Life in the 1950s

Jasmin Bollman

Posted on April 29 2014

If you obsess over everything to do with the 1950's (the hair! the clothes! the movies!), then you may sometimes find yourself wishing that you could be transported back to that era. Even if just for a day, what would it be like to experience life in America during this transformative decade? Well, buckle up, Daddy-O, because we're about to carry you back to the age of sock hops and poodle skirts, Shabby Apple style. 

Even though the show itself didn't start until 1974, Happy Days depicted life in the 50's as, well, happy. Teenagers would spend their days (when they weren't playing hooky from school) at the local malt shop, spinning records on the jukebox and sharing a Coke with the boy or girl they hoped to go steady with. When a boy gave you his letterman jacket, it was officially official. The 1950's ushered in the boom of the suburbs, where everything was glossed over with a rosy hue. Of course, we know now that it certainly was not true (a quick fast-forward to the 1960's shows what "domestic bliss" meant for many a housewife - just ask Betty Draper). Regardless, portraits of happily domesticated couples were being beamed into these suburban living rooms every week on gigantic black and white tube televisions, thanks to Lucy and Desi in particular. 

Those televisions also helped to expose teenagers (and horrified parents) to a variety of musical acts courtesy of The Ed Sullivan Show. While The Beatles wouldn't grace airwaves until 1964, the sea change in the musical landscape was just starting to take shape in the 50's. Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Johnny Cash, The Everly Brothers and Frank Sinatra were all getting hips moving in the 1950's. And where would one dance to these tunes? Why, at their school's sock hop, of course - so named because students were required to remove their shoes and dance in their socks to prevent scuffing up the floor of the gymnasium or cafeteria.

One of my favourite aspects of 1950's life is the drive-in movie theatre. While they are a dying breed these days, the idea of being able to relax in your own vehicle while checking out the latest flick from Marilyn Monroe or Audrey Hepburn seems like a unique delight. And those "Let's All Go to the Lobby" ads they played before the film or during the intermission? I mean, come on. Those are amazing.

Food in the 50's was a mixed bag. The first McDonald's restaurant opened its doors in 1955, helping to make burgers and fries synonymous with Americana. Malts (milkshakes), Coke and floats were all immensely popular, and so was - gulp - Spam. The precooked and processed meat-in-a-can was a staple of many a post-war kitchen. Speaking of those kitchens, so many of them were decked out with colourful appliances, ranging from bright pink to a more subdued yellow. Nowadays, when I see a vintage appliance like this, I squeal with nostalgic delight at an era that I never had the opportunity to experience. 

Finally, you can't look back at the 1950's without discussing the fashion. Conservative dress was the name of the game in this decade, but impeccable tailoring was a must. From pencil skirts to peddle pusher trousers, from flower pot hats to jackets with Peter Pan-style collars, having great style was important to many young women. Shabby Apple's Real Beaut! Dress from the Aussie Afternoon Collection is the perfect way to realize your 50's-style dreams: flawless tailoring, elbow length sleeves and a hem that hits at the knee. Now all you have to do is rock a wicked pair of cat eyes glasses and you'll be made in the shade. 

Photo Credits:

Family watching TV: Digital TV Europe (

Suburban Couple: (

Sock Hop: Retronaut (

Drive-In: Collegian (

50s Kitchen: Naturally Green Cooking (

- See more at:

More Posts


Leave a comment