Get the Mad Men look.

One of the most iconic decades of the 20th century, the fifties is an era we are familiar with and adore. From Grease to Back to the Future, there is one thing we remember and love. The iconic full circle skirt, perfect for flattering curves and spinning on the dance floor.

The classic fifties prom dress has never gone out of style and exploded back onto the high street recently when designers were all influenced by popular American drama Mad Men. Although set in the early sixties, the iconic fifties style lingers on to play an integral part to the show.

Following the conclusion of the Second World War, there was a feeling of hope and optimism around the world as countries began to rebuild themselves. The British government promised to ‘Make Britain Great Again’ and rationing finally ceased in 1954.

In ‘Vintage Fashion: collecting and wearing designer classics’, Emma Baxter-Wright describes the need for women to feel glamorous again. “After years of hardship and drudgery, when women had worn sexless, utilitarian work garments (and when there were fewer men around to impress), there was an understandable desire to dress up in luxurious feminine clothes.”

The hourglass figure, was the silhouette of the decade. With dresses that nipped in the waist, and pushed up breasts, with a flowing calf length full circle skirt. It would become the look associated with the decade forever more.

In 1957, Givenchy started the trend for shift dresses that had no waist at all, by inventing the Sack dress. Women were freed from the restrictive clothing they had become used to, and it was a shape that went onto mass popularity in the sixties.

Suits: Hourglass figures

Good for: Full circle skirts, prom dresses, scarves, blouses

Invest in: A full circle skirt prom dress

Who wears it well: Christina Hendricks, Kelly Brook, Kelly Osbourne, Scarlett Johannson



40s Women

With the outbreak of war, came shortages of everything and major changes to civilian life. Materials like silk and wool were needed for the war effort, and many clothes in the 1940s were made from manmade fabrics such as rayon and synthetic jersey. By 1941, clothing rationing came in and the government utility scheme forbade the use of trimmings and certain materials as fashion become subject to government decree.

With men fighting in the war, the female role changed and women were directed into war work. Fashion took on a conservative and military style as women wore utilitarian clothes with stiff tailoring and uniformity. Female curves were hidden once again, as the nipped in waist and narrow skirts produced a slim shape. Ladies utility suits were often refashioned from the existing male suit.

As women got used to wearing trousers at work, slacks and pioneer pants became popular as well as the military inspired trench coat. To dress up eveningwear, women made use of sequins and beads, which were not rationed by the war and covered up with the Bolero jacket. The British public were encouraged to Make, Mend and Do to restore and update clothes.

Tea dresses were also a popular clothing choice, which we regularly associate with the 40s. The tea dress is a style that is most reproduced in vintage inspired high street lines. They made use of prints and patterns and gave women colour and originality during a period of drab wartime clothing.

Wearing patriotic colours of red, white and blue became popular in both Britain and America, with names such as air-force blue, army tan, flag red and cadet blue making the wearer feel they were helping the war effort. Red was often used to dress up the drab blues, browns, greens and black that became the uniform of the decade.

With the end of the war in 1945, rationing carried on, but a feeling of hope across the world encouraged the public, as they rebuilt their towns and cities…

Suits: Most shapes, boyish and hourglass.

Good for: Tea dresses, pioneer pants, bolero jackets, utilitarian suits

Invest in: A patterned tea dress

Who wears it well: Dita Von Teese, Christina Aguilera, Paloma Faith, Katy Perry



30s Women

Coming between two world wars and the stock market crash of 1929, the thirties was a tough time. Clothes had to become more affordable and made with cheaper fabrics.

Sky Atlantic’s new imported drama Mildred Peirce starring Kate Winslet, is set in Depression-era California, following a single mother’s journey to support her family and gain the respect of her daughter. The show combines the glamour and hardship of the 1930s in its costumes, represented by it’s upper-class and working class characters.

Designers began to focus on the female form rather than embellishment, and clothes were cut to follow the lines of the body, showing off the female figure in a more provocative way than ever before.

Young women idolised the Hollywood superstars that graced the silver screen, and dreamed of wearing the halter-neck and backless designer dresses they wore on screen. Instead they compensated with costume jewellery and accessories to add an air of glamour to their outfits, at a cheaper price.

Perhaps the most iconic films of the decade starred Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire in their many dance-based films. They projected an air of glamour and high life, that many could only dream of during the depression. Citizens flocked to the cinema to for the escapism they provided.

