1950s Skirt Styles

by Candace RichComment — Updated September 19, 2023

The 1950s were a time of change in fashion, and no garment embodies this change more than the skirt. In the early part of the decade, skirts were still quite conservative, but as the years went on, the hemlines crept up, and the styles got more fun and playful. From pencil skirts to poodle skirts, women had plenty of options of skirt styles to choose from for their perfect look.

In this article, we’ll be taking a trip down memory lane and exploring the most iconic skirts of the decade.

Popular 1950s Vintage Skirt Styles

1950 skirts came in a variety of styles that many have remained iconic to this day. Popular styles included the Poodle Skirt, known for its playful applique designs, and the Pleated and Pencil Skirts, which were more tailored and formal. Other notable styles ranged from the youthful Suspenders Skirt and the glamorous Mermaid Skirt to the versatile Wrap Skirt and the classic A-line Skirt, each offering a unique look that could be dressed up or down for various occasions. Lets look at them in more details.

The Poodle Skirt

The poodle skirt is the most famous and signature skirt of the ‘50s. It’s a full skirt with a high waistline, made popular by teenagers at the time. The signature element of this skirt is the poodle applique design, which was sewn on the skirt’s hem, making it look fun and playful. Poodles were not the only items used to adorn these skirts, they are just the best remembered. But it was by no means all women wore. Poodle skirts were typically worn with bobby socks and saddle shoes, and were often paired with colorful cardigan sweaters for a preppy look.

1950s Skirt Styles Photo

Credits: recollections.biz

Pleated 1950s Skirt

Pleated 1950s skirts complimented the tailored look favored in the 1950s. Whether as at left with a broader front panel or at right with the slightly larger flare to the skirt. Hemlines were to the knee or just below it. The pleated skirt was often paired with a white blouse or a sweater and was perfect for a preppy or a schoolgirl-inspired look. Fifties skirts Fifties Fashion

Pencil Skirt

No wardrobe was complete without at least one pencil skirt, shown at left. The Pencil Skirt are a great way to add some vintage chic to your wardrobe. The vintage pencil skirt was glamorous and accented a womanly figure. Remember that women didn’t wear pants except for the most casual activities, so you needed a couple of practical skirts.

Fifties skirts

The Dirndl Skirt

The dirndl skirt was a style that originated in Germany but became popular in the United States in the ’50s. This skirt was typically made with a fitted waistband and a full, gathered skirt that fell to mid-calf. The dirndl skirt often featured a print or pattern, such as florals or plaids, and was paired with a simple blouse. This style was particularly popular among young women, who liked the playful, feminine nature of the skirt.


Credits: Portmanteaunewyork.com

Suspenders Skirt

The suspenders skirt, & Evening Skirt was a playful and youthful fashion choice during the 1950s. This skirt style featured a fitted waistband and shoulder straps, reminiscent of overalls. The straps, often adjustable, crossed over the chest or back, creating a unique and charming look. Suspenders skirts were typically made from materials like cotton, denim, or corduroy, which contributed to their casual and approachable appeal.

PDF Vintage 1950s Pattern Suspenders Skirt & Evening Skirt image 1

Credits: Etsy

The Mermaid Skirt

The mermaid skirt was a glamorous design that was made for special occasions. It featured a fitted waist leading to a full skirt that flared outwards, creating the illusion of a mermaid’s tail. The skirt often reached the floor and was made in luxurious fabrics, such as satin or silk.

Veronica mermaid skirt image 1

Credits: Etsy

The Wrap Skirt

The wrap skirt was a versatile and comfortable design that was easy to wear. It had a fitted waist, and the fabric wrapped around, creating a overlaps effect, and fastening with a button or a tie. This skirt could be worn in various lengths, making it a perfect piece for day-to-day wear. It was often made of lightweight fabrics such as cotton or rayon and came in bright and colorful prints.

Vintage 70's Simplicity 7189 TOP-STITCHED WRAP SKIRT Sewing Pattern Women Sz 12 - Picture 1 of 7

Credits: Ebay

Houndstooth 50s Full Circle Bonny Skirt with Pockets

The houndstooth 50s full circle bonny skirt is another timeless look from the 1950s. This style features a high waist, fitted bodice and full circle skirt with front pockets. This skirt, characterized by its classic houndstooth pattern, full circle silhouette, and practical pockets, embodies the timeless elegance of 1950s fashion.

Houndstooth 50s Full Circle Bonny Skirt with pockets Last Chance British Retro

Credits: nhadathoangha.vn

Swing Skirt

The swing skirt was a vintage design that had a fitted high waist leading to a full skirt that swung around with the wearer’s movements, creating a fun and playful look. Pair it with a petticoat or crinoline for added volume and movement.


