The 1950s Housewife at the Office

Vintage fashion is something of a trend right now, with victory rolls and hair scarves popping up at your local farmers market or concert venue, paired with fitted waists, flared skirts, and capped sleeves to make any 1950s housewife envious.

While there are wonderful events where you can go full-on vintage (here in Boston we just held a 1920s lawn party!), for the majority of us a good 5+ days a week are structured around office wear and business casual. The cost of a good vintage dress, even a bargain, can be hard to justify when it’s delegated to weekend-only wear.

But as both a lover of vintage style and a Monday-Friday office worker, I’ve been experimenting with bringing the 1950s into the 2010s! Following a few simple rules can help you find your new ‘old’ style and enjoy it most every day without breaking your dress code.

Step one: Outline the actual rules of the road at your workplace.

For some strictly business environments, the requirements may involve heels, dark and neutral colors, skirts or non-jean pants, or even business formal. Luckily, the 1950s weren’t just for housewives – ladies entered the workforce and had style aplenty. Wool suits, pencil skirts, peter pan collars and sensible heels all lent themselves to a more industrious age of office wear than in decades earlier.



Kyana over at Roselein Rarities features pieces from nearly every decade, but these skirt suits are perfect for even the most strict dress codes. Paired with a simple gold necklace and low heels, they’re sleek and feminine (and perfect for the chilly autumn weather).


1950s Skirt and Top Set1950s Skirt and Top Set from Small Earth Vintage

Karen at Small Earth Vintage showcases hundreds of gorgeous vintage pieces, but this suit caught my eye and it is ready to wear and incredibly versatile. The high neckline would look fabulous with a short haircut or high wrapped bun, and paired with velvet heels or boots it’s ready for holiday style!

Step two: Gather your accessories.

The best way to bring vintage into the everyday is to blend it with modern pieces. Vintage heels go great with skinny jeans, but paired with a vintage skirt they can be a bit too of-the-decade for the workplace. Subsequently, I like to pair my vintage dresses with modern flats or boots, or top with a modern short jacket.



This white jacket from TrendsGal is the perfect addition to a wardrobe because it’s so versatile – it can be paired with jeans or a pencil skirt, on top of a maxi dress, or (in our case!) a vintage dress. The best part about topping a vintage dress with a jacket is that suddenly sleeve length isn’t an issue. No spaghetti straps in the workplace? No problem!


Step three: Find the dresses to accessorize!



Ready for fall, this lovely knee-length number from Small Earth Vintage would look fabulous topped with a dark green or black jacket and black ballet flats. The colors are subdued but the cut is definitely 1950s chic!




Perhaps a bit glamorous and bold for a normal work day, these dresses are perfect for any occasional when topped with a knit wrap or black jacket. Found over at 86 Vintage, where you can find any piece for your vintage outfit among the pages of accessories and jackets!



The easiest way to bring vintage into the office is to find a piece that stands entirely on its own. Subtle, with a warm blue and flattering button-top neckline, this 50s dress from Mary Beth Hale is work appropriate, unique, and fun. With almost no work it’s ready to wear, and is sure to receive compliments. Everything comes back in style, and the 1950s dress is no exception!


So show off your swinging side, and give a touch of vintage to your wardrobe! The office never looked so good!
Written by: La Roux Vintage
Erika is the owner of La Roux Vintage. When not out scouring the greater Boston area for vintage home decor, she can be found running, painting, teaching herself to play the accordion and drinking copious amounts of coffee.
Written by: La Roux Vintage on FacebookWritten by: La Roux Vintage on InstagramWritten by: La Roux Vintage on Tumblr

About Written by: La Roux Vintage

Erika is the owner of La Roux Vintage. When not out scouring the greater Boston area for vintage home decor, she can be found running, painting, teaching herself to play the accordion and drinking copious amounts of coffee.

14 Replies to “The 1950s Housewife at the Office”

  1. When I worked in an office, I wore 1940s suits and 1950s dresses all the time. I worked in publishing, which perhaps has a looser dress code than other types of workplace. But I think no matter what kind of office you are in, classic pieces like that 1950s suit from Roselein Rarities or Mary Beth Hale’s shirtwaist dress never look dated.

    Your tips on mixing vintage with modern are spot on. I love vintage and wear it all the time, but don’t want to look like I’m wearing a costume. I think fashion is always most interesting when people aren’t afraid to mix things up and be as eclectic as their comfort levels allow.

    Great piece, Erika! And thank you for the feature.

  2. I love it. When I was a full time office worker in the 80s, 90s and even early 2000s I wore lots of vintage suits and jewelry. I am short so unfortunately had to have them tailored for me. I still have those beauties and hate the though of parting with them even though I no longer wear them.
    Fabulous Write Up! Thank you

  3. Mid-century America displayed a decadent “New-Look” fashion trends that coincided with gender-role shifts and is always interesting, especially when compared to other social changes in art, music, culture, and politics. Lucky us in this day and age to have the access to such wonderfully timeless, authentic pieces that carry so much of this made-in-the-USA history! A collection worth treasuring, without a doubt!