Vintage Polka Dot Dress and Hair Wraps | 50’s Fashion

There was a time when I wanted my entire wardrobe to be vintage. At that stage of my life I was a stalwart 40’s – 50’s fashion advocate and I frowned upon any later period fashion. Note that I was quite young and impressionable.

I’ve grown out of that impractical stage, obviously, and come to appreciate aspects of fashion from all other periods. But to come back to my “first love”, today I want to share with you an excellent example of early 50’s, late 40’s women’s dress.

Polka Dot Dress

In the film The Jackpot (1950), James Stewart and Barbara Hale play a married couple by the name of Lawrence. At one point there is a polka dot dress that causes a minor stir. Having bought too many for the department store where he works, Bill Lawrence buys one for his wife, Amy (she has a great name, doesn’t she?), and tells his fellow employees to do likewise. Later at a party, a fellow employee’s wife finds she and Amy are wearing the same kind of dress and is mortified.

Thankfully, the situation is diffused when Bill tells the group that they have been selected as contestants in a radio program, Guess the Mystery Husband, that is about to air.

The polka dot dress in question is so typical of the 40’s and 50’s with its broad shoulders and wide lapels, in addition to the aforementioned pattern. Amy’s style is simple while her friend wears pearls with hers.

The material for the dress is lightweight, most likely cotton, with a stiffer material used for the lapels and pockets. Where the sleeves and upper bodice are loose, the waist is fitted before evolving into an A-line skirt that reaches just below the knee. A beautiful dress worthy of reconstruction.

But naturally, I noticed some other pieces I want to point out.


The housewives of the golden era are characterized by their aprons and high heels. I envy the day-to-day beauty of this simple style. I can’t say that I would like to clean the house in heels and a dress, but I think I would hold my head higher if I did.

Aprons in general have lost their usefulness in this day and age, partially because of peoples lack of cooking skills. Either way, I think they need to come back. I would love a vintage apron to work around the kitchen in!

Amy’s aprons in both of these pictures are full length whereas later she wears a half apron. The first is a plaid– colored stripes on white. The second one is patterned, most likely floral with a darker edging. I recently found many patterns available for vintage aprons and other vintage pieces at the I have yet to explore the wealth of information on this site, but I am greatly impressed by what I have seen so far.


I can never go on enough about vintage hair. It’s curly, it’s cute, and I just love it. But, I have always worn my hair long so that I can’t do this hairstyle. Regrettable. Seeing the back of the head helps a person see better how the hair was done. Barbara Hale wears her hair short and parted on the side. No doubt she slept in curlers to attain this effect. Curl perfection.

Here she has her hair up in a wrap while washing dishes and doing other housework. This style is often reconstructed by vintage costumers since its popularity for practical use in the war era. It’s been called a hair scarf, wrap, vintage bow, square scarf, bandana, and much else.

Although I have no specific object to point out in this picture, I couldn’t help adding it. This picture encompasses the vintage housewife. Notice the flouncy curtains on the open windows. She stands at the sink washing dishes, her hair done as if she were going to the store, wearing a lovely housecoat that would pass as a dress now days. A picture of femininity and strength.

I hope you have enjoyed this look at the past. I’m always finding new styles from various eras to point out so be sure to come back soon!

Meanwhile, be sure to let me know what you thought about the post in the comments below!

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