Credits: belpetite

A variation of the swing skirt, modified to make a peasant style of flare. 50s clothing

The Tulle Skirt

The tulle skirt was a glamorous piece that was made of delicate tulle fabric, creating a ballerina-inspired look. The skirt had a fitted waist leading to a full skirt that was perfect for formal or special occasions. It was often made of pastel colours and came in knee-length or midi-length. The tulle skirt was perfect for a ballet-inspired or a princess look and was often paired with a tiara or a headband.

Fashion 7 Layer Tulle Skirt Womens Vintage Dress 50s Rockabilly Tutu Petticoat Ball Gown - image 5 of 5

Credits: Walmart

The Ballerina Skirt

The ballerina skirt, also called the ballet skirt or tutu skirt, was a whimsical and playful addition to 1950s fashion. Inspired by ballet costumes, these skirts were typically short and made from layers of tulle or chiffon. They were often worn for special occasions or as part of dance-inspired outfits. The ballerina skirt represented the femininity and grace that women of the 1950s admired.

Demi-Longueur (ballerina length) 1955 dotted silk dress by Hubert de Givenchy.
1955 Ballerina Silk Dress by Givenchy

The A-line Skirt

The classic A-line skirt was one of the defining garments of the 1950s.The A-line skirt was a versatile and classic design that had a fitted waist and a full skirt that flared outwards, creating an A-shape. This skirt was perfect for various occasions, from casual to formal, and could be paired with blouses, sweaters, or even T-shirts. Audrey Hepburn famously wore a black A-line skirt in “Sabrina,” cementing the style as a classic piece of any wardrobe.

The Iconic A-Line Skirt

Credits: Weekenddoll

The Wiggle Skirt

The wiggle skirt was a revolution in the ‘50s era. It was designed to hug the body’s curves and showcased a woman’s figure. This skirt was tailored to fit snuggly, ending just below the knee, making the woman look elegant and poised.

PDF 1950's Sewing Pattern: Wiggle Arrow-Slim Pencil image 1

Credits: Etsy

The Gored Skirt

The gored skirt was a skirt made of panels that flared out from the waist to the hem. It was usually made of wool or suiting fabric and had a high waistline and a midi length. The gored skirt was inspired by the New Look by Christian Dior and was often paired with a fitted top or a sweater.

1950s Vintage McCalls Sewing Pattern 9448 Misses 8 Gore Day Skirt Size 26 Waist

Credits: vintage4me2

Tiered Skirt

Tiered Skirt was another skirt that became popular in the 50’s.It was made of layers of fabric that became wider as they descended. It was often made of cotton or silk and came in solid or printed fabrics. The tiered skirt was perfect for a bohemian or a gypsy-inspired look and was often paired with a strappy top or a denim jacket.

1950s Vintage Butterick Sewing Pattern 6859 Misses Three Tiered Skirt Size 28 W


The High-Low Skirt

The high-low skirt was a skirt that had a hemline that was shorter in the front and longer in the back. It was usually made of chiffon or silk and came in floral or abstract prints. The high-low skirt was perfect for a romantic or a bohemian look and was often paired with a lacy or a frilly top.

1950s Skirt Styles Photo

Credits: wikipedia

Plaid skirt

Plaid was a popular pattern in the 1950s, and skirts were no exception. The plaid skirt was usually made of wool and featured a large, bold check pattern in contrasting colours. It was often paired with a white blouse or a sweater and was considered a classic, preppy look. The plaid skirt was perfect for fall and winter wear. Whether you wear yours with a classic blouse, cardigan or cropped tank top, this trend is sure to make a statement.

1950s Skirt Styles Photo

Credits: Pinterest

Leather Skirt

The leather skirt was a skirt that was made of luxurious and edgy leather material. It was usually in black or brown colours and came in mini-length or knee-length. The leather skirt was perfect for a rockabilly or a biker-chick look and was often paired with a leather jacket or a graphic tee.

1950s Skirt Styles Photo

Credits: Pinterest.com

Circle Skirt

This full, circular skirt was a staple in every 50s girl’s wardrobe. It was made of lightweight fabrics such as cotton or rayon and featured a wide waistband and pleats or gathers that gave it its voluminous shape. The circle skirt was incredibly versatile and could be dressed up or down depending on the occasion. It was often paired with a petticoat for extra fluffiness.

1950s Skirt Styles Photo

Credits: anastasiachatzka.com

The Midi Skirt

The midi skirt, characterized by its below-the-knee length, gained popularity in the late 1950s as a departure from the shorter styles of earlier in the decade. These skirts were often made from more conservative fabrics like wool or tweed and were paired with tailored blouses and cardigans. The midi skirt represented a shift towards more modest and practical fashion as the 1950s came to a close.

