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1950s actresses style and outfits

From Monroe To Hepburn: How 1950s Actresses Influenced Clothing Trends

The 1950s hold a special place in the history of fashion, marked as an era of elegance and sophistication. During this time, Hollywood actresses played a significant role in shaping fashion trends and becoming style icons for generations to come. In this blog post, we will delve into the world of 1950s fashion, exploring the influence of the top 10 actresses of the era and how they defined the fashion landscape.

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Top 1950s Actresses and their Fashion Styles

The 1950s is often referred to as the "Golden Age" of Hollywood. During this time, Hollywood experienced significant growth, and the film industry saw a surge in popularity both domestically and internationally. This era is known for producing some of the most iconic films and memorable actors and actresses in history. The 1950s also marked a period of technological advancements in filmmaking, with the introduction of CinemaScope and Technicolor, leading to visually stunning productions.

Here are the most popular 1950s female actresses and their iconic outfits.


1. Audrey Hepburn

Audrey Hepburn's style was characterized by simplicity and grace. She was known for her love of tailored pieces, such as high-waisted pants, pencil skirts, and simple tops. Audrey became a symbol of the elegance, to an extent due to the fashion trends of 1950s that worshiped elegance and femininity.

1950s actresses audrey hepburn

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In various movies, she also wore accessories, such as hats and gloves. It was typical for the fashion trends of the era.

audrey hepburn 1950s fashion

holly golightley dress outfit 1950s

One of her most iconic outfits was the little black dress she wore as Holly Golightly in "Breakfast at Tiffany's."

audrey hepburn 1950s outfits givenchy sabrina

Another iconic 1950s outfit was the white dress she wore in "Sabrina". This Givenchy-designer organza white gown later sold for $204,000 at an auction.


2. Marilyn Monroe

marilyn monroe 1950s actress

Marilyn Monroe exuded sensuality and charm, epitomizing the hourglass figure of the 1950s.

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She popularized figure-hugging, body-conscious clothing, including pencil skirts, halter necks, and strapless dresses.

1950s actress marilyn monroe seven year itch outfit

Marilyn Monroe's dress from "The Seven Year Itch" (1955) is iconic for several reasons. In the film, Monroe's character stands on a subway grate as a train passes by, causing the air to blow up her dress and revealing her legs. This moment is undoubtedly one of the most iconic moments in film history. The dress itself, an ivory-colored halterneck dress, designed by William Travilla, became synonymous with Monroe and epitomizes the feminine glamour of the era. The dress was designed to accentuate Marilyn's curves, and its flowing A-line shape and lightweight fabric made it perfect for the iconic subway scene. The dress was sold in 2011 by Debbie Reynolds for $4.6 million, making it one of the most expensive pieces of film memorabilia ever sold. Beyond the film, the dress and “The Seven Year Itch” has become cultural shorthand for “Old Hollywood Glamor”.

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Monroe's performance was not only memorable but also further cemented her status as a fashion icon. The dress perfectly showcased her beauty and effortless style, solidifying Marilyn Monroe's reputation as one of 1950s style icons. In a way, the dress came to symbolize both Marilyn’s and America's changing attitudes towards sex and femininity during the '50s. It represented a more liberated and bold version of femininity that would come to define the decade.

Monroe's iconic pink dress from "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" (1955) remains an emblem of the era. And let's not forget the gloves, a widely spotted accessory of the time.

1950s actresses marilyn monroe

3. Grace Kelly

Grace Kelly's style was marked by a touch of royalty, showcasing elegance and sophistication.

grace kelly 1950s actress fashion style
She favored classic, chic clothing, often seen in tailor-made dresses, suits, and silk scarves.

grace-kelly-1954 actress chanel dress

Grace Kelly's black and white Chanel dress from "Rear Window" became a fashion sensation and still inspires designers today. 

In the movie "Rear Window," Grace Kelly's character, Lisa Fremont, wore a stunning Chanel dress that became iconic. The dress featured a fitted bodice, a cinched waist, and a full skirt with layers of tulle, giving it a glamorous and feminine look. It was a classic example of a "New Look" silhouette dress.

The color of the dress has been described as an "eau de nil" shade, which is a pale greenish-blue color. The dress complemented Grace Kelly's beauty and elegance, and it became one of the most memorable costumes in the film.

The dress represented the character's fashionable and sophisticated style. It showcased the fashion trends of the 1950s and reflected the overall costume design of the film, which was praised for its attention to detail and style.


4. Elizabeth Taylor

elizabeth tayor 1950s actress

Elizabeth Taylor is widely regarded as a fashion icon, known for her impeccable style and glamorous fashion choices. She was known for her lavish taste, reflecting her glamorous personality.

Taylor's fashion style evolved over the years, and she embraced various trends, from elegant and sophisticated to daring and avant-garde. She was known for her love of luxurious fabrics, vibrant colors, and statement jewelry, often adorning herself with piles of diamonds and other precious stones.

She embraced opulence, often donning form-fitting strapless dresses and extravagant jewelry. Her wardrobe from "Cleopatra" showcased vibrant colors, bold makeup, and striking accessories.

1950s actress cleopatra elizabeth taylor 1

Off the red carpet, Taylor displayed an equally remarkable fashion sense. Her casual attire was often tailored and chic, showcasing her understanding of fashion even in more relaxed settings.

elizabeth taylor vintage 1950s style

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Her red-carpet appearances were always highly anticipated, with Taylor effortlessly exuding elegance and glamour. From opulent ball gowns to figure-hugging cocktail dresses, she had a keen eye for selecting pieces that accentuated her beauty and made a lasting impression.

