Bye Bye Birdie: 50s Fashions, Icons, Rock Stars

Bye Bye Birdie:  50s Fashions, Icons, Rock Stars

Elizabeth Rickards, Staff Writer, Jour;nalism I

Bye Bye Birdie is set in the 1950s when Rock n’ Roll was on the rise, girls wore multiple petticoats, the Vietnam War began, and Ed Sullivan showed up in black-and-white on late night tv. It was a much different time than what we live in. The 50s fashion, icons, slang, dances and popular events differ greatly from today’s.


  • 50s fashion: In the 1950s, young women wore petticoat upon petticoat and scarves in their hair. Other women wore cigarette pants with tucked in Italian or Roman shirts or blouses. Young men wore jeans and a leather-man jacket or leather jacket. Cardigan jackets for men were also on the rise. Imagine Grease or Rebel Without a Cause
  • 50s icons: People like Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Audrey Hepburn, Lucille Ball, Doris Day, and Elizabeth Taylor graced the screen. Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra created music that filled people’s ears. Ed Sullivan’s Sunday night variety show was a must in every household with a television set.
  • 50s slang or words: The “Icehouse” was a storage place for ice and some kids would hang out there. Being “pinned” was a young woman getting a fraternity pin from a young men as symbol of their affection. “Dirty Jerry’s” was a derogatory nickname for Germans in both World Wars.
  • 50s dances: The boogie woogie, the twist, the bop, the jive, the loop the loop,  the jitterbug, and anything rock n’ roll was on the rise in young people’s dances. American Bandstand was Dick Clark’s Saturday dance show that every teenager watched.
  • 50s popular events: It was 1955 when Rosa Parks did not get up from her seat on the bus and the civil rights movement was beginning. The post World War II baby boom continued with four million babies born every year. The Vietnam War began, and Elvis was drafted to fight. Communism sparked the “Red Scare,” leading to millions of Americans losing their jobs and the beginning of the Cold War. Alaska and Hawaii were introduced as the 49th and 50th states in 1959.
  • 50s vs today: Today women don’t wear as many petticoats as they used to. TV now plays hundreds of channels, and there are many new kinds of music. The draft is not in force now. Terms have changed over the years, going from “pinned” to “dating.” They had the twist; we have the whip. We still adore icons from the 50s like Elvis Presley, but we also have people like Ed Sheeran, Barack Obama and George Clooney.