Thursday, 26 May 2016

Clothes from the 50s and 60s

Are the clothes kids wear now-a-days, really any different to clothes worn by their parents or grandparents in years gone by? Just what did the best dressed babies and toddlers wear? I don't know about best dressed, but I've dug out some photos of my sister and I back in the 50s and early 60s.

Baby, toddler and children's clothes from the 1950s and 1960s ~ Threading My Way

Doesn't my Dad look proud, holding me after my Christening - elaborate gown, fancy bib, cute little bonnet and a gold bracelet. I wish I still had that gold bracelet. Don't know what happened to it. I do still have a gold brooch with my name engraved. Maybe that's under the bib? Mum, can you remember?

What do modern babies wear for Christenings, Baptisms, Naming Days, or other such equivalent ceremonies? My own babies, back in the 80s, didn't have any outfits like this... or gold jewellery either.

Baby, toddler and children's clothing from the 1950s and 1960s ~ Threading My Way

I'd like to think that bonnet doubled as a sun hat with the brim down, but I can't find one single photo where I have a bonnet on with the brim down. Come to think of it, there's very few photos of my sister and I in sun hats at any age. Maybe we wore hats but they were whipped off for the purposes of photos. 

I've seen the odd baby bonnet on Pinterest, but I imagine, with that choking hazard ribbon, that they'd be a thing of the past.

I most certainly didn't wear any body suits, leggings or stretch onsies. It was all woven fabric dresses and gowns, or hand knitted outfits and booties.

This button down dress is very pretty, with the delicate lace on the sleeves and the Peter Pan collar. Wish it was in colour to see the detail on the fabric.

Apparently I was holding Dad's keys to keep me amused during the photo shoot.


My dressmaker Aunty probably sewed most of the clothes in these photos. This one has lace on the edges of the yoke, with what looks like embroidery, as well. 

I think this dress is pretty typical of those worn by toddlers now, perhaps without the lace. I know I dressed my own daughter in similar dresses almost three decades after this photo was taken.

The leather, buckle up shoes are fairly timeless. I don't even know if it was possible to buy shoes that were not leather back then.

Those little turned down socks look so sweet, but I can remember the day, as a teenager, when I pulled my socks up, never to have them rolled down again.

Obviously I hadn't developed a fear of dogs at that age, as I don't seem at all concerned. I don't know how my fear came about, but to this day, I am very wary of dogs and am not at all comfortable in their presence. I was bitten once, but I was scared before then.


The latest toddler car seats of the 1950s... I'm sure my sister would have been catapulted straight out of that harness had the car been involved in an accident. Thankfully, it was never put to the test. Looks like I had metal arm rest on my seat; the vacant seat to the left in the photo.

My sister's outfit looks like it's made from a thin overlay with lace edges. I'm guessing Mum had to do LOTS of hand washing! Underneath she would have been wearing a cloth nappy (diaper) - no disposable nappies back then.


That's me on the left. I'm the eldest, the one with the bow. My dress has a bodice and a lace trim. Little Sis' outfit is rather shapeless, more like a gown than a dress. Perhaps she was still in nappies. 


Just look at that bow!!! There's lots of photos of me as a toddler sporting a fancy schmancy hair accessory. Bows largely disappeared for my daughter's generation, to be replaced with scrunchies and the like. What goes around comes around, and hair bows are fashionable again, although rather more elaborate than mine.

Looks like I'm at the beach, but possibly too cold for swimming as I have a cardigan on - hand knitted of course, by either my Mum or Nana.

The dress, again a timeless style - a widish bodice, with a gathered skirt attached. I think I can see a ribbon hanging down at the back. Ribbons and bows have come in and out of fashion.


It's a bit hard to see the style of this dress, but I can see contrasting fabric on the shoulders, complete with little bows. The pockets match the shoulders. I can't recall seeing this style elsewhere.

The outfit is finished off with another decorative bonnet and something on my wrist - maybe that gold bracelet; it's a little hard to see. And there's the buckle up sandals, complete with little socks, too.

Obviously, we're in the outdoors somewhere - maybe out for a picnic. Do you remember, Mum? We usually wore our good clothes when we left the house - very rarely casual clothes when we went out. They were mainly for home use.


I love this one - not the bowl haircuts, but the photo and the dresses. Both dresses have bodices which come to the waist, with a gathered skirt attached. Mine opens with a button down front, and I imagine my sister's dress has either buttons or a zip at the back. We each have a bow, one at the waist and the other at the neckline. The collar on my dress is the standout feature.

Both of these dresses are variations on a theme - bodice to the waist, with a gathered skirt. It's the details that make them, and modern day styles, different.


Ha, ha... I suppose we were trying to catch something. We were all matchy matchy in those dresses with the sailor collars, another design feature which comes in and out of fashion. I haven't seen them around for a while now, but when my kids were very little, they were common.

I'm thinking those dresses would most definitely have had the twirl factor, something that is most important for most young girls. We used to have competitions to see who could get their dress to twirl the highest.


I've always loved gingham - still do, but I don't think it's worn a lot today. I have seen square necklines on many girls' dresses worn today.


My sister's mauve floral dress looks fancier than my gingham one, but in reality, it's once again all in the details. They both have a square neckline, bodice to the waist, pockets and a gathered skirt. The added piping and flutter sleeves add some variation.

