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The Fifti16 - first time widely available as casual wear as...

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The Fifties Most people owned much less clothing than we do. A young woman would likely own two blouses, one skirt, one jacket, one pair of shoes, seven changes of underwear, one nightie, a slip (look it up), and two or three pairs of hose that she'd have to make last for months. She would also have at least one hat, since it was actually a requirement at the time that women wear hats in church. She might also have a casual shirt and a pair of jeans, and likely a winter coat, gloves, and boots in a cold climate. This means that she'd have to wear her clothing at least three or four times between washings. Stockings were held up by a garter belt, and for adult women a girdle (basically a less restrictive, boning-free corset) was de rigueur ; any woman not wearing one was considered immodest at best, or at worst a closet prostitute. This continued right up until the mid 1960's. Blue denim (jeans were at this point more often called 'dungarees' or just 'Levis') was for the
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Unformatted text preview: first time widely available as casual wear, as opposed to work or prison uniforms. Levis quickly gained a rep as sexy and rebellious with teens and young adults after James Dean wore them in Rebel Without a Cause . How did these clothes get clean? Hanging washing out on the line was a cardinal sign of working-class poverty in the cities, where the air was filthy: only people too poor for their appearance to matter would hang laundry outside. The exodus to the suburbs that took place in the Fifties removed much of the stigma of hanging out laundry, since the air was clean and the clothes wouldn't be damaged by soot. Automatic washers & dryers had been around for a decade or so and were becoming steadily more popular, but were still expensive, and singles especially often sent their clothing out to a laundry service or used the local 'coin op' laundromat. Young women usually chose to wash their underwear by hand and dry it over the tub....
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