You get up, dress up, and spend the rest of the day making sure that your home is immaculate, just like your dress, and that your husband is joyful from the moment he gets home until his bedtime. In the meantime, you have to clean up the house, play with kids, go to several stores, because in the ’50s giant supermarkets didn’t exist, make fresh meals, and look impeccable.
There was no internet, no deliveries, so if you forget one ingredient, you’re back to square one. Welcome to the life of the 1950’s housewife.
We tend to make jokes and mock the lifestyle of our female ancestors. The 50s housewives are actually tragic figures for one simple reason: they didn’t have a choice. They had to be cooking experts to please their hubbies, take care of everything while getting nothing in return.
If anything, we should be thankful that we’re not living their lives and that women’s rights are always progressing. Sure, things aren’t ideal, but most of us have choices. And with that comes a freedom that a 50s housewife only had while they were asleep.
Typical middle-class suburban 1950’s housewife’s day
Recently, women started a challenge acting as the 50s housewives for a day. For many, it started and ended with fashion, perfect hair, and a spotless dining room.
Needless to say, pretty much everyone who accepted the challenge for happy once it ended, even though it lasted one day, not a lifetime.
It seems that a typical housewife from the 50s lived on repeat. Each day was the same, everything had to be spotless, and since a middle-class family had one car, a 50s housewife had to do a lot of walking to gain all ingredients for all the nutritious and delicious meals for her husband and kids.
The typical day consisted of making all three fresh meals, shopping, tidying up each spot of the house, dusting, fluffing pillows, watering plants, laundry, hanging the clothes, washing the dishes, and all that without the help of machines.
Everything had to be on time because once the husband’s home attention goes to his enjoyment. With no money, career, or power, many were trapped in loveless marriages with no other option than to continue living the same life until the end.
Most households had a vacuum cleaner and a cooker. The rest, like washing machines, dryers, fridges, or TVs, came later. But it’s not like a 50s housewife had any time to watch the TV. Their clothes were mostly handmade, so they really knew how to keep themselves busy.
Don’t let others fool you. The good old days were anything but good. You had to do everything by yourself, and make it look effortless.
Taking care of your hubby as a 50s housewife
A woman was responsible for keeping the marriage alive. Of course, that came with a set of rules, and none of them were female-friendly.
First, women weren’t supposed to crave sex. Yet, they had to give their best whenever the husband felt like making love.
Wearing pink panties was pretty much the biggest turn-on for many husbands, so the women obeyed. It was the least of their worries.
Then, there was nagging. If you were a 50s housewife, you weren’t supposed to talk. Otherwise, your hubby will start calling you names because he was your boss.
Cheating wasn’t a big deal. Well, a housewife wasn’t the one doing the cheating, but if the husband did, a wife wouldn’t nag about it.
Finally, you had to be a good cook and a good homemaker. If not, your husband will stop coming home, and you won’t be able to survive since he was the one with all the money.
And if the kids were having problems, well, that was on the housewife. Fathers were always doing the right thing.
It’s not that your average male had an idyllic life. Men worked hard to earn every cent, but at least they had their perfect tiny homes and time to relax and enjoy. Women were lucky if they didn’t have to walk to get fresh groceries twice a day.
How to Dress Like a 1950’s Housewife
Having an A-lined dress with polka dots was every lady’s dream. Though often represented as fashion icons, the 50s housewives had to be crafty since there were no shops for regular folks.
Since they were always on the run, yet everything had to be perfect, the dresses were modest and cozy. Full skirt, accented waistline, and flare were good enough both for the chores and keeping the husband happy.
Curves were insanely popular, so creating that hourglass figure was a must. For special occasions, they wore coat dresses and hats or fascinators.
The heels were low and a bit chunky. Imagine having to wash curtains in high, spiked heels… That’s never going to happen!
1950’s housewives also wore jumpsuits and pants, even jeans, with printed blouses or simple white shirts. They were quite feminine and creative, always with minimal makeup and exceptional hairstyles.
Everything about the 50s was presentable, and that why women are still inspired by this fashionable decade. Unlike the 70s or the 90s, women weren’t too keen on experimenting. Instead, they wanted to show their traditional values even with their styling.
Why we need to celebrate a typical 50s housewife
In two decades, these incredible women went from no power to become working mothers and wives.
The progress of the Women’s Liberation started with women taking smaller jobs to help out their families. The postwar housewife wanted more than her mother’s generation had been able to imagine. And she knew that she needed to take small steps to gain that freedom.
Not all women hated their lives and wanted the change. But, most of them needed more freedom and equality. The good old days were more about presenting an image than about choices and happiness.
Though we will never know what they genuinely felt, homemakers from the 50s had to ask permission from their hubbies for everything. Some got so used to this that they eventually found joy in being the perfect wife.
The others didn’t know better. But many learned that there’s more to life, and they were clever and wise enough to think about future generations.
It was degrading in many ways, repetitive, and quite exhausting. Let’s just say that, apart from fashion and hairstyles, we’re lucky that we no longer live in that post-war era.