1950s Skirt Styles Photo

Credits: inspirationwiththedoll.weebly.com

Choosing the Right Top to Complement Your 1950’s Skirt

Women’s fashion in the 50s was characterized by femininity, grace, and a touch of glamour. Here are some ideas on how to pair different types of skirts with various tops to achieve that classic 1950s look:

Full Circle Skirts

  • With a Fitted Blouse: Tuck a fitted blouse into a full circle skirt to accentuate the waistline. This is a classic 1950s look that never goes out of style.
  • With a Sweater: A cropped cardigan or a tight-fitting sweater can also be paired with a full circle skirt for a cozy yet chic look.
  • With a Halter Top: For a more casual, summery vibe, pair a full circle skirt with a halter top.
  • Hair Style: When wearing a full circle skirt, consider opting for a high ponytail adorned with a ribbon for a youthful and playful touch, perfect for daytime activities. For a more formal or evening setting, victory rolls can add a touch of vintage glamour. These hairstyles complement the skirt’s voluminous nature and help to accentuate the waistline, especially when paired with a fitted blouse or a cropped cardigan.

Pencil Skirts

  • With a Button-Up Shirt: Tuck a button-up shirt into a pencil skirt for a sophisticated, office-appropriate look.
  • With a Blouse: A silk or chiffon blouse can add a touch of elegance when paired with a pencil skirt.
  • With a Turtleneck: For a sleek, streamlined look, pair a pencil skirt with a fitted turtleneck.
  • Hair Style: For pencil skirts, a low, sleek chignon can add a layer of sophistication, making it ideal for office wear or formal events. Alternatively, if you have shorter hair, a wavy bob inspired by Marilyn Monroe can add a touch of glamour. These hairstyles work well with the skirt’s slim silhouette and can be paired with a button-up shirt or a silk blouse for a complete look.

A-Line Skirts

  • With a Peter Pan Collar Blouse: This is a quintessentially 1950s look. The Peter Pan collar adds a touch of innocence and charm.
  • With a Crop Top: For a modern twist on a classic style, pair an A-line skirt with a crop top.
  • With a Boat Neck Top: A boat neck top can add a touch of elegance and sophistication to an A-line skirt.
  • Hair Style: With A-Line skirts, a Pageboy cut, which features smooth, curled-under styling, can complement the skirt’s simple elegance. For a more formal look, a French twist can add a touch of sophistication. These hairstyles go well with tops that have unique collars, such as a Peter Pan collar blouse, or even a modern crop top for a contemporary twist on a classic style.

Pleated Skirts

  • With a Polo Shirt: For a preppy look, tuck a polo shirt into a pleated skirt.
  • With a Sleeveless Blouse: A sleeveless blouse can make your pleated skirt look light and airy, perfect for spring or summer.
  • With a Twin Set: A matching cardigan and shell top (known as a twin set) can give a pleated skirt a polished, coordinated look.
  • Hair Style: For pleated skirts, a beehive hairstyle can add a dramatic flair, making it perfect for special occasions or events. For a more casual and relaxed look, a half-up, half-down style with soft waves can be a great choice. These hairstyles pair well with a variety of tops, from polo shirts for a preppy look to sleeveless blouses for a light and airy summer outfit.

Accessories and Footwear

  • Belts: A cinched belt at the waist can add definition and is a hallmark of 1950s fashion.
  • Scarves: A neck scarf can add a pop of color and a touch of femininity.
  • Footwear: Depending on the look you’re going for, a 50s styled shoes such as ballet flats, kitten heels, or stilettos can complement your outfit.
  • Hats: A chic 50s styled hat like pillbox hat or a wide-brimmed hat can add the finishing touch to your 1950s ensemble.
  • Pearls: A string of pearls can add a touch of elegance to almost any 1950s look.
  • Gloves: For formal events, consider adding a pair of short or elbow-length gloves.
  • Handbags: A structured handbag can complete your look. Go for something small and elegant.
  • Hair Accessories: Regardless of the skirt type, you can incorporate hair accessories like headbands, hairpins, and scarves to add that extra flair. Bangs, whether full or side-swept, can add a different dimension to your overall look. While not as common in the 1950s, a unique hair color can modernize your vintage ensemble.

Making Your Own 1950s Skirt Pattern

For those who are feeling creative and want to make an authentic 1950s style skirt themselves, you can create your own pattern from scratch. Start by gathering materials such as fabric, interfacing and a sewing machine. Then measure the waist and hips to get an accurate fit before cutting out pattern pieces. Finally, sew together the pieces to create your own unique vintage style skirt.

The 1950s era was a golden age of fashion that gave birth to many iconic and timeless clothing pieces. Our list of skirts are some of the best and well-known styles from the vintage 1950s. Whether you are nostalgic or simply just love vintage fashion, there’s no denying that the skirts from the 50’s never go out of style. By wearing these skirts, you can embrace the essence of the decade and introduce a unique piece into your wardrobe.

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