For two articles and a conference presentation, I researched the impact that the 1950s media had on women’s fashion choices. Specifically, how the iconic shirtwaist dress developed into the embodiment of 1950s motherhood and domesticity.
Period movies and television shows depict the housewife of the 1950s in the uniform of her profession: a shirtwaist dress. In the 1950s, magazines, television, books, and films all had varying degrees of influence over women’s fashion choices. Magazines, however, had a more significant role at the inception of the 1950s shirtwaist style just after World War II. David Halberstam explains that “women turned to magazines to learn how to adapt to their new roles in the land of plenty.” (The History Channel, David Halberstam's The Fifties , 1997)
Good Housekeeping was a practical lifestyle magazine that influenced the fashion decisions of women, and provides information on how the 1950s shirtwaist was sold to them. Tracing the path of the shirtwaist—from its established pre-war form, to its 1947 revision by Haute Couture designer Christian Dior, to its gradual appearance in this new form in Good Housekeeping—shows how it began its development as an icon. Exploring the representations of the dress will show the solidification of its iconic status.
Icon: Tracing the path of the 1950s Shirtwaist Dress.” Journal of American Culture, Special Fashion Issue. March, 2009.
Icon: Tracing the path of the 1950s Shirtwaist Dress.” Clothesline: The Online Journal of Costume and Dress Elizabeth Walton (Ed.), July 2005.
Icon: Tracing the path of the 1950s Shirtwaist Dress. Popular Culture & American Culture Ass. National Conference in San Francisco, CA, March 2008.