Fur became popular among women and was worn day and night, becoming popular luxury items, using pelts of ermine, fox, mink and chinchilla for coats, capes and wraps.

As women lead busier and more productive lives, daywear reflected this, and clothes became less restrictive. Designers embraced the hourglass silhouette, and returned waistlines to the natural waist, sometimes higher.

Detailed blouses became popular, with scalloped edges and ruffled collars, but the real success story was the pussy-bow neckline, which added an air of elegance to more practical daywear.

Coco Chanel believed that comfort was key to her designs, and the wool jersey suit became one of her most famous innovations, still iconic today. She wanted to free women for corsets and introduce them to a freer, more casual elegance.

But with the end of the 1930s, came the start of the Second World War and with that came change…

Suits: Hour glass and pear shape figures

Good for: Fur, detailed blouses, wool jersey suits, backless gowns

Invest in: A fur jacket

Who wears it well: Kate Winslet, Gwen Stefani, Amy Adams, Rachel Evan Wood



1920s Flappers

With the post-war booming twenties, came the age of the flapper. Hemlines rose to a scandalous four to five inches above the ankle and waistlines dropped to the hip. The twenties has become a popular decade for vintage inspiration once again, with Sky Atlantic’s Boardwalk Empire. The American drama follows Atlantic City in New Jersey during the age of prohibition, where illegal alcohol smuggling and organised crime was rife.

The flapper look is seen frequently during the show in the women’s costumes. This look that we associate with the 1920s, was about achieving a boyish shape. Women taped down their breasts to get rid of unwanted curves and the desired silhouette was straight up and down. For the first time, women dieted to fit fashion.

In Vintage Fashion: collecting and wearing designer classics, Emma Baxter-Wright says “The short shift dress, which fell straight down from the shoulders and stopped above the knees, dominated the mid-to late 1920s. Ornamented with geometric and abstract designers, the chemise was often beaded with bands of glittering sequins.”

Flapper dresses were straight, loose and sleeveless, with bare arms, legs and backs. This new daring style, created an illusion of nudity and represented the reckless nature of the flappers. With flappers came swing dancing, specifically the Charleston, that took social dances by storm and has enjoyed a boom of recent popularity. At home, the flappers would wear trousers in the early evening or at the beach. They were loosely cut with drawstring or elasticated waists.

The new androgynous look became the height of style, and women cut their hair short and embraced the waif look. Glamour played a key part women’s lives, but this was set to explode as movie stars captured the imagination of the 30s woman…

Suits: Tall boyish figures, slim hips,

Good for: Embellishment, shawls, shift dresses, headwear.

Invest in: An embellished flapper dress.

Who wears it well: Kate Moss, Angelina Jolie, Katie Holmes, Taylor Swift

Make the perfect butter icing cupcakes



Make perfect cupcakes

Make the perfect butter icing cupcakes, any 50s housewife would be proud of!

You will need:

Food scales

Mixing bowls

Cupcake cases

A cupcake or muffin oven tray

A mixing spoon, whisk, electric whisk or blender

An icing bag or syringe




8oz of real butter

8oz of sugar

8oz of self-raising flour

4 large eggs

¼ of a teaspoon of baking powder.

2 teaspoons of vanilla essence.


Butter icing:

3oz of butter

8oz of icing sugar

1 teaspoon of vanilla essence

2 to 3 teaspoons of milk – add as needed.


For chocolate icing, add one tablespoon of coco powder to 1 tablespoon of hot water and mix. Cool before beating into icing.



Pre-heat oven to 190 degrees Celsius.

Cream the sugar, butter and vanilla together.

Add the eggs one at a time, mixing as you go.

Add baking powder.

Add sieved flour, a bit at a time, mixing as you go.

Continue to mix until a thick, smooth mixture is formed.

Divide into cupcake cases, within the oven tray.

Cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown. Poke with a cocktail stick, if it emerges clean, the cupcakes are done.

Leave the cupcakes to cool and begin on the icing.

Mix the butter and icing sugar together, add the vanilla and milk until smooth, thick and creamy.

If you are making chocolate icing, add the coco powder paste, and mix in completely.

When the cupcakes have cooled completely, put the icing into a icing bag or syringe and pump onto cupcakes, circling from the outside in.

Decorate with sprinkles of your choice.

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