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5. Doris Day

move-over-darling_doris-day 1950s actresses

Doris Day had a timeless and classic fashion style that was feminine, yet practical, and remains influential today. She was often seen wearing elegant dresses, tailored suits, and chic separates, reflecting the main fashion trends of the 1950s and 1960s. Day also embraced the use of bold colors, playful prints and patterned fabrics such as gingham.

1950s actress doris day

In many of her movies, Day wore an array of feminine and figure-flattering dresses, as well as chic work attire and casual pieces typical for the 1950s style. Her fashion sense was modest and classic, featuring elegant cuts and distinct silhouettes. She was admired for her effortless style and sophisticated elegance on and off-screen and, unlike many other 1950s actresses, wore down-to-earth pieces that you could also see on regular women during that era.

gingham doris day 1950s actress

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Decades after her prime, Day’s fashion style remains an inspiration for many designers. Her timeless looks and adherence to classic cuts and silhouettes made her a true fashion icon.

Embodying the girl next door, she often sported knee-length fitting dresses, paired with cardigans and flats. One of her iconic outfits was the culotte pantsuit, which she wore in "Move Over Darling."


6. Sophia Loren

Sophia Loren's style was glamorous and sultry. She was basically the Italian brunette Marilyn Monroe. On and off the screen, Loren preferred form-fitting outfits and dresses that showcased her curves, and was known to favor high-waisted skirts and pants. For instance, her wardrobe in in the 1950s movie "Houseboat" included tailored shirts, fitted dresses, and oversized sunglasses.

sophia loren houseboat 1950s actresses

Another notable outfit was the pink belted Pierre Balmain dresses she wore in the "Millionnaires" movie.

 1950s outfit sophia loren dress from balmain millionnaires

Another iconic look for Loren was the custom Dior suits and dresses that exemplified her classic style and perfectly tailored silhouettes.

1950s fashion sophia loren dior dress

Loren also made a fashion statement with her beachside short-shorts and figure-enhancing corsets. These outfits captured her sultry and glamorous image, making her a true embodiment of a bombshell icon.

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7. Brigitte Bardot

Brigitte Bardot's style was playful and chic. She popularized the bikini and made her signature style of tousled hair and winged eyeliner. She was famous for her off-the-shoulder tops, flirty dresses, and capri pants.

brigitte bardot off the shoulder neckline

One of her most famous outfits is a red body-conscious boatneck dress that she wore in her breakthrough film, "Et Dieu... Créa la Femme" ("And God Created Woman"). She also often wore matching suits and skirt combinations, which showcased her sophisticated and chic style.

1950s dress brigitte bardot

Additionally, Bardot was frequently seen wearing headbands and Breton tops, which have become iconic elements of her signature look.

brigitte bardot 1950 breton tops and headband

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8. Judy Garland

Judy Garland's style was feminine and sophisticated. She often wore knee-length cocktail dresses with fitted waistlines and voluminous skirts. Her fitted suits and pillbox hats were also notable.

1950s outfits judy garland

9. Ginger Rogers

ginger rogers 1950s outfit

Ginger Rogers' style was elegant and timeless. She was one of the 1950s actresses who preferred figure-hugging dresses, tailored suits, and elegant accessories. Her wardrobe in "Top Hat" featured backless gowns and elegant hats that inspired fashion designers of the era.

10. Debbie Reynolds

debbie reynolds 1950s actress

Debbie Reynolds' style was fresh and youthful. She often wore fit-and-flare dresses, cardigans, and saddle shoes. Her iconic outfit in "Singin' in the Rain", featuring a yellow raincoat and umbrella, remains a fashion statement today. Her other outfit from the musical, the "Kathy Selden" screen worn lavender silk chiffon dress, was sold at the Invaluable auction in 2017.


Analysis of Fashion Trends in the 1950s

1950s fashion trends

To fully understand the impact of these actresses on fashion trends, it is essential to examine the fashion landscape of the 1950s. This was a time where femininity and elegance were celebrated. Fabrics such as chiffon, silk, and taffeta were popular, often incorporating delicate prints and embroidery.

Colors ranged from soft pastels to vibrant hues, reflecting the optimism and prosperity of the post-war era. The defining silhouette of the decade was the emphasis on the waistline with full skirts and cinched waists, creating an hourglass figure.

The 1950s witnessed the rise of iconic outfits and accessories that have become cultural touchstones. One such example is the polka dot dress, popularized by actresses like Lucille Ball and Doris Day.

Pearls also became a staple accessory, with actresses like Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly frequently seen wearing them. Other iconic items include cat-eye sunglasses, pillbox hats, gloves, and pointy-toed pumps.

Tips on Incorporating 1950s Fashion into Modern Outfits

Despite being a bygone era, 1950s fashion continues to inspire modern trends. Here are some tips on incorporating the essence of the era into your outfits:

  • Incorporate high-waisted pants or skirts for a touch of vintage sophistication.
  • Experiment with bold prints, such as polka dots or gingham.
  • Embrace the hourglass silhouette by cinching your waist with belts or fitted dresses.

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  • Accessorize with pearls, cat-eye sunglasses, or retro-inspired handbags.
  • Opt for classic, tailored pieces that exude elegance and refinement.


    In conclusion, these actresses became style icons of the 1950s due to their unique style and the way they wear their outfits with confidence that inspires generations after the decade was over. Their fashion choices shaped the era and continue to influence fashion trends to this day.

    The influence of 1950s actresses on fashion and culture remains indelible. Through their fashion choices, they defined an era and shaped the course of fashion for decades to come. Their timeless elegance and impeccable style continue to inspire designers and fashion enthusiasts today. By incorporating elements of 1950s fashion into our modern wardrobes, we pay homage to these legendary actresses and keep their legacy alive.

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