1950s suits for a wedding

1950s suits for a wedding DEFAULT

The History Of 1950s Wedding Dresses

The 1950s was the beginning of the economic expansion, which is coined as the Golden Age of Capitalism, or the postwar economic boom. It was a period of strong economic growth, following the World War II. The entire world in the 1950s were left to deal with the war’s aftermath, which is the destruction from the bombings and rebuilding of architecture. In Great Britain, Winston Churchill was re-elected, and this resulted to the abolition of food rationing, which eventually lifted clothing and fabric rationing. The end of the war brought life once again to Haute Couture, with Christian Dior and Cristobal Balenciaga leading the revolution from the restricted austere style. The 1950s also brought changes in terms of family life, as women became housekeepers once again, which later influenced the glamorous housewife.

vintage-inspired wedding dresses

Fashion historians regard the first few years after the war as a period of transition, where fashion sat groping after lines before settling into eight to ten years lifespan of trends. The waistline trend also sent fashion historians with head scratching, as the trend appeared and disappeared throughout the period. Due to this, the phrase “the wandering waistline” was coined during the celebration of the Paris spring collections.

Fashion in the 50s remained fluid, and women donned suits with belts over straight skirts. It was also an homage to the 1920s, with frills, lace, and floral dominating most runways. The most significant aspect of this era was that people were beginning to experiment and become free in their fashion choices.

This period also brought changes in weddings, particularly the 1950s wedding dresses. Wedding dress designers adopted to the changes made in the fashion world, which was all about glamour and somehow subverting the expectations. If you’re looking for vintage-inspired wedding dresses for your dream wedding, read on for a glimpse of what it was like to be a bride in the 50’s.

The Types Of 50s Wedding Dress

Dresses in the 50s

The History of 1950s Wedding Dresses

As the period of the 1940’s ended, women sought high fashion designers and Hollywood icons for fashion inspiration. The 1950s style wedding dress was not any different, as brides flocked bridal salons in department stores. Here, they ogled at the latest runway wedding gowns, flowers, veils, and accessories dedicated to weddings. Weddings were done for an entire day, and these events set the tone of weddings as being high fashion affairs.

The brides were encouraged to be like their Hollywood icons, and dress themselves in the most expensive gowns they could afford. With the boom of capitalism and assembly line, wedding dresses were finally offered “off the rack”, which was more affordable for brides. Cheaper synthetic materials were used, but they looked just as expensive. Brides could now afford a dream wedding, topped with her dream wedding gown, made complete with just as glamorous accessories. Beyond anything else, the 1950s was a decade identified with elegance, etiquette, and decorum. Classic weddings featured white roses, cut glass, silver on damask cloths, and Wedgewood china – all of these had to match the bride and her wedding gown.

The Early 1950s Wedding Gowns

The Early 1950s Wedding Gowns

For most of the 1950s, the sweetheart neckline, full skirt, and small waist was the classic silhouette for the retro 50s wedding dress. Fabrics used embraced a structure which easily molded to the shape of the torso, as well as shaped the hips down until the floor. Satins were also used, and the more popular ones were ribbed silk and Duchesse satins, both of which were shimmery and smooth. Lace was also used, but is only incorporated either at the top or the full dress, where the fabric is infused with silver of gold thread. Handmade lace was preferred, as it was extremely soft and comfortable to touch, but much too expensive. Brides opted for new cotton or polyester made ones, which were crisp but affordable. Lace was used extensively, from gloves, to veils and gowns.

Most weddings are done in churches during this period, which meant that full modesty had to be exercised. This was the peak of the 1950s long sleeve dress, and the sleeves were required to be long with some fullness. Necklines had the higher cuts of V, sweetheart, and scalloped shapes. Skirts hung from the waistline, as dresses from the 1950 were shaped in an A-line, which was supported by a long petticoat beneath.

The Mid 1950s Wedding Dresses

The Mid 1950s Wedding Dresses

The dawn of the mid 50s brought about practical changes in the world of wedding gowns. While modesty remained to be required in churches, brides sought for the 1950 wedding dress screaming modern and fashion. Designers solved this problem by incorporating removable layers – bridal gowns were made strapless but came with matching bolero jackets. These had three-quarter length sleeves, which were to be worn at the ceremony. Bolero jackets could be made out of satin or silk, but most often brides used white lace, which were tightly fitted and can easily pass off as second skin. Another option used was to incorporate detachable sleeves, which can come off after the reception. It was not acceptable to wear sleeveless gowns to the ceremony, and this only changed in the 60s. Short sleeve jackets were also considered controversial, but women chose to wear these anyway.

