After the rationing of the World War II, consumer goods and materials were in abundance and the fashions of the 1950s reflect the new mood of excess in designs using lots of fabric and embellishment. For women, the hourglass silhouette became the standard shape.

The mood of fashion in the post-war era was inspired by Christian Dior's "New Look" as it debuted in 1947. It featured billowing, wide skirts with rounded shoulders and a bustline balanced by a narrow, defined waist. Blouses and long, narrow skirts were also popular, often as part of a suit with a tailored jacket. Draping and pleating were common design elements and skirts were cut below the knee.

Men's designs changed very little during the decade, featuring a loosely cut jacket and pants as the standard business attire. Work clothing for laborers often resembled military uniforms. Jeans began to become more popular as items of casual wear, partly driven by the emergence of teenage popular culture.

The overall mode of dress was more formal in the 1950s than in the 21st century. It was common for people to dress formally while in public and save informal wear only for at home or with the closest of friends. Toward the end of the decade, fashions began to change as society's mores began to evolve. Pants became common wear for women and more tapered designs became popular.