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Women’s fashions in the 1950s

Shop sign 'All Dress Accessories'
Shop sign 'All Dress Accessories' about 1950, Maker unknown, New Zealand. Gift of an anonymous donor, 2003. Te Papa

Women's fashions in New Zealand became more feminine from the late 1940s, giving women a new sense of glamour. The new fashions were partly a reaction to the austerity and rationing of the war years. They were also influenced by the 'New Look' range of French fashion designer Christian Dior.

Growing prosperity after World War II gave people more money to spend on smart clothes. The social etiquette of the time insisted that a woman never go out without a hat and gloves. Women wore certain items and accessories for different activities and at different times of day. Great distinctions were drawn between casual and formal wear, with weddings requiring sumptuous gowns made for the wedding day alone.



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