The Late 1950s Wedding Gowns

The Late 1950s Wedding Gowns

The road to the late 1950s led to gowns shaping up into ballgowns, and designers used chiffon and tulle to make them lighter and more wearable. Hemlines rose up, which settled to the ankles and mid shin, then exposing footwear for the first time since the 1920s. This was popularized further Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face (1957), where she wore a ballerina style wedding gown. She danced and twirled in the movie, which showed off how light and magical the calf length dress can be. The bodice was also simplified, too, and short sleeves were finally preferred. Plain, round, and wide necklines without collars were utilized, as they were believed to exude an aura of doll-like innocence.

The Modest 50s Weddings


Even with the long economic boom, not all brides wanted luxurious weddings, and many others could not afford a couture wedding gown. These brides often opted for a small church ceremony, with receptions celebrated at home. Most of the time, best afternoon dresses or a tailored suit are worn. Brides also often chose to make their own dresses, with the help of experienced family members to sew a gown from a pattern and specially ordered fabric. Brides also chose to honor family tradition by wearing old heirloom wedding dresses, which were refashioned to fit into the current trends. Younger brides opted to re-wear prom dresses, or borrow their mother’s formal gowns – these were quite similar to the styles of wedding dresses. Brides also chose colors of pink, yellow, or ivory lace for their 50s bridal dresses, as they could be re-worn to fancy parties and dinners. All of these were affordable and practical choices for brides who had their minds set out for the future, and not just their weddings. For this reason, their wedding gowns became the iconic 1950s glamour dress.

Vintage-Inspired Wedding Accessories

As opposed to the previous decade, hats were no longer dominant in the fifties. Women wore scarves in their hair often, and butterfly glasses were worn for extra touches of glamour.  Large belts adorned their waists to emphasize the highly-coveted feminine silhouette. Oversized rings and bracelets were a staple, but most jewelry were costume instead of real jewels. There was also a change in footwear, as it moved away from lavish embellishments and utility styling. Velvet and crocodile skin were utilized for shoes instead. Roger Vivier, a famous shoe designer, brought about the popular designs for the ballet pumps and high heels, motivated by his desire to create shoes with more freedom.

  • Wedding veils, hats, and tiaras. The wedding tiara was popular in the 50s, but hats were also common. Despite not being a dominant accessory, brides chose to wear saucer-shaped hats embellished with beadings and flowers, pulled down low for a halo effect. There were also hats that saddled the head, but left enough room for the latest hairstyles. When Queen Elizabeth was crowned in 1953, however, there came a brief revival of jeweled crowns. Some innovative brides, though, like Audrey Hepburn, wore crowns of flowers.  

Veils were old items usually passed down generation to generation. These were usually long and made of lace, which floats down the backs of wedding gowns. This added a classic touch to an otherwise modern style. Jackie Kennedy was an iconic bride who wore her grandmother’s rose-point lace veil, which was attached to a small tiara with designs of orange blossoms. It contrasted well against her ivory silk 1950s off the shoulder dress ballgown. These long veils were often updated with crowns of small flowers or plain pillbox hats. Brides who did not use heirloom veils wore should length tulle veils instead, which emphasized the ballgown skirt. This was often attached to hidden headbands or small combs.

  • Gloves were made to be as elegant as the dress. In the early years of the era, a short sleeve gown was often paired with over the elbow white gloves. Gloves aren’t need for long-sleeved gowns, but they’re often adorned with a pair of wrist length or fingerless gloves made from tulle, lace, or satin.
  • The use of jewelry was minimal. A short and single strand pearl necklace was the choice paired with low neck dresses. A matching pearl bracelet was considered a good addition, especially if it can be in tradition as “something borrowed.” Pearl clip-ons or stud earrings are worn only if they were not covered up by the hair.
  • Flowers often used were Lilies of the Valley, attached with fern tied in a white satin bow. Hollywood icons like Elizabeth Taylor chose to use yellow daffodils and tulips, in order to match her bridesmaid’s yellow chiffon dresses. Jackie Kennedy opted for white and pink orchids paired with gardenia.  Most brides opted for pink flowers, as anything pink was regarded as highly fashionable in weddings.
  • Heels used were mostly cuban or kitten heels, which was made in a rounded toe in white, seen as the classic wedding shoe. Wearing anything else was unnecessary, as fancier or interesting” shoes were believed to rob the bride and her gown of the attention. For this reason, should had to remain simple. However, there is a rule that the shorter the dress, the higher the heels should be. The exposed calves were turned attractive by the high heels, and brides loved using the ultra-thin stiletto heel. Brides burdened with unsightly legs often used nude stockings with nude seams.
1950s wedding dresses

