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Research Paper-History of Costume

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Background Information

The end of World War ll characterizes the decade leading up to 1960. Men returned home from war to start families and start what is known as the baby boom. The post-war economy was a wave of prosperity. The economy grew while prices stayed fairly steady. Men returning from war had benefits provided by GI Bills giving them the ability to go back to school, low-interest mortgages and priority for jobs. Many returning servicemen flocked to universities. (Payne, Winakor & Farrell-Beck, Page 130-134) Highways were expanding and many families moved from urban areas and crowded increasingly popular suburban areas. Family travel and leisure time also increased (Tortora & Eubank, 2005, Page 30) Expansion of interstates and better automobiles also contribute to added leisure time. (Farrell-Beck & Parsons, Page 136) Air travel also became less expensive; allowing people to travel and be exposed to more fashion overseas. Due to easier travel, new centers of fashion emerged across the world. London, Paris and Rome joined Paris and New York as prominent fashion centers. (Tortora & Eubank ,2005, Page 32) For the first time televisions became a huge part of daily life. People got ideas and inspiration for fashion from movie stars and entertainers on television. Fashion was becoming more accessible, changing and spreading everywhere. (Payne, Winakor, & Farrell-Beck Page 601-607)

In a post war decade, with new technology, a new generation emerging and more leisurely lifestyles, fashions will change drastically. American designers ready-to wear designers become more prominent after many French Haute Couture designers had to flee during the war. Claire Mcardell, Norman Norell and Pauline Trigiere all helped to make changes in fashion. The most prominent change happened when Dior introduced what is known as the "New Look" in 1947, featuring new A-line and H-line skirts, narrow waists and dropped hemlines. This look stayed prominent throughout most of the 50's. It is no surprise that around the end of the decade women's fashion will begin change again as people grow tired of trends. Designers will transition to a softer, easier look and suits will show straight fitting skirts, rising hemlines and less fitted jacket tops. (Tortora & Eubank, 2005, Page 505-515).

Results of Primary Research

The point at which the general public started to move on from the "New Look" of the early 50's and start accepting a more unfitted look is unclear. Suits and dresses with matching jackets were a wardrobe standard. (Farrell-Beck & Parsons, page 149) Suits in the late 50's and early 60's at first glance may seem simple, but with further investigation it can be seen that intricate patterns may have been used to achieve this illusion. By 1957, most suits featured a shorter jacket, loosely fitted and usually hitting above the waist. (Tortora & Eubank, 2005, Page 34-35) .The look Brenda is wearing in Figure 1 can be found frequently in popular magazines such as Vogue and Harper's Bazaar from 1958-1960. Figure 8 is an example of the general look for suits transitioning into the 60's.This style, with slight differences in fit and shape, remains popular throughout a few seasons.

As for the skirts, by 1959 most designers are creating garments with waistlines just below the breast. Although some skirts were full, the majority of them were narrow and straight, like the one Brenda is wearing (Vogue 1958-1960, Harpers Bazaar 1958). Some skirts were so narrow that a slit or pleat was added in the back to allow for full strides (Tortora & Eubank 2005, Page 511). They seem to be mostly plain and grow rapidly shorter as the decade moves into the 60's. Slightly boxier shapes in jackets were predominant by the end of the 50's leading into the 60's, a major change from the "New Look" of the previous years. (Payne, Winakor & Farrell-Beck, Page 601-605; Tortora & Eubank 2005, Page 601-607) Jackets had a variety of collar styles, though most seen in the November, issue of Vogue from 1959 were oversized and large, like in Figure 4. Common collar styles included Peter Pan, rolled, notched and more (Tortora &



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