The debut of Christian Dior’s well-known New Look collection in 1947 marked the beginning of modern fashion history as we know it. With frame-fitting designs, ladylike accessories, and opulent details taking the forefront, the 1950s gave birth to a new approach to glamour. Entering the decade with elegance and sophistication, women were gravitating toward shape-defining silhouettes like billowing tea and poodle skirts–and experimenting with trousers in the process. Though everyone is looking to the later decades for style inspiration, it was the ’50s that led to some of fashion’s most memorable designs.
If you look back at the fashion from that era, it’s clear that women were choosing a dressier, more polished take. From the impeccable tailored skirt suits, opera gloves, and all the many hats, people from the 1950s were always sure to add a little extra something to their looks to truly take them to the next level. A prime example, iconic Black singer Dorothy Dandridge is remembered for her mermaid-style gowns and glitzy embellishments. On the other end of the spectrum, style muses like American costume designer Edith Head presented a more minimal approach, accented with strings of large pearls and round-frame glasses fitted with slightly tinted lenses. Regardless of your own personal style, there’s a decade’s worth of good inspo to choose from.
Ahead is a curation of photos from the 1950s that showcase the ostentatious style of the times. From fashion models, singers, actors, and everyone in between, this list has a little bit of everything.