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How Rock N Roll and Pop Culture (in general) Changed

Fashion Pt.I The 50’s.


I think it’s safe to say that one type of artistic movement influences another. This is very
true in the case of fashion and rock music. Two very powerful forces that somehow
manage to peacefully coincide. How, you ask? Well, to me, it seems that rock music and
fashion are (at their most basic) about the art of the craft---the drama. It’s about pushing
the envelope and making people talk.

I think to really understand the link between the two, you must allow me to take you on
an in-depth exploration of the history of the two, starting waaay back in the 50’s, when
rock first shook the world……

Overview Of The 50’s

Ah, the 50’s! A time I emulate in my manner of dress frequently, but in my mannerisms
never. It was a time (culturally) when American’s were scared shitless of the Comunist
threat and it was God, Mom and Apple Pie all the way! These were a time of conservative
values and moral relativism that would make your local televangelist look like no threat
to your way of life at all.

And with the advent of the microwave, the highway, and central marketing areas (malls)
the 50’s also lead to America’s epidemic ADD percentages that you may experience
yourself from time to time.

Music was mainly gospel and soul. Rock N Roll blended these two things and added to it
a strong back beat and a new fangled thing called an “electric guitar”. “Officials” (of
what could be up to debate) deem it immoral and madness in sues.

Fashion wise, the 50’s were about keeping up the moral theme and covering um….
everything. Skirts very rarely came up past the knee and neck lines never plunged. The
only good thing in my opinion to come out of the fashion movement of the 50’s was the
really bitchin’ cinched waists. (Take notes, girls: Nothing shows off a rockin’ hourglass
figure like a pinched in waist. NOTHING.) French designers such as Doir, Chanel, and
Givenchy either copied or were inspired by the look and used it on their runways.

1951

Let us start now with Mr. Dean Martin. *swoons* In 1951 radio stations across the
country banned Dean Martin’s “Wham, Bam, Thank you Ma’am” because the song was
“suggestive”….um…duh!

In 1951, America was just coming off the heels of one of the more depressing times in
American fashion with nylon hose scarce and military inspired square shoulders (sure, it
makes for an interesting silhouette, until you remember that your husband/beaux/lover
may be dead on a battleground somewhere….not good times.) American fashion was
beginning to mirror rock and soul music. The music of that time was just beginning to
take a rebellious attitude towards the sexual repression that was so prevalent throughout
most of America’s history, as was fashion. The hem lines may have been low on the legs,
but dresses had built in shape ware to hint at “Dangerous curves head!”

1955

Officials in San Diego and Florida police warn Elvis Presley that if he moves at all
during his local performances, he will be arrested on obscenity charges. (Making Elvis
The Pelvis stand still is really the true crime in this scenario!)

This rebellious attitude continues through out most of the mid-to-late 50’s exemplified by
the now legendary “Sweater Girl”. This is about the time when the “bullet bra” was
popular, and girls who didn’t want to be seen as the wholesome girl next door would
wear the tight cashmere sweater that emphasized the chest.