Fashion trends come and go, and the same goes with wedding dresses. Socioeconomic factors come into play with these trends, and for the 50’s it was the booming economy. The 1950s wedding dresses were spectacles to behold, with brides clamoring for luxury and Hollywood-inspired themes. Just like the era, the 50s wedding dress remains to be an icon, with brides today taking cues from the laces and frills that decorated the brides of the 1950s.

Sours: https://fashion-soup.com/the-history-of-1950s-wedding-dresses/

Planning the perfect 1950s’ wedding complete with a Rock n Roll band, retro food, and plenty of dancing? You certainly need a 1950s’ vintage wedding dress to complete the look! Here’s some tips, some history and some advice to help you find the perfect dress.

1950s’ Fashion

In spring 1950, Dior released the “vertical line”. Now commonly known as a shift style dress, this style accentuated height rather than curves. It seemed that the 50s would dress women in styles that hid their figures. However, just six months later, the brand released the “oblique line”, and hips were in once again.

Fashion in the majority of the 1950s mainly revolved around ultra-feminine full tea-length dresses, as well as tight figure-hugging pencil skirts. These styles were both designed to accentuate the waist to really create an impact. This, styled with short or shoulder-length curly hair, created a recognisable look.

1950s’ vintage wedding dress

The tea-length dresses were all about volume, and were usually comprised of layer upon layer of net or a hoop skirt in order to achieve this effect. Petticoats came back in, oftentimes with a decorative hem that was meant to be seen rather than hidden. To add to this powerful and glamorous look, women also teamed their dresses with bright-red lipstick and killer heels.

It’s worth noting, however, that despite the heels and tight waistlines, 1950s’ dresses didn’t tend to show a lot of skin, and were actually extremely modest. It was rare for gowns to feature low neck-lines, and dresses with sleeves were the height of fashion at this time.

1950s’ vintage wedding dress

Historically, the abundance of fabric used for dresses in the 1950s is thought to be a direct reflection of the relaxation of World War Two fabric restrictions that were in place only a few years before. The ’50s also witnessed the growing popularity of lace, which also had been hard to obtain during the war.

Wedding Dresses

Wedding dresses often mimic the fashions of the time, and this is no different in the 1950s. Celebrities from Audrey Hepburn to Grace Kelly got married in this decade, and their gowns are hailed as iconic. If you want to read more about these dresses from the time, you can read our other article.

1950s’ vintage wedding dress

Bolero jackets were all the rage, and therefore plenty of brides wore them to keep warm – or demure – at their weddings. These were often made of lace, and covered dresses that were excessively lacy, too. Other than that, there were limited embellishments to these gowns.

Find Your Own 1950s’ Style Dress

Vintage nostalgia is currently one of the most popular wedding themes around, and therefore there is no shortage of boutiques and designers offering replica 1950s’ gowns. You may even be able to find an original dress if you search hard enough! Take a look around your local charity shops, search online, and even try asking around – you never know, your perfect wedding gown could be lying around in someone’s attic!

1950s’ vintage wedding dress

If you are unable to find the dress of your dreams in a boutique or bridal shop, you can always consider looking for a gown that isn’t in the traditional white or ivory. Brigitte Bardot wore a pink gingham dress when she married Jacques Charrier in 1959, and Ava Gardner wed Frank Sinatra in a blush pink dress. Elizabeth Taylor was the queen of coloured wedding dresses, walking down the aisle in green, yellow and full rainbow.

1950s’ vintage wedding dress

However, if you have your heart set on a white wedding, in a 1950s’ style, look instead for an evening gown, cocktail dress or prom dress. By letting other varieties of dress into your hunt, you are far more likely to find the style you are looking for!


