The United States had emerged victorious from another bitter war. Television was now in many households, and the TV culture of I Love Lucy and The Honeymooners reflected ideals of the time. Other stars such as Marilyn Monroe, Brigitte Bardot, and Elvis Presley introduced a smoldering sex appeal into an age of conservatism.

Consumerism became a popular pastime in the 1950s, as the post-war boom provided a sense of economic optimism. New gadgets and gizmos proclaimed the future was here and liberated women from many onerous household tasks. Homemaking, it seemed, was not so bad when you had electric stoves, vacuum cleaners, refrigerators, and the like. Women could now concentrate on making a comfortable home for their families, and still have time to have a life outside of the kitchen.




Constant rounds to barbecues, cocktail parties, and other social events all required dressing up. Christian Diorís New Look influenced fashion, but so did the conservative elegance of Coco Chanel. Charles Jourdan introduced a new kind of shoe style, the stiletto heel, in 1951. As time went on the goal was for the slimmest possible heel, eliminating earlier "chunky" styles.

Embellishments returned with a vengeance and shoes were made in a variety of shapes and material. Designers such as Roger Vivier worked to challenge the conventional ideas of silhouette and construction. The pump was the basic shoe, but its toes might be cut, the vamps curved or cut in enticing Vs, or the heels molded into a variety of shapes. Every color of the rainbow was used; shoes were intended to match an outfit perfectly.

Teenagers were once again the focal point. Films such as Rebel without a Cause were influential in how teenagers dressed. The Beatnik culture, inspired by authors such as Jack Kerouac, was in vogue. Leather, Leviís, and Converse sneakers helped create the look. Along with the famous poodle skirts and ponytails, saddle shoes, penny loafers, and colored sneakers were popular with teenaged bobby-soxers. Sandals, ballet slippers, and other casual footwear became increasingly fashionable, as pool parties and other casual outdoor activities became popular.

Life seemed idyllic to many, but a storm was brewing Ö

continue > > >