How to Dress Your Child for the '50s

When considering a 1950s-inspired costume for your child, the classic retro looks of a greaser, pink lady, bobby-soxer and bowler are easy to put together and fun to see. The inspiration for these styles is similar, yet the looks require different elements. Depending on the size of your child, these pieces can be purchased from costume shops or a vintage store.


Things You'll Need

  • Pomade or hair gel
  • Black motorcycle or leather jacket
  • White T-shirt
  • Blue jeans
  • Black boots or shoes

Look at pictures of 1950s greasers and more recent interpretations for inspiration. Musicians from the '50s such as Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent captured the style, as did members of more recent bands like Sha Na Na and The Stray Cats.

Dress your child in the dark blue jeans and and roll up the bottoms for a 2-inch cuff. The white T-shirt can be worn with the sleeves rolled up or down. Kids who plan on not wearing a leather jacket or taking it off may want to roll up their sleeves so the ends of the cuffs are close to the shoulder. Ideally the leather jacket should be a motorcycle style. Add the jacket and boots or shoes.

Using pomade or hair gel, grease the back of the hair into a ducktail. For this style, the hair is parted in the middle and then combed forward in the back to resemble a duck's tail feathers. The hair on top is combed up with one curl pulled down on the forehead. Don't forget to have a bit of knowing attitude to top things off.

Pink Lady

Things You'll Need

  • Black Capri or leather pants
  • Pink jacket in satin or cotton
  • Pink blouse
  • Cat-style sunglasses
  • Black neckerchief
  • Black penny loafers or jazz flats

Look at scenes from the movie "Grease" featuring the Pink Ladies to get an idea of the style.

Dress your child in the black pants, blouse and shoes. Cover the blouse with the pink jacket for that classic style.

The hair is a key element. Bangs with a hairband or up in a ponytail work well. Short hair with curls, reminiscent of the "Rizzo" character from Grease, also works well.


Things You'll Need

  • Poodle skirt or polka dot dress
  • Cardigan sweater in pink or blue
  • White button-up shirt or blouse
  • Black cat-style sunglasses
  • Hairband or hair ribbons
  • White socks
  • Neckerchief
  • Jazz flats or black and white wingtips

Check out the Sandy character in the movie "Grease" to get a view of the bobby-soxer style. The poodle skirt is one of the defining elements of the costume. If you can't find one, take a pink skirt and iron on a black silhouette of a poodle.

Dress your child in the poodle skirt, shirt or blouse, socks, cardigan sweater, shoes or sneakers. Be sure that the white socks are rolled to the ankle (an important detail). A neckerchief can be tied around the neck for a nice accessory.

The hair can either be done up in pig tails, accented with hair ribbons or brushed close to the head with a hairband.


Things You'll Need

  • Bowling shirt
  • Dark blue jeans
  • Bowling shoes or sneakers
  • Real or toy bowling ball
  • White T-shirt
  • White socks
  • Pomade or hair gel

Locating a well-fitting kids-size bowling shirt may be the most challenging part of this costume. If one can't be found, a short-sleeve black or mustard yellow button-down shirt can do, particularly if words are ironed onto the back.

While the hair doesn't have to be done up in a ducktail for the costume to be accurate, a greased back 'do is appropriate. Carrying a real bowling ball all night may be tiring, so a hollow toy may work just fine.