In the ’40s menswear was popular for ladies, not only because so many women were joining up, but also because some women had to make due with men’s clothes cut down and re-sewn into more feminine fashions. The “natural” look was in for women, with thick eyebrows that contrasted with the thin brows of the ’30s. Despite the natural beauty image, face powder and lipstick were essential to the concept of ’40s beauty. Stars like Rita Hayworth and Veronica Lake made longer hair more popular.
While men’s fashion briefly had a shake-up with zoot suits in the early ’40s, the overall look of the decade was filled with boxy cuts. The famous 49er jacket was popular for both men and women. Men’s hair was slightly longer than in the previous decade and always kept very much in control with pomade. Movie stars like Cary Grant and Humphrey Bogart made the rugged man seem dapper indeed.
In the late’40s the New Look dress, first introduced by Christian Dior, had a deep effect on women’s fashion going forward. In the ’50s this look really took hold, emphasizing a feminine hourglass silhouette in most clothing for women. Stars like Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield were all curves and reflected this new trend on the big screen.
Short hair was kept curled and makeup was worn more frequently by average women as TV ads showcased a whole new world of beauty products.
The grey flannel suit was in style for men during the ’50s, but so were a whole new range of casual and sportswear. Two-tone polo shirts, khakis, flannels, and other relaxed clothing became acceptable for men. ’50s haircuts for men were short and basic – much less complicated than those of the previous 2 decades. Clean shaven was the new standard and the rockabilly or greaser hairstyles were seen as very youthful.