I think any young lady would be more than happy to wear this dress in 2016. 

Are the clothes kids wear now-a-days, really any different to clothes worn by their parents or grandparents in years gone by? Just what did the best dressed babies and toddlers wear in the 1950s and 1960s? ~ Threading My Way

Winter attire was mainly pinafores (jumpers if you live in the U.S.) with a knitted jumper (sweater) underneath. I know for a fact that a similar type of dress is worn now, as the style has some of the features of the Button Up Jumper that I pattern tested.

I think the majority of modern pinafores, however, tend to be A-line in shape, with no gathering.


Another gathered pinafore, but this time without the buttons. Look at the large hem. Dresses were made to be worn for a long time and it would have been a rare mother who didn't get out needle and thread to let hems down.

Are the clothes kids wear now-a-days, really any different to clothes worn by their parents or grandparents in years gone by? Just what did the best dressed babies and toddlers wear in the 1950s and 1960s? ~ Threading My Way

And once I outgrew my clothes, they were handed down to Little Sis. I'm not sure if she's wearing my old one in the photo above, or whether it's the same style with different fabric.

A couple of years ago I wrote a post on pleated tartan skirts, showing mine from the early 60s and two modern day pleated skirts.

I'm sure that little green jacket could pass for one of today.


The most embarrassing photo I've left till last, just to give you a laugh. Perhaps Santa was making me nervous. You'd think they would have taken another photo. 

I think it might be the same dress as the 7th from the top, but worn with a different bonnet and a bow underneath. 

My sister and I were very lucky that our Aunty was a dressmaker. All our clothes were handmade, with Mum doing the day to day and our Aunty making the designer ones. She almost certainly drafted her own patterns.

There are so many similarities between our dresses and modern day toddler and young girls' dresses. In general, our dresses were shorter. If they were lengthened, I think they'd pass for dresses of today.

I think one of the big differences, is that today, most of the garments pictured would be good dresses for special occasions, not for causal and everyday wear. We seemed to wear our beautiful dresses to places where now-a-days it would be jeans, shorts or stretch knit clothing.

And that's another big difference - we didn't own stretch knit clothing. It was all woven fabrics.  

I do have a few photos of us in shorts and even fewer in pants, but I'll save those for another post.

What do you think? What differences and similarities can you see between our clothes and those worn by kids today?

... Pam

13 comments:

  1. I had a dress very similar to the blue gingham one you had on. We must be close to the same age, but of course I grew up in America. LOL

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  2. I see lots of those styles today! The flutter sleeves are really popular now...I remember those in the 80's. Cute, cute pics!

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  3. I loved looking through the photos - I think a lot of little girls dresses I see today were inspired by classical style, which I love. Was stretchy fabric used in the 50-60's?

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  4. Well, like you, I mainly wore dresses when I was young. And like you, someone in the family was the dressmaker: Mom. I daresay most little girls today are not wearing dresses unless it is for some particularly special occasion. (I think my first pair of pants may have been snow pants.) Speaking of snow, that Santa looks just a bit scary to me... just sayin'!

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  5. Those are very special, beautiful photos, Pam!
    I see classic styles are really timeless! Those are some sweet dresses!
    But that car seat...yeah, scary ;o But I guess people were not driving fast and crazy like today?

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  6. Great trip down memory lane Pam, those bowl haircuts are a scream! My mother was a great one for cutting my fringe herself and I still have nightmares about the result :)

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  7. Enjoyed seeing all the lot hrs you and your sister wore , having been born in the 50's , I recognize some of these styles . My mom made most of our clothes and like you our clothes got passed down . I have two sisters so lots of sharing going on . I still love ther look of a little girl with a dress , ankle socks and shoes 😊 Thanks for sharing your photos , sure enjoyed them .

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  8. Enjoyed seeing all the lot hrs you and your sister wore , having been born in the 50's , I recognize some of these styles . My mom made most of our clothes and like you our clothes got passed down . I have two sisters so lots of sharing going on . I still love ther look of a little girl with a dress , ankle socks and shoes 😊 Thanks for sharing your photos , sure enjoyed them .

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed the post, Sheila. I enjoyed reminiscing looking through old photos.

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  9. Everything old is new again! :) OMG the picture of you with Santa - I'm LMHO!

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  10. I'd say fashion tends to repeat itself. Designers often look to the past to create their actual designs, so obviously we will see features we did in our own clothes or our parents and grandparents, etc.

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  11. Lovely post again, what gorgeous photos you have of your sister and you together. There are definitely lots of similarities, and I love the pinafores especially, but the thing that strikes me the most is the lack of trousers. My girls love leggings, trousers, jeans - though often teamed with a pretty, tunic style top. I know I didn't wear many trousers when I was young either, but it definitely feels like a change for the better that girls now do.

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  12. I too love the look of this era. However. It is interesting how girls transitioned into pants but boys are still not allowed to wear skirts and dresses. An odd dichotomy to me. Society still sees girls on a rung lower than boys and therefore a boy cannot be brought down the ladder by wearing anything remotely associated with a female. A ridiculous idea when you think about it. Step up the ladder guys! Just don;t let the girl's look up your dress! LOL

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