In the 1950s, sock hops were a cultural cornerstone for teens. Back then, dozens of shoeless kids filled their high-school gymnasiums with rock n' roll and plenty of Jitterbug-ing. Today, the sock hop is a lighthearted throwback and a good reason to put on the retro nines. To keep that teeny-bopping spirit alive, your wardrobe should reflect the era, but there are no hard-and-fast rules for sock hop success. As long as you keep things 50s-themed, dance-friendly and informal, you'll be hopping in style.
Poodle Skirts and Bobby Socks
The term “sock hop” is synonymous with poodle skirts and bobby socks, and if you're of the fairer sex, you absolutely cannot go wrong with this classic combo. Even if it doesn't have any canine-themed embellishments, a swing skirt with a narrow waist keeps you period-accurate and flexible. Stick to a well-fitted top, such as a turtleneck or a loose cardigan. For a mature look, go with a cinch-waisted, belted dress with a ballerina-length hem or a printed halter sundress. Keep the colors springy; pastel shades are right at home at the hop.
Greaser Style for Guys
For men, a clean white t-shirt and slim or straight-fit blue jeans is iconic. Nail the details by tightly rolling the sleeves of the tee and cuffing the jeans. Top off your look with a lightweight leather jacket, which you can sling over your shoulder or tie around your waist when the dancing heats up. If you'd rather not embrace your inner greaser, go with a well-fitted polo, cuffed, tapered chinos and a skinny belt. For a little more flourish, roll the sleeves on a vintage Hawaiian-print shirt to make an impression at summer hops.
To Sock or Not to Sock
Originally, teenage dancers had to remove their shoes to attend the sock hop, as schools wanted to avoid damaging gym floors. Modern dance floors are more resilient, so your sock hop might allow shoes. If it does, saddle shoes are a classic for ladies, while flexible penny loafers are a staple for guys. Shake up the saddle shoes with a two-toned finish if you prefer bolder footwear. For men, pliable and comfy espadrilles capture the '50s style, and they go particularly well with chinos.
The right hairstyle absolutely completes the sock hop look. A simply pony tail -- tied with a ribbon, of course -- does the trick for women, while men should go for a side part or pompadour with a liberal dose of pomade. For a fancier get-up, women can choose curls or a pinned hairdo and focus on peach, pastel and orange makeup shades. Track down a pair of cat-eye or horn-rimmed glasses to create a vibe that's both hip and nostalgic.
Dan combines his decade-long experience as a freelance writer and small business owner with hands-on experience in fashion, mixology, media production and more. Previously, he's published with Chron.com, Charlotte's Book, LIVESTRONG, Civilized Life, Hunker, Fortune, Salon.com, Out East Rose, Samsung, USA Today and others.