The rockabilly fashion of dresses would really suit a wedding gown. The popular fashion style from the era encapsulates short dresses with layers of petticoats underneath. Imagine a white dress trimmed with red underskirts. This would look good with a halterneck, strapless or with a bateau style neckline. Similarly, this would suit strong colours as well as floral or polka dot patterns. This would certainly suit your alternative wedding.

1950s’ vintage wedding dress

Think of an idealised ball gown and you have the idea of a sweetheart dress. From a small waist to a long, full skirt, this style of dress would have been popular in the early 1950s. A sweetheart neckline with sleeves allowed brides to flatter their features while remaining covered. Similarly, sometimes the area above the neckline would be a sheer fabric for modesty. This style is very elegant and flattering to taller, slimmer figures.


Lace was a popular material for wedding dresses anyway, but the mid-1950s was an era that brought it front and centre. It is possible to have lace embellished on just your bodice or your skirt, but a more dramatic style would be to go for all-out lace.

1950s’ vintage wedding dress

Grace Kelly’s wedding dress to Prince Monaco featured a highly decorative lace bodice with long sleeves – think Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell in the film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

Less well recognised was the dress Kelly wore to her civil ceremony the day before, which was made of pale pink taffeta covered with cream-coloured lace. Her style would be a beautiful one to emulate.


Short dress, calf-length or slightly higher, were popular late in the 1950s. Here is the time to show off your shoes and make the most of accessories. Softer shapes and fabrics make for a softer, more innocent look. Tulle became very popular, and is still easy to find today. Think of Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face for an idea of this style of gown.

1950s’ vintage wedding dress


If you have found a 1950s’ dress you love, but it’s a little on the plain side, you can accessorise. A great way to top off the look is to team it with a white embellished headband or crystallised headpiece. Large bows alongside soft and curly hair will also help to achieve a 1950s’ look wonderfully well.

1950s’ vintage wedding dress

That being said, genuine 1950s’ wedding outfits tended to have limited embellishments. Extra style came from lipstick, often dark red in colour, and bright shoes. Certainly, if you plan on wearing a shorter gown then having statement shoes would be a great touch.

Similarly, having hair bold but without glitz could be the way to go. Hairstyles of the time involved loose curls and also the “Italian haircut” – think Ava Gardner and Dorothy Dandridge.

1950s’ vintage wedding dress

If you want some decoration to your hairdo, consider a simple tiara, or more appropriately a small hat. Definitely remember a veil, and consider asking your mother if she still has hers; 1950s’ brides often wore heirloom bridal veils. You can dress it up with flowers or a floral crown.

If you are wearing a short gown, consider long, elbow length gloves. On the other hand, a long gown suits short, wrist length gloves well. Otherwise, a single simple bracelet should suffice.

Take the 1950s’ style in whichever way you want, from the bold rock ‘n’ roll to the demure ballerina. Top it all off with your wedding theme for a night to remember…

1950s’ vintage wedding dress

Lu Bailey

Brides Style Guide, Vintage Gowns

Sours: https://www.theweddingsecret.co.uk/magazine/style-guide-1950s-vintage/
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Groom & Groomsmen

20 Stylish Grooms & Groomsmen Looks for a 1950s Wedding

If you’re a fan of Grace Kelly, love High Society or just adore all of the grace and glamour of the 1950s and have missed any of the last few weeks Snippets, Whispers & Ribbons then you have some catching up to do! Because we’ve already looked at the most perfect bridal hair accessories, delightful wedding cakes, fabulous bridesmaid dresses and beautiful bouquets for a 1950s inspired wedding, and this week we’re turning our attention to the all important, but all too often neglected (by us bloggers at least!), grooms & groomsmen and offering a few ideas for how to infuse his style with some Cary Grant charisma for your big day…..

20 Stylish Grooms & Groomsmen Looks for a 1950s Wedding

Debonair, dashing and so damned handsome, Cary Grant was the epitome of suave sophistication – topping too many Best Dressed lists to name. And so who could make a more ideal style icon for any groom looking to add a hint of mid-century style to his wedding day attire? He was a man who could carry a suit like no other, knew how to accessorise and had a wonderful take on style ‘Simplicity, to me, has always been the essence of good taste.’ – Cary Grant. So, inspired by Mr Grant, here are some of my very favourite, and in my opinion most dapper, looks for a 1950s inspired groom…..

