Sunday, October 17, 2004

Fashion flashes to the '50s

The '50s inspire a more feminine look for women and a nod to the classics for men

By Marilyn Bauer
Enquirer staff writer


The young Audrey Hepburn is the epitome of '50s' style: Dewy-complexion, heavy-lashed cat eyes, pale pink lips with a bit of a smirk and an enviable ability to wear big hats.

In fact, Hepburn was the muse for Prada's newly unveiled spring collection.

This fashion season's return to midcentury, a sweeter, gentler time, includes living-large sunglasses a la Sophia Loren, swing skirts (women rarely wore pants in the '50s), pencil skirts, bolero sleeves, classic pumps and opulent evening wear.

Our 21st-century take on the look encompasses beatnik beauty with Capri pants worn with tight-fitting turtlenecks and ballet slippers.

For day and night, we're turning to Dior's historic "New Look," lady-like dressing tailored to accentuate an hourglass shape. These pieces include pencil skirts matched with short cropped jackets or buttoned-up sweaters softened with rhinestone buttons, Peter Pan collars and touches of dyed-to-match fur.

• Bella Donna
Hyde Park Square
• 2700 Erie
Hyde Park Square
• Alligator Purse
Hyde Park
• Miss Martha Dress Shop
Fort Mitchell
• Saks Fifth Avenue
• Lazarus-Macy's locations
• Dillard's locations
• Parisian
Kenwood Towne Centre
• TJMaxx locations
• Target locations

The real thing (vintage wear)
• Duck Creek Antique Mall Oakley
• Brass Armadillo Antique Mall West Chester Township
• Florence Antique Mall Florence
Much of today's interest in '50s fashion comes from women wanting to be feminine and rejecting the severe menswear look of the past, says Cynthia Amneus, associate curator of costume and textiles for the Cincinnati Art Museum.

"There is a need to go back to being feminine, not stuck in a house, but feminine looking," Amneus says. "In the '50s, clothing was fitted to the body. Dior's new look came out after the war when fabrics were no longer rationed. He used yards and yards of fabric and cinched the waist, creating a new silhouette."

In menswear this season, you'll find classic suiting in luscious fabrics and subtle-yet-dramatic tweeds. There's a return of standards - cardigans, turtlenecks, V-necks - in time-tested patterns including argyle, flat-front slacks, silk Ts worn under vintage-inspired striped dress shirts and relaxed leather jackets.

"In New York, I saw a lot of '50s' looks in the stores" for men, says Tony Tiemeyer, owner of 2700 Erie in Hyde Park. "It's cool, but borders on the nerdy, which is cute for the modern man.

A trend toward a fashion flashback "happens over and over again," Amneus says.

"It's the designers becoming nostalgic and looking for something new," she says. "The '50s trend didn't come up from the streets like fashion in the '60s and punk rock in the '70s. Fashion designers are throwing something out there. They're going back to making suits like Rock Hudson wore."


Top '50s looks

Skirts: Circle, flared, pencil, appliqued, peasant.

Cashmere: Sweaters for men and women in traditional styles and patterns.

Ivy League and Prom Queen: For day and evening. For men the look is preppy - shirts and club ties, cardigan "letter" sweaters and shirt tails out. She's pretty in pink with cinched waists, tea-length skirts and sweater sets.

Opulence: Especially for evenings.

Ankle boots: For men and women, worn with everything including suits.

Tweed suits: Worn with plaid shirts.

Classic watches such as the Cartier tank watch

Knee-length hemlines


Scarf: Everything old is new again - small squares tied at the neck instead of a necklace, vintage luxury from Hermes, Van Cleef and Arpels, or a souvenir from a summer vacation.

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