before the swinging 60’s. But it also hosted a sea of vibrant prints, splashed across hoop skirts and and cap-sleeved tops. Today’s interpretation of one of the decade’s most popular prints, the polka dot, is a little more whimsical but no less fun. Prabal Gurung’s Resort 2012 collection featured yin and yang-like discs against contrasting backgrounds. The result is an eye popping effect that’s reminiscent of Lucille ball’s signature look. For an even frillier take on the I Love Lucy look, Alberta Ferretti’s silk-chiffon confection adds a pop of color with it’s bold purple piping. it’s covered up enough for work but but is clearly built for play as well. No matter which style you prefer, in a print like that you’ll always be the star. Just like Lucy was.

Another iconic female of the 50’s was the prodigal housewife, June Cleaver of Leave It To Beaver. Her knee-length skirts and strands of pearls were the cornerstone of traditional fashions of the time. And even though we may have moved on quite a bit from those gender roles, we can still appreciate the delicate femininity of the shapes. Acne’s Spring 2012 runway was a delight of candy-colored frocks, many of which bore sleeves, pockets and that perfect tea-length hem that would have made June proud. Cleaner lines, lower waists and a slouchier silhouette characterize many of the modern versions of the June Cleaver dress. But some, like Luisa Beccaria‘s wool-blend faille dress, have that same deliciously stiff, retro quality that we all search for when shopping in our favorite thrift stores. This iridescent blue number is a perfect fit for playing dress up and stepping out on the town. White gloves not needed.

With all these strong but mostly traditional leading ladies of the decade, of course we have to pay tribute to the bombshells as well. One in particular revolutionized fashion by putting her legendary hourglass figure on display, unapologetically. Of course we’re talking about Marilyn Monroe and how she revolutionized halter tops, cute little cardigans and naturally, the pencil skirt. From Some Like It Hot to Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Monroe poured herself into the curve-hugging skirts that made men fall in love with her and women want to be her. To this day, the definitively womanly silhouette of the skirt is often used for purposes both naughty and nice. Marc Jacobs went low-key vamp with his Fall 2011 runway, pairing a skintight, patent leather skirt with a wool jacket and patterned tights. For those of us out there that may want to breathe, the queen of feminine wiles, Donna Karan, makes a  stretch pencil skirt of nylon and cotton for what we’re sure is an ultra-flattering (and surprisingly comfortable) fit. So you can knock ’em dead without dying yourself.

As the 50’s decade came to a close, fashion was already starting to show signs of how groovy it would become. One of the most notable game changers in women’s wardrobes was the sudden appearance of pants. Culottes, pedal pushers or cigarette pants – whatever you called them, they provided a sense of much need liberation from all the girdles and petticoats. By 1970, Mary Tyler Moore had her own show and was appearing on T.V., in color no less, wearing pants and neck scarves for all the world to see. Yet even in the earlier days, this cute little pair of pants was often paired with flats and a set of tortoise-shell glasses for a day at the shore. The cropped pant has luckily stood the test of time and is still a staple in all of our spring wardrobes. But today’s designers, like Rachel Roy, add a clean sense of tailoring to the pant, to make it more versatile. Today they can even be worn to work! And the bold and punchy hue of the season’s hottest color, tangerine orange, definitely lends the pant more of a 2012 vibe. M Missoni takes the trend a step further with the fun little surprise of a bright pink waistband.And what do you know, Mary Tyler Moore was right: we’re gonna make it after all. Toss on any of these 50’s-inspired fashions and celebrate the women we’ve all become!

1. Polka Dot Dress
Runway: Prabal Gurung Resort 2012 RTW
Real Way: Alberta Ferretti Polka-dot Silk-Chiffon Dress, $1595

2. Knee Length Dress with Sleeves
Runway: Acne Spring 2012 RTW
Real Way: Luisa Beccaria Wool-blend Faille Dress, Now $575

3. Black Pencil Skirt
Runway: Marc Jacobs Fall 2011 RTW
Real Way: Donna Karan Black Stretch Pencil Skirt, $1005

4. Bright-Colored Cigarette Pants
Runway: Rachel Roy Spring 2012 RTW
Real Way: M Missoni Colorblock Pants, $425

–Alia Rajput

Runway Photos: NY Mag

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