Double Breasted Jackets

The height of fashion from the mid 30s until the late 1950s, this style of jacket is few and far between nowadays. More formal than their single-breasted counterparts (because generally they are worn done up) this look would suit a more traditional Autumn or Winter celebration…..

Double Breasted Jacket - 20 Stylish Grooms & Groomsmen Looks for a 1950s WeddingVine & Light

Double Breasted Jacket - 20 Stylish Grooms & Groomsmen Looks for a 1950s WeddingMelissa Jill Photography via Wedding Sparrow

Double Breasted Jacket - 20 Stylish Grooms & Groomsmen Looks for a 1950s WeddingGroom’s Attire ~ Billy Reid, Bowtie Preston & Olivia, photography by Trent Bailey Photography via SMP

Double Breasted Jacket - 20 Stylish Grooms & Groomsmen Looks for a 1950s WeddingClean Plate Pictures via SMP

…..although a double breasted waistcoat would give a similar, but more summery effect!

Double Breasted Waistcoat - 20 Stylish Grooms & Groomsmen Looks for a 1950s WeddingBest Photography via The Knot

Fedora Hats

Hats are a great way to add a hint of vintage to a more modern groom’s look, and if it’s the 1950s you’re looking to channel, then it has to be a Fedora! Whilst its peak of popularity was earlier in the century, it remained fashionable until the early part of the mid-century, and never looks anything other than stylish…..

Fedora Hat - 20 Stylish Grooms & Groomsmen Looks for a 1950s WeddingPark Road Photography via SMP

Fedora Hat - 20 Stylish Grooms & Groomsmen Looks for a 1950s WeddingRed White and Green Photography via Ruffled

Fedora Hat - 20 Stylish Grooms & Groomsmen Looks for a 1950s WeddingFlypublic

Fedora Hat - 20 Stylish Grooms & Groomsmen Looks for a 1950s WeddingGroom’s Attire ~ Bindle & Keep, photography by Khaki Bedford Photography via SMP

Fedora Hat - 20 Stylish Grooms & Groomsmen Looks for a 1950s WeddingGroom’s Attire Mr. Baldwin Style, photography by Amy Anaiz Photography via SMP

If your hubby-to-be remains unconvinced, just remind him it was the headwear of choice for Indiana Jones!


Horn-rimmed Glasses

Horn-rimmed or browline glasses aren’t just for hipsters you know! The defining style for eyewear of the 1940s and 1950s they are the perfect modern-vintage accessory!…..

Hornrimmed Glasses - 20 Stylish Grooms & Groomsmen Looks for a 1950s WeddingGroom’s Attire ~ Gian Paolo Mazzotta, photography by A Brit & A Blonde via Grey Likes Weddings

Hornrimmed Glasses - 20 Stylish Grooms & Groomsmen Looks for a 1950s WeddingGrooms Attire ~ J Crew, photography by Jose Villa Photography via SMP

Hornrimmed Glasses - 20 Stylish Grooms & Groomsmen Looks for a 1950s Wedding Groom’s Suit~ Oscar Jacobsen, photography by Therese Winberg Photography via Ruffled

Hornrimmed Glasses - 20 Stylish Grooms & Groomsmen Looks for a 1950s WeddingBonnie Berry Photography via SMP

Hornrimmed Glasses - 20 Stylish Grooms & Groomsmen Looks for a 1950s WeddingLavara O’Hanlon via Chic Vintage Brides


The Classic Tuxedo

Or for a formal wedding you really can’t go wrong with a classic tux! And don’t be afraid to play with colour (think blue for a Spring or Summer wedding, a rich burgundy red for Autumn and how about white for Winter?) because by the 1950s colour, texture and pattern were all the rage…..

Classic Tux - 20 Stylish Grooms & Groomsmen Looks for a 1950s WeddingThe Great Romance via Elizabeth Anne Designs

Classic Tux - 20 Stylish Grooms & Groomsmen Looks for a 1950s WeddingGroom’s Attire ~ Michael Andrews Bespoke, photography by Heather Waraksa via SMP

Classic Tux - 20 Stylish Grooms & Groomsmen Looks for a 1950s WeddingMichelle Lange Photography

Classic Tux - 20 Stylish Grooms & Groomsmen Looks for a 1950s WeddingGroom’s Attire ~ Groom Hire, photogrpahy by Victoria Phipps via SMP

Classic Tux - 20 Stylish Grooms & Groomsmen Looks for a 1950s WeddingJose Villa Photography via 100 Layer Cake

Not sold on any of these looks? Then take a look here for 10 ways to style your groom vintage, or for a little seasonal inspiration I have 5 looks for Spring, Summer, Autumn or Winter that you might love!

