Vintage 1950s Suits

Everyone seems to have a different idea of 1950s fashion, from poodle skirts to shirtwaist frocks, giant petticoats to wiggle dresses. The lovely part is that there were *all* these styles and more, something (or many things) to fit everyone.

One of my favorite types of garment from the ’50s is the suit. There’s something about a perfectly tailored, crisp and structure 1950s suit that just screams respectable elegance to me (although I suppose someone respectable and elegant wouldn’t be screaming…).

To inspire, here are some of my favorite ’50s suits for ladies:

Balenciaga, 1951, via
Dovima, 1952, via
Dovima in Hattie Carnegie, 1952, via

Don’t these all just look so doable? They’re fairly simple, but perfectly made. Tailors among us know that these clean lines and smooth angles result from a whole mess of underlying techniques. I guess I’ll be consulting my tailoring book, then…

Lilli Ann suit, Etsy seller Mill Street Vintage

Another understructure to consider – waist cinching. Don’t forget that the ’50s made heavy use of the girdle and corsetry of various kinds. These suits characteristically nip in at the waist, then flair out over the hips. Many of the ’50s suit jackets also have padding where they flair over the hips, to accentuate the silhouette.

Not all ’50s suits were a tight fit, though. Boxy jackets worn with pencil skirts were en vogue too, especially moving into the ’60s.

1958, via
Jean Patchett, 1951, via

Luckily there are lots of ’50s suits available on eBay and Etsy, and myriad sewing patterns so you can make your own. It’s like “secret vintage” for the office, or when you need to pull out all the stops in a business meeting. I always imagine wearing something like this to woo businessmen and car salesmen. There’s something empowering yet feminine in these suits.

What do you think? Are you a ’50s suit loving woman, or do you go more for the fluffy ’50s looks?


  • Eleonora Amalia

    June 24, 2014 at 6:26 PM

    OMG these jackets are awesome, especially those tight around the waist <3 I'm into 1950's lately and did some fangirling research on Dovima. Found out she had 19" waist. Is that even anatomically possible? Lol.

  • Anonymous

    June 24, 2014 at 7:00 PM

    Vintage suits are my favorite. I'm working on improving my sewing skills so I can take on tailoring and welt pockets. These are gorgeous inspiration.

  • Unknown

    June 25, 2014 at 10:29 AM

    I do love jackets and skirts but don't wear suits. My problem is being shorter with a very hour glass figure the proportions of a jacket are so important. I have thought about making a 50s jacket, specifically a black all purpose jacket for wearing with wider skirts. I love the Balenciaga, what a lovely soft lines, incredible cutting and construction. I do like the look of the fourth jacket up from the bottom, that last 50s example, it has a lovely neckline which would be great on someone with my shape.

  • Unknown

    June 25, 2014 at 10:47 PM

    I too am short and have an hourglass figure. I'm also very short-waisted and have always felt like I'm a bit too top-heavy. I just don't look good in suits–I look dumpy and frumpy. But give me a fluffy 50s style dress with a fitted bodice and full skirt, and I look fabulous! Maybe a fitted jacket with a full skirt would be a nice compromise?

  • Black Tulip

    June 25, 2014 at 10:56 PM

    Ooh these are gorgeous! I have my mum's going-away suit from 1955, and at some point I want to have developed the tailoring skills to recreate it in a size that I can actually wear – sadly I take after my dad in build!

  • Lauriana

    July 1, 2014 at 1:36 PM

    I love the suits of the early 1950's. I've been thinking about making one for a while but I'll have to work hard on the pattern to get the proportions right. And wear a waist cincher, probably. I have a reasonable waist-to-hip ratio, but nothing THAT defined

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