Get the Silhouette!
In every era, fashion has its own set of shapes, or silhouettes. From the fussy bustles of the Victorian era to the straight, modern lines of the art deco 1920s, silhouettes reflect the attitudes and aesthetics of their time.
The 1950's saw an explosion of prosperity for the United States, and the dresses from that era reflect it. After two decades, the lean years of the depression and the fabric rationing of the war were over. In 1947, Christian Dior sent shockwaves through the fashion world with his "New Look" collection. With its cinched waists and full, voluminous skirts, this style set the tone for years to come. Curvy, hourglass were in!
Fit & flare dresses have a fitted bodice and a full skirt. Think cocktail parties and Grace Kelly. This style was very fashionable from the late 40's through the early 60's, and has become popular again today. Fit & flare dresses are a fun, feminine style with swirling skirts that look great out dancing. They can be worn with a crinoline for extra volume or alone to really let the skirt move.
Pencil dresses run the gamut from office wear (Joan Harris on Mad Men) to slinky pinup garb (Jayne Mansfield and Marilyn Monroe) to elegant evening gowns (Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's) Pencil dresses are fitted from top to bottom, with a straight or slightly tapered narrow skirt that usually falls somewhere near the knees. The pencil silhouette is a sexy style that accentuates and flatters the feminine shape on women of all sizes.
Shirtwaist dresses are a practical, easy-to-wear look, with a collared bodice that buttons up like a dress shirt and end at the natural waistline. The skirt flares out, and its volume can range from a subtle A line to a full circle or more. Lucille Ball frequently rocked this look on "I Love Lucy", and indeed shirtwaist dresses were a popular choice for housewives of the 1950's, as they are comfortable enough to wear around the house but can be dressed up easily with a hat and gloves.
What's your favorite silhouette? Try a fitted bodice and full skirt for going out on the town or a figure hugging pencil dress to bring out your inner va-va voom. And on those days when you feel the urge for stylish comfort slip on a pretty shirtwaist dress. The right silhouette can really shape up your style.