Oh and if you would like to read Mr Grant’s own advice on style, then take a look at this fascinating article on GQ, it is a truly wonderful read!

Have a fab weekend!



Tagged: 1950s, Groom, Groomsmen

Sours: https://chicvintagebrides.com/grooms-groomsmen-1950s-wedding/
Old Hollywood Wedding Dresses 1920-1960

1950s Tuxedos and Men’s Wedding Suits

1950s Fred Astaire and Donald O'Connor sporting formal and semi formal tuxedos

Fred Astaire and Donald O’Connor sporting formal and semi formal tuxedos

1950s men’s tuxedos, eveningwear, and formalwear entered a new age of color, texture, and casual style. That is not to say that formality was gone, it certainly was not, but that relaxed fashion was moving from day to night, adding color, cut, and lightness to traditional evening attire.  For the man in the 1950s, there were fewer rules governing how to dress for certain formal occasions. Weddings and political gatherings called for the most formal morning suits or black tie dress. Dinner parties, theater, dancing, and general evening attire turned to semi-formal black, white, or colored dinner jackets in the new relaxed fit.

Whether dressing for your own wedding or going to a 1950s themed formal party, the following should help you understand the history of 1950s men’s formalwear and guide you in choosing an appropriate evening or wedding outfit. Let’s begin with the most informal of the evening looks.

Dancing on a cruise ship, 1950s

Dancing on a cruise ship, 1950

1950s Semi-Formal Evening Jackets

The 1940s formal look for men went through a reduction in both layers and tailored fit as a result of Wartime austerity. The new look had a natural shoulder, long jacket, loose one or two button closure, and lighter materials. This fit continued into the 1950s with an even wider shoulder, more straight fitting jacket, and wide high waist trousers. Replacing a matching vest with a cummerbund increased the comfort level of this semi-formal look. The result was an effortless, easy-going style.

Men wore a tuxedo to nearly every after six occasion including prom and some weddings. Severs, wait staff, musicians, TV hosts, and movie stars all donned semi-formal attire too. It was the signature look of the well-dressed 50s.

In 1952, Esquire noted men should be wearing single or double-breasted evening jackets in black or midnight blue. This was the standard look for most of the 50s:

  • Jacket: Single or double breasted dinner jacket in black or midnight blue
  • Waistcoat: Single or double breasted in black or midnight blue with a V front. Cummerbund of blue or black for dinner was OK.
  • Trousers: Tuxedo pants in black or blue to match.
  • Shirt: White pique with single cuffs or pleated shirt with double cuffs. Either wingtip or straight collars. Shirt cuffs and cufflinks in pearl, gold, black, or colored stone.
  • Necktie: Bow tie. Mightnight blue or black in either wide butterfly or narrow shape.
  • Shoes: Patent leather formal shoes or lace up Oxfords.
  • Hat: Homburg hat in blue or black (hats were optional).
  • Gloves: Grey leather or cotton gloves.
  • Accessories: White or black suspenders. White silk scarf draped around the neck (taken off with the topcoat), a white handkerchief (kept in the pants pocket), and a white or red carnation boutonniere pinned to the jacket lapel.

1950s Summer White Jackets

The white evening jacket, although not a new trend, was a welcome summer semi-formal option in men’s evening wear. White jackets were made of lighter weight worsted wools, making them much more comfortable than the heavier tuxedo and dinner jackets.  For cruising and resort wear, silk shantung jackets were an even lighter choice. They also introduced the nubby texture to eveningwear, a common occurrence among all men’s 1950s fashion.

1950s Sidney Poiter with a white dinner jacket and black bow tie
1950s Sidney Poiter with a white dinner jacket and black bow tie
1958 prom, wearing a white jacket and black bow tie
1958 prom goers
1950s men's prom in black and white formal wear
1950s prom in black and white formal wear

White jackets with shawl collars hung loosely on the body. Paired with dark tuxedo trousers and a black bow tie, the black and white look was very modern and fresh. Even past summer, many hotels kept wait staff in white jackets. Prom-goers in the mid ’50s and beyond are almost always pictured in white jackets. Black was too old and stuffy for the new generation.

