Archive for June, 2009

Sock Hops, Part 1: What’s a Sock Hop Anyway?

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

Movies depicting the fifties and sixties show fun sock hops with great music, dancing and of course, the latest men and women’s fashion of the day. By the late sixties sock hops started to disappear but recently themed parties and people wanting to relive those happy days have brought them back.

Sock hop dances started out first in high school auditoriums because the teachers didn’t want the students, mostly the young girls, to scratch the wooden floors with their shoes. So, they started asking the students to take off their shoes when they would go out and dance. The young teens would kick off their shoes and dance around in their socks. This started a new cultural trend that lasted all through the 50’s and most of the 60’s.

The name sock hop, or soc hop, was soon a commonly heard name for teen parties. Teens during the 50’s and 60’s were brought together at these parties by their love of the new music appropriately called rock ‘n’ roll. First parents thought the name was derogatory, but soon realized it was a description of dance moves taken on by some of the singers.

Sock hops in many ways were a way for teens to kick off their troubles and get out and enjoy music with their friends. Sock hops were enjoyed mostly at high school auditoriums, then moved to more private parties at homes or at malt shops. Anywhere they wanted a crowd they would advertise for sock hops. Like the young teens of the fifties and sixties, many people today love to relive these parties. Some like the theme, others the fifties and others the fashion. Whatever your reason, you are sure to have fun at a sock hop.

The King!

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

Elvis Presley is recognized by millions as one of the most influential people in music history. Elvis’s influence was so widespread and so profound that many refer to him as the ‘King of Rock ‘n’ roll’. His career included acting, singing, song writing and performing.

Elvis wasn’t always the cool popular boy we usually think of when we think back on the 50’s. He was described in his youth as a “well-mannered and quiet child.” At times he was the target of classmate cruelty. Things were thrown at him because he was different. He stuttered and he was a considered a mama’s boy.

Even when he first started performing in the fifties he was described as a shy, well-mannered, quiet boy. Yet he was an amazing performer. None who talked to him could believe that he was the same guy on the stage singing and dancing in such controversial ways. The reaction of the crowd was something that had never been seen before. Yet, when he first started recording no one looked at him as anything different. Right before his first recording they asked him who he sounded like. His response was, “I don’t sound like nobody.” He soon proved that true and this was the voice and music America had been waiting for.

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The Immortal Jimmy

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

James Dean was a huge icon during the 1950s. He had it all going for him, the look and fashion, talent along with a great progressing movie career. His life was cut short at a very young age but this didn’t stop him from being a powerful fifties icon that is still idolized and discussed during our age.

His acting career first started when he appeared in a Pepsi commercial.


Soon after, he quit college to work full time as an actor. He appeared in shows and movies such as Hill Number One, Fixed Bayonets, Sailor Beware and Has Anybody Seen My Gal.

In the fifties his career picked up when he appeared in The Web, studio One, Lux Video Theatre and Omnibus. Omnibus was a stepping-stone for his role in Rebel Without a Cause because he played almost the exact same character.

Rebel Without a Cause (see trailer) was the movie that truly immortalized Jimmy Dean. Every girl in the fifties fell in love with him. Joe Hyams said that Dean was “one of the rare stars, like Rock Hudson and Montgomery Clift, who both men and women find sexy.”

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Men’s Shoes of the 50’s

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

Mostly slip-ons or loafers dominated men’s shoes during the 50s. When you had to tie your shoes it usually meant one of two things, it was either a formal event or you were playing a sport. Converse shoes changed some of that. They were considered both sporty and fashionable.

Interesting to note, the famous Chuck Taylor Converse shoes, sometimes called chucks, weren’t very popular when they first came out in the year 1917. They were made in an attempt to be the number one basketball shoe but for the most part they were a failure. It wasn’t until basketball player Chuck Taylor called Converse his number one choice that the demand for Converse went up.

Black was the typically preferred color but soon the demand for other colors and styles came. At one point they even had knee high Converse. During the 50s, Converse ruled the basketball court. It wasn’t until the 1970s that athletes would choose other shoes for basketball.

During the early 50s Converse shoes unveiled their low top. The shoes were no longer just for the basketball court. They became the number one, top selling shoe. Men would wear these for sports, school, hanging out and dates. These came in any color or design. They were also available in leather.

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Women’s Shoes in the 50’s

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

Women’s shoes and socks of the 50’s were the perfect added touch to complete any outfit. Even now, when dressing up for a sock hop or Halloween you have to have just the right shoes to make the outfit a hit.

Flats as well as heals were in during this time period. Saddle oxfords are the traditional shoes to complete any poodle skirt. These were worn to school or a date. The flair of the poodle skirts and the comfort of saddle oxfords would make it a perfect outfit for any dance as well. Oxfords were white and black. They were best worn with white shoe laces as well.

The ‘ballet’ shoes were flats that were frequently worn to school and church. They were best worn with a pair of white socks with lace that was folded over.

Penny loafers were also a hit during this time period. These were flats worn by both men and women. They are much like the loafers worn today but they had a slit that was located toward the top of the shoe that you could put a penny in. If the shoes were really cool sometimes you could fit a quarter in it.

Many believe that the trademark shoe of the 50’s wasn’t the saddle oxfords but the stiletto-heeled shoe. These were very fist seen at a Dior fashion show in 1952. These shoes were all different colors and heights. They would go up to 5 inches and would be both open toed, close toed or pointy.

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Fashions of the 1950’s

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

50’s Fashion

The 50’s are one of the decades that exemplifies America. From the ’57 Chevy to Elvis and The Beatles, the 50’s were a great time to live. One of the great pieces of the 50’s that still lives today is 50’s fashion, and no piece of 50’s fashion is more iconic than the 50’s poodle skirt. However, to truly get into the spirit of the 50’s a number of things are required besides the poodle skirt.

Blouses

Most blouses in the 50’s where tighter fitting with quarter length sleeves. They sometimes had a pocket or an appliqué sewn on the front on the right of left shoulder. Most blouses had collars albeit very small collars and a scarf would sometimes be worn to accessorize the outfit. Lastly, the blouse would be tapered around the waist very tightly to give the appearance of a small waist line.

Pants

Pencil leg pants were quite popular. These were tight fitting pants that stopped about mid calve. They were very similar to what we consider capris today. Again the pants were tight and were worn that way to give a very slimming appearance.


Skirts

Unlike the blouses and pants, the skirts worn in the 50’s were very full and loose fitting. The most popular skirt was the poodle skirt, which was a long full skirt that went to about mid calve, and was worn with a Crinoline Petticoat or a full slip to give the skirt more body. A thick belt was worn to separate the tight blouse from the full poodle skirt and this gave the impression of a very small waist.

Shoes

Saddle Oxford Shoes were worn by most girls. These were very simple shoes that were great for dancing at a Sock Hop. They had about a 1” soles which didn’t give them much height. They were white and black and were worn with Bobby Socks, which were little socks that went about ankle length.

Accessories

We have already mentioned a few accessories like scarves, belts and bobby socks. Some other 50’s accessories were Cat-eye Glasses and Pearl Jewelry. Anyone of these accessories will really help finish off a 50’s costume or outfit.

50’s Poodle Skirts

Most of the mentioned items can be purchases at www.50spoodleskirts.com . For the last decade 50’s Poodle Skirts have been designing and producing some of the most authentic 50’s fashion, apparel and accessories online.