Vintage style continues to be at the forefront of fashion, and with curve-loving brands such as Hell Bunny and Lady Voluptuous producing stunning 1950s inspired statement dresses; it’s not hard to see why!
The ‘50s was filled with curvy screen icons (think Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor), sophisticated classic cars (hello Cadillac Eldorado!), and rockabilly music (Elvis – enough said). It was an era that exuded fun and symbolised a time of change. As Geraldine Straker, from the Beamish Festival of the 50s, explains, “For many people who remember the 50s it’s largely a time of fond memories, despite hardships following the war, it’s a time of hard work but also fun, family and neighbourhood. For those who were children and young adults in the decade it’s a time of playing in the street, going for miles with your friends, courting in the pictures, and when music, dance and fashion changed.”
I spoke to several vintage-loving ladies to find out why they love the fifties so much and how UK events and festivals are keeping us all involved. Here’s who they are and what they had to say:
Hayley Stewart is a vintage-loving and award-winning blogger at www.curvesandcurl.co.uk.
Colette Weathersby is one of the founders of the Atomic Festival, a “thrill a minute” weekend dedicated to all things 1950s.
Tanya Brannan is a 40-something mother of twins and fashion blogger at www.secretplussizegoddess.com.
Geraldine Straker works as the Remaking Beamish Project Officer at Beamish, the living museum of the North.
Sarah Dunn is the marketeer behind Twinwood Festival, a 1950s inspired event that is held every August bank holiday.
FASHION & STYLE
COLETTE: “1950s styling feels wonderful to wear, it’s bright and colourful and is designed to highlight and embrace the female figure, so it is incredibly flattering to all. Wearing a 1950s dress gives any event a real sense of occasion, it feels fantastic either with a swishy full skirt or a slinky straight, glamorous style.”
HAYLEY: “Pinups celebrates shapeliness – actively encouraging and accentuating curves. And I started to love the parts of me that I’d spent so much time hiding. Because they filled out a swing dress so beautifully, because I was pleased to have a bit of cheeky cleavage poking out from a cardigan, because why not! Having spent a lot of time hiding in shift dresses, or spending winters in jeans and jumpers it felt wonderful to see and celebrate my shape.”
SARAH: “It’s relatively easy to incorporate elements of the 1950s into an outfit, items like bright sundresses, rolled up jeans, hair flowers and bandanas, all effortlessly add a little retro glamour to any look.”
MUSIC & DANCE
COLETTE: “Rock’n’roll music is wonderful to dance to and once you try it, you will get ‘bitten by the bug’ and not want to stop. Jive dancing is energetic and upbeat, a partner dance that you share with others in an atmosphere of fun.”
GERALDINE: “For those who were children and young adults in the decade it’s a time of playing in the street, going for miles with your friends, courting in the pictures, and when music, dance and fashion change. It’s this aspect in particular, the weekly dances, the records on Dansettes and the fabulous fashions, whether homemade or bought, that has really captured the imagination of younger generations.”
TANYA: “There has been a resurgence in dance classes and as well as keeping you fit, they are fun! Jive, Lindyhop, shim-sham and even the collegiate shag are being taught and people are turning up in their droves. The music is even making a comeback with acts such as post modern jukebox and Caro Emerald hitting the airwaves and selling out concerts.”
50s CURVE APPEAL
HAYLEY: “I think one of the reasons plus size women may so enjoy pinup style dressing it because it’s about standing out. It’s about enjoying dressing up. Turning getting dressed into an art. And when you’ve perhaps been at war with your body for as long as many plus size women have there’s something special about taking time with your appearance. About enjoying dressing yourself and adorning yourself which I think can heal so many confidence wounds. About saying you are worthy of these attentions. That your body deserves to be celebrated and enjoyed.”
TANYA: “I was desperate to have nice flattering clothes that fitted. And nothing fits as well as vintage style clothes. They are designed to flatter the female shape, whether hourglass, Apple or pear. They slim and skim the silhouette hiding lumps and bumps with their full skirts. Vintage clothing has become popular with the plus size woman because it fits, flatters and makes you feel female.”
COLETTTE: “Atomic Festival customers enjoy immersing themselves in a ‘bubble’ of 1950s themed action and fun. There are so many things to see and activities to experience… It’s a wonderful chance to escape everyday life and dip into the glamour of the golden era.” (The Atomical Festival is held in Northants over 2 days in summer on the 19th & 20th August.)
GERALDINE: “The Festival of 50s was originally set up at Beamish Museum as an end of project celebration that had looked at life in industrial towns in the North East during the decade. The Festival has since grown to become an annual fixture in the Beamish event’s calendar, now looking forward to the creation of a 50s town at the museum. It’s a lively event with exhibitions, activities, live music and dance.” (Every year the museum holds a Festival of the 50s and this year it runs from the 6th-9th July 2017.)
SARAH: “Twinwood Festival was set up to celebrate the music, dancing and style of the past and the festival brings you four packed days of live music from the best retro acts around plus dance lessons, shopping, classic cars, museums and more making it the perfect place to wear you best vintage look!” (The Twinwood Festival is held every August bank holiday at the historic RAF Twinwood Farm Airfield in Bedfordshire.)