11 Fabulous Trends From the 1950s That Should Make a Cultural Comeback

Depending on the person or generation you are a part of, everyone will look at the 1950s differently. For someone who lived in the era, you may look back on the decade with fond memories of a simpler time. For those born much later, you might look at the ’50s with envy, imagining a bygone era you wish you could have been a part of. Of course, the 1950s were not perfect, and our culture has come a long way since then. However, there are sweet, fun-filled, and visually appealing aspects of this era that many would love to see a comeback for. Here are ten of the very best.

1. Sock Hops

A senior adult couple dancing Lindy Hop in a studio
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Sock Hops were dances typically held at school gymnasiums for young people in the 1950s. The name derives from the fact that the attendees removed their shoes and danced in their socks so the rubber soles wouldn’t damage the floors. These events were lively and characterized by fast-paced and upbeat music and dancing. School dances and clubs can be fun today, but it’d be nice if the wholesome vibe and dance style from sock hops would return.

2. Diners and Soda Fountains

Inside the Soda Fountain restaurant in the Canyon General Store in Yellowstone National Park.
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While 1950s-style diners are still around, they are not neatly as prevalent as they used to be. These diners have black-and-white checkerboard floors, leather-like booths, Formica tables, and neon-fluorescent lights. The aesthetics are so fun and completely distinctive. Likewise, diner food is usually hamburgers, hot dogs, fries, meatloaf, and milkshakes. And often, the servers would wear roller skates.

Soda fountains are like smaller diners and are often attached to drug stores. People would primarily sit on stools at a counter, sipping on milkshakes or indulging in a hot fudge sundae. Both places have a pleasant and comforting feel and are unlike what is readily available. 

3. Drive-in Movie Theaters

Many cars parked in front of a big white screen to watch movies or films sitting inside the car at drive in cinema in the evening.
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Drive-in movie theaters rose in popularity in the 1950s as a different way to watch movies. From the comfort of your car, you can enjoy one or two films with individual speakers without the distraction or disturbance of other patrons. Concessions were also available, making drive-ins appealing for families and couples on date nights. You can still find a hand full of drive-ins here and there, but I’d love it if they became the norm again. I always enjoy unique ways to watch movies.

4. Mid-Century Modern Décor

Midcentury modern designed Blackstone condos in Omaha Nebraska
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The aesthetics of mid-century modern décor may not appeal to everyone, but for many, including myself, it’s very appealing. While it was popular in the 50s, it’s a very niche style today. Mid-Century Modern décor mainstays include minimalist design, geometric shapes, clean lines, and muted or vibrant colors. Chairs designed by Eames, tulip tables, oak pieces such as bars and large stereos, and starburst atomic clocks and decorative pieces were all the rage. Polynesian Tiki aesthetics were also prevalent at the time, especially in outdoor spaces. I’d be happy to see this style come back prominently.

5. Poodle Skirts

African American woman dressed 1950's car hop girl in poodle skirt, glasses, sneakers and fuzzy sweater for United Way kids Halloween office party
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Nowadays, we only see poodle skirts as novelty items or Halloween costumes for a “’50s Girl.” These large skirts featured embroidered poodles and were typically worn at dances. Although 1950s-style dresses and skirts are still around, they are not the typical choice. But poodle skirts worn as an everyday or dance outfit are virtually non-existent. But they’re adorable, and seeing them make a comeback would be fun.

6. ’50s Music and Jukeboxes

’50s Music and Jukeboxes
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Every decade has its style of popular music, so it’s unsurprising that songs from the 1950s and current music bear little to no resemblance. However, artists such as Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, The Platters, Billy Haley and His Comets, Buddy Holly, The Everly Brothers, Brenda Lee, Patti Page, and The Chordettes have such rich and unique songs. It would be amazing to hear new music like this. 

Jukeboxes were seen in diners and featured records of the popular tunes of the day. These bright and distinctive pieces are a novelty nowadays, but a part of me profoundly longs to see them everywhere and own one myself.

7. Dressing Up

Dressing Up
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In the 1950s, dressing up was the norm, even in places you may not think of. While these clothes wouldn’t be considered fancy, people wore very fine clothes to restaurants, shopping, and even attended theme parks and fairs. All one has to do is watch footage from 1950s Disneyland or an episode of I Love Lucy to see what individuals typically wore outside the home. Ethel even tells Lucy she wouldn’t dare wear her blue jeans on the subway! My, how times have changed. While I don’t think we need to abandon casual attire every day, I’d love to see dressing up in nicer clothes be a more common occurrence.

8. Full-Service Gas Stations

Full-Service Gas Stations
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Remember that scene in Back to the Future when Marty McFly first arrives in 1955 and is astonished at the sight of a full-service gas station? You never needed to leave the comfort of your car, as everything would be taken care of. The workers would fill up your gas tank, wash your windows, and check the oil and tire pressure. It was the best! I’m sure I’m not the only one who’d love to see this return.

9. Silk Scarves

Silk Scarves
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Silk scarves were a popular staple for women in the 50s and one of the classiest, prettiest, and most versatile fashion accessories. They were worn around the neck, tied around a ponytail, or wrapped around the hair completely. The latter looked incredibly chic.

10. Simple and Inexpensive Toys

Simple and Inexpensive Toys
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Children of the ’50s did not have the many toys we have today. Nor were these toys complex or high-tech. Kids played with simple, inexpensive toys such as jacks, paper dolls, model airplanes, and hula hoops. These required children to use their imaginations more and fostered good attention skills. The way children are over-stimulated and pulled in every direction these days, simpler toys of the past would be most welcome.

11. Department Stores

Image Credit: Shutterstock.
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Department stores of the 1950s had a specialness that has changed over time. In the ’50s, these stores sold almost anything you could need. They had clothes, shoes, jewelry, housewares, appliances, candy, nuts, toys, paint, tools, and sometimes lunch counters. It was one-stop shopping with knowledgeable and helpful salespeople. These qualities are sorely lacking in the few department stores that still exist today. While I love online shopping, it would be fantastic to see a department store of this sort once again.

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