The fashion pendulum is forever swinging. One style gets popular and you see it everywhere until a few innovative people start sporting it’s polar opposite. After a while, that once-fresh style gets too popular and the old look cycles back into favor. Statement necklaces give way to dainty necklaces. Baggy jeans give way to skinny jeans and back again.
Right now, the innovative ones have adopted a high waisted look. Right now, my customers want a waistline at or above the natural waist in jeans, shorts and pencil skirts.
Mid century vintage shorts sport a high waist so they definitely fit in with that look. With that in mind, I recently asked my Etsy model Angela La Muse to show us vintage shorts from the 40’s to the early 60’s, the heyday of great high waisted shorts. The Betty Grable bombshell look is her specialty, so she was happy to oblige.
We started with the 1940s because it is really the first decade that women wore shorts. In classic pin-up style, the silhouette is high waisted and rather short. Some have trouser detail like pleats, cuffs and pockets. They close at the side or back.
In the 1950’s, leisure culture in America really took hold. Think about the suburban casual lifestyle from the decade that gave us the patio, the lanai, grilling, and pool parties. The Miami/Palm Beach aesthetic was new and fresh. Along with that came shorts of many styles.
In the 1950’s the shortest length was the short short, followed by an above the knee Bermuda, below the knee pedal pushers and the capri which is somewhere between a short and a pant. Other cropped pants or long shorts were known as pedal pushers, clam diggers, and toreador pants.
In the early 1960’s, shorts were still high waisted but came to the knee or below.
By the mid to late 60’s, the style pendulum had moved to hip huggers and cut offs, and these high waisted beauties had to wait for the next style cycle to make them fashionable again.