  • Jackets: White shawl collar dinner jacket.
  • Waistcoat: Black cummerbund.
  • Trousers: Black or midnight blue with braid/stripe on sides.
  • Shirt: White straight collar dress shirt in either smooth front or pleated front.
  • Necktie: Blue, black, maroon, striped, or plaid bow ties in either full or skinny shape.
  • Shoes: Black patent leather formal shoes or lace-up Oxfords. Black and white wingtips are also stylish.
  • Hat: Straw hat with coordinating band.
  • Gloves: Grey leather or cotton gloves.
  • Accessories: White suspenders. White silk scarf draped around the neck (taken off with the topcoat), white handkerchief (kept in the pants pocket), and a white or red carnation boutonniere pinned to the jacket lapel. Optional- pocket watch or keychain. Lighter (for smokers).

While shawl collar white jackets remained standard for the duration of the ’50s and ’60s, a new trend in the mid 50s for “parfait” colored jackets and accessories made an appearance. These colorful jackets reflected back onto the 1930s Art Deco age where formality was briefly fun. For example, a black dinner jacket was worn with a raspberry-red bowtie, cummerbund, and cufflinks or a strawberry red jacket with grey bowtie, cummerbund, and jewelry. Ivory with gold and deep blue with light blue were some other options.  There was also a trend for red and tartan plaid jackets with or without matching cummerbunds. Seersucker also experienced a revival in summer attire, especially for daytime events.

1953 men's colored formalwear tuxedos

1953 colored formal wear. White tie tailcoat, Burgandy shawl collar dinner suit, and peak lapel double breasted dinner jacket. Pleated dress shirt and cummerbund.

1958 After Six advertise "Red, white and blue" formal wear for men

1958 After Six advertise “Red, white and blue” formal wear with coordinating cummerbunds and bow ties.

In 1959, fashion turned again away from color and back into traditional formality with a slimmer silhouette. Mohair dinner jackets with peak lapels,  satin piping, and braids in black or grey were worn with matching bow ties and cummerbunds in jacquard, checkerboard and honeycomb designs. Lapel facings, pocket flaps and trousers stripes were also increasingly trimmed with embroidered or jacquard silk. Most lapels were sill shawl collars with velvet or satin facings. This was to be the classic style going into the 1960s.

Late 50s men's plaid jackets, vests and cumberbunds. The new trend in formal wear

Late 50s plaid jackets, vests and cummerbunds

1958 After Six ad- notice the checkerboard tie and cumberbund

1958 After Six ad- notice the checkerboard tie and cummerbund

Men’s 1950s White Tie Formalwear

With most men wearing semi-formal attire for evenings and events, there was little need for him to own a formal tuxedo. The exceptions were attire for upper-class weddings, galas and balls, political parties and inaugurations, and other traditional events. In Britain, the use of formalwear was more prevalent than the casual American trend.

1950s Ginger Rodgers & Fred Astaire formal white tie tuxedo suit

Ginger Rodgers & Fred Astaire wearing formal white tie


  • Jacket: Black or midnight blue tailcoat with a tailored fit.
  • Waistcoat: Single or double breasted in white pique with a V front.
  • Trousers: Braided trim tuxedo pants to match the jacket (Satin stripes will be fine too).
  • Shirts: White starched wingtip collar first with single cuffs. No pleats! Smooth front shirts only. Pearl button studs or other precious gems and matching cufflinks.
  • Necktie: White bow tie in pique (matte not shiny).
  • Socks: Blue or black to match the suit.
  • Shoes: Patent leather, low heel formal shoes.
  • Hat: Tophat in silk.
  • Gloves: White leather or quality cotton gloves.
  • Accessories: White suspenders. White silk scarf draped around the neck (taken off with the topcoat, white handkerchief (kept in the pants pocket), and a white or red carnation boutonniere pinned to the jacket lapel.

Fred Astaire and other Hollywood leading entertainers were more inclined to wear formal tailcoats and tuxedo jackets. They paired well with the elegant ladies’ gowns worn in dancing numbers. Fred wore them with ease. He never looked uncomfortable, and perhaps if it wasn’t for his frequent appearance in them, the white tie look would have suffered an earlier death.

