Dressing Like a 1950s Housewife Is Not Just for ‘Trad Wives’
Bright-red lipstick, curled hair, high heels, full skirts: Feminists and ‘trad wives’ alike are embracing the midcentury look
By Rory Satran
Look closely among the droves of people in
Lululemon leggings and
Crocs next time you’re at the grocery store or the airport, and you might notice a curious sight: a woman dressed like a 1950s housewife. With her curled hair, full-skirted dress and high-heeled Mary-Jane shoes, she could be straight out of “I Love Lucy” or “Leave It to Beaver.” She might even be wearing an anachronistic frilly petticoat or apron. Wasn’t this a style that was left firmly in the past?
Apparently not. A new generation of women is discovering the midcentury look, albeit for wildly varying reasons. Perhaps most divisively, there’s the “trad wife” movement, an online community of traditional women whose retro fashion reflects their religious, conservative and even sometimes far-right values. Then there are women who profess “vintage style, not vintage values,” combining hourglass silhouettes with a progressive worldview. And then there are those women and designers who just happen to appreciate the bygone charm of a swirly skirt.
Lisa Pontius, a 35-year-old Charleston, S.C., homemaker, wears bright-red lipstick, wasp-waisted dresses and the occasional apron.
“Looking at me, you’re going to probably assume a lot of things, but you probably would be extremely wrong,” she said. She’s not a trad wife; she just likes the way the clothes and makeup look.