The Finest Hours – 1950s: The Decade That Changed Modern American Fashion

film reviews | movies | features | BRWC The Finest Hours - 1950s: The Decade That Changed Modern American Fashion

In ‘The Finest Hours,’ Holliday Grainger plays the character of Miriam Webber shows off the style of the 50s. Her simple dresses with the accentuated waist and perfect hair stand out amongst the drama in the ocean.

The Finest Hours - 1950s: The Decade That Changed Modern American Fashion

The Finest Hours – 1950s: The Decade That Changed Modern American Fashion

With all of the men back from World War l and the rise of suburbia (special thanks to the automobile) the time for a fashion change was due. The stay-at-home mum lifestyle was introduced, prompting many women to want more fashionable—yet comfortable—clothes that were easily affordable. Spandex, Acrylic and polyester were introduced giving people more options for style and texture. Dresses started to accentuate women more by designers adding more trimmed in waists and vibrant colours.

The Finest Hours - 1950s: The Decade That Changed Modern American Fashion

The Finest Hours – 1950s: The Decade That Changed Modern American Fashion

Teenagers started to dress more casual than their parents, thus creating a whole new way of dressing up for younger people. Shorts, trousers and skirts became much more popular choices for women. The pencil skirt was introduced at this time, and is still a staple to women’s fashion today. Americans started to have more time for casual outings and events, like sporting. Shorts and ankle trousers entered the scene, giving women more options to mix and match with blouses. The stilettos and oxfords were brought in at this time which added more femininity to all. Matching accessories were all the rage and an outfit was usually completed with an intricate hair do.



The Finest Hours - 1950s: The Decade That Changed Modern American Fashion

The Finest Hours – 1950s: The Decade That Changed Modern American Fashion

Costume designer Louise Frogley (“Unbroken,” “Quantum of Solace”) was thrilled when first approached about the project. “The story is set in the 1950s and involves American work wear, which I am absolutely nuts about,” she says. Tasked with creating, not only the attire for the crews of both the Pendleton and the lifeboat but the everyday wardrobe for Bernie (Chris Pine), Miriam and all the townspeople of Chatham, Frogley and her team conducted extensive research into the period.

The Finest Hours - 1950s: The Decade That Changed Modern American Fashion

The Finest Hours – 1950s: The Decade That Changed Modern American Fashion

“The biggest surprise for me was to find out that Sybert and the men on the Pendleton would not have been in uniform,” says Frogley. “They wore work-oriented civilian clothing which is basically hunting, fishing and labor-intensive work apparel, and multiple layers of it, as they had to go back and forth between the freezing-cold deck and the engine room below where it was boiling hot.”

The Finest Hours - 1950s: The Decade That Changed Modern American Fashion

The Finest Hours – 1950s: The Decade That Changed Modern American Fashion

Frogley’s department manufactured six identical versions of each outfit for each of the 33 men on board the Pendleton, as they needed to dress the actors and stunt players, both wet and dry. Each outfit consisted of a shirt, pants, jacket, boots, belt and cap. The apparel was made at a factory in Los Angeles aged, and then shipped to the set in Massachusetts, where it was re-aged again.

‘The Finest Hours’ is released in UK cinemas on 19th February 2016.


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Alton loves film. He is founder and Editor In Chief of BRWC.  Some of the films he loves are Rear Window, Superman 2, The Man With The Two Brains, Clockwise, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Trading Places, Stir Crazy and Punch-Drunk Love.

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