Spring Fashions 1950 – New Gamine Silhouette

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Model Dorien Leigh’s guide to the glamorous 1950s –


These photos taken by Life photographer Gjon Mili in March 1950, encompass all the important styles of 1950 and the girl on whom all the clothes are shown is Dorian Leigh, the top New York model since 1944 who has gone through the broad-shouldered era, the corseted new Look, and even .. shudder,  the threatened return to the shapeless 1920’s.


Dorian starts with an outfit that embodies the highest style and line points this season. Its toothpick slim sheath gray flannel dress with 16 inch hemline ( left) and top-heavy jackey with chopped off sleeves and big cuffs ( right) worn over it – are being copied in all price ranges. This is the most extreme outline in a spring fashion season that sees some interesting modifications but few radical changes.

Checks and Shirtwaists


The big comeback this year are checks and shirtwaists. The checks now include large bold designs. The shirt waist taken over to Paris by Dior and Fath, has some definite French accents, mosts noticeable in in softening full sleeves and bloused tops.

In street wear it is a monochromatic spring, mostly black, some blue or gray, with splashes of white in gloves, hats, flowers, umbrellas ( as in our featured photo of Dorien above).


Shoes are patent leathers and in shiniest black, made in non-split plastics, which are also used for matching bags, belts, umbrella covers.

All the styles you see will be available in lower priced lines, so get your purse ready girls !


AFTERNOON SHIRT – one piece black and white striped dress with box pleats. wide belt ( Jacques Fath – Joseph Halbert $135). EVENING SHIRT – in crisply tailored organdy goes with print skirt for informal parties ( Ceil Chapman, $70)


ABOVE THE WRIST goes the sleeve of this softly tailored checked suit of menswear worsted ( Adele Simpson, $125). Three-quarter length, it is considered long as spring sleeves go. Gauntlets cover the bare parts of the lower arm


ABOVE THE ELBOW goes the sleeve, the semi-cape of this classic flannel dress-like coat ( Pauline Trigere,$235). Halfway length glove leaves the mid-arm bare. The outfit can be worn in cooler weather as a coat over a dress.


OVER THE SHOULDER and gone is the sleeve in this sheath ( Brigance, $75). In early spring it is worn with a matching jacket. Later, without jacket but with wrist length gloves, bare arm dress will be fashionable this summer !

Woman’s Gestures Change

The new crop of clothes and accessories brings with it a new set of womanly gestures. The lady wearing the bellowing boa, will be continually fluffing it out and adjusting the belt that anchors it ( below).
Her hands will be reaching up to keep the pillbox hat sitting squarely on her head – when they aren’t reaching up to smooth hair, which she is letting grow in back to balance the new narrow silhouette, conscious of her new heavy eye make-up which is the rage since January! ( Read our earlier post on the French Doe-eyed make-up look which has taken the world by storm!)


ANCHORING SASH of an organdy boa around her waist is a preliminary to fluffing its folds through the neckline of this little tweed suit ( Hattie Carnegie, $250). This silhouette is becoming a fashion institution

Indeed, Dorien claims she has to bat her eyes frequently, which adds a feminine flush!

Along With Her Clothes


SMOOTHING LOCKS in place is constant gesture as back hair grows out. Deep back of slim sheath dress by Dior ( $135)

Wearing patent shoes or carrying a patent bag, she will flick nervously at the slight specks of dust that mar their shiny surfaces.


MINCING up a step in tight skirt show more leg than has been seen in several seasons. Stripped patent sandals ( Evins,$32.95), worn with pale seamed stockings in new heel-less nylon ( Modeltex), are new for street in place of opera pumps

Her short tight skirt keeps her mincing along in little steps. the skirts, of course, show off her long legs, but they also mean an incessant reaching down and back again to straighten her stocking seams. It’s going to be hard work to be fashionable this season.

One Last Dress to Wear


FASHION TOURS END finds Dorien Leigh in a strapless, white dance dress ( Norman Norell,$250) that combines pique and patent. It has separate cuffs that slide up the arm.

Even to a popular model like Dorien Leigh, who manages to sample most new fashions, the tour through these styles gave her a quick glimpse into the near future. Weary at the end, Dorien still got a life out of this dress, for a white evening gown, as every girl knows, is a sure fire way of turning heads.

 Photos by Gjon Mili

Originally published – Life magazine – March 1950

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