 Jack Buchanan and Fred Astaire wearing formal white tie tuxedos

Jack Buchanan and Fred Astaire wearing a formal white tie

Morning Suits – Formal Wedding Groom Attire

Morning suits were considered formal business suits at the turn of the century. They lost favor in the 1920s and onward except for weddings and some political events. Since most weddings were still held in the morning, a morning suit was a fitting look. It was, however, becoming only something wealthy grooms were wearing. Only men who frequented upper-class events owned their own morning suit. The average man who choose to wear one for a wedding had to borrow or rent the suit.

John F Kennedy's wedding wearing a morning suit

John F Kennedy’s wedding wearing a morning suit

1950s bride and groom wearing a morning suit

1950s bride and groom wearing a morning suit

The Morning suit included a grey or black cutaway coat (morning coat), grey and black striped pants, white wingtip collar dress shirt (smooth, no pleats), ascot in silver grey or black with pearl stickpin, grey waistcoat, grey gloves, white carnation, white pocket square, black socks, and black patent leather dress shoes. A black silk top hat completed this traditional look. In some cases, an ascot was replaced by a standard black necktie.

1956, High Society, wedding with groom, Bing Crosby, wearing a dark blue suit coat, grey trousers, and striped necktie.

1956, High Society, wedding with groom, Bing Crosby, wearing a dark blue suit coat, grey trousers, and striped necktie.

Fathers, fathers in law, and groomsmen may also have worn the morning suit. Some casually minded grooms wore a dark dinner jacket over solid grey pants. The look was remarkably similar to business suits, with only the mismatched colors giving away its unique purpose. Indeed, grooms who could not or did not want too include the expense of buying or renting formal wedding clothes opted to wear their best suits — usually dark blue or grey — to a simple church wedding.

This groom wears a grey suit with dark necktie to his wedding

This groom wears a grey suit with a necktie to his wedding


Formal Neckwear Varieties

Neckties for semi formal wear had some variations worth exploring a bit more. Bowties had always been worn with formal suits. White silk for white tie attire and black silk or black tie. The 1950s continued the use of the bow tie, but offered it in shapes that were classically ’50s.

The Butterfly bow tie was an extra full or fluffy bow tie. It was the traditional look.

1950s mens tuxedo with traditional butterfly bow tie (Grantchester mini series)

Traditional butterfly bow tie (Grantchester mini series)

The narrow /skinny / thin bow tie was the new modern design. Also called a batwing bow tie.  It could have had square edges or points.

1950s Pointed ends batwing narrow bow tie

Pointed ends batwing narrow bow tie

The Continental tie was a late 50s/early 60s fad. It was neither a necktie or bowtie but a wide ribbon of black satin or silk that crossed over at neck and was held together by either a pearl snap or pin. The V-shaped version with flaps tucked under is often called a Bulldogger tie today. After the ’60s, it continued as a popular look with Western wear suits.

Continental tie

Continental tie

Your 1950s Formal Suit

1940s men's formlwear, evening suit, tuxedo

Oscar’s Formalwear

Now that you can see the options, what style are you going to wear? Most men will turn to a rental house for a tuxedo. Thankfully, the white dinner jacket with shawl collar is back in style so finding one to rent will not be too difficult. Morning suits and traditional tailcoats may be trickier to find, but they too are coming back in fashion.  You can add some color to your looks like a matching cummerbund and bow tie, or opt for a solid colored jacket instead (avoid contrasting black lapels).

If you want to buy yourself a nice formal, suit I suggest shopping at Jos A Bank first. They have a nice shawl collar dinner jacket, tuxedo pants (with a high waist!), shoes, shirts, and bow ties to create your look (Oscar wears their suit above). They also have traditional notch lapel tuxedos, tailcoats, and suits for rent. I would avoid two-tone jackets (i.e. white jacket with black lapels) or any suit with a skinny fit. Stick to classic cuts and you can’t go wrong for the ’50s.

Here are some more options online:

Sours: https://vintagedancer.com/1950s/1950s-tuxedos-wedding-suits/

Suits wedding 1950s for a

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100 Years of Fashion: Wedding Dresses ★ Glam.com

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