Swing Dancing Clothes in the 1950s

By Sammy Delarosa

The 1950s marked the era when swing dancing clothes became one of the hottest fashion trends. This was due to the fact that swing dancing was one the most practiced style of dancing among teenagers and adults. This kind of dance requires energy and a lot of spinning, lifting and flipping of a partner. Men, women and teenagers wore clothes that allowed them to move freely and comfortably on the dance floor. Even the undergarments for women were designed to look attractive and presentable since these would be exposed when doing the swing.

The right clothes were an essential part of a swing dance experience.

Women’s Swing Dance Clothes

In this era, women would wear swing skirt dresses which were considered feminine and casual. These knee-length dresses were designed with full and flowing skirts for easy movement. Swing dresses were worn to various events and on happy occasions. A fitted top was worn with the swing skirt and underneath the skirt was a petticoat. The petticoat was an added flair to make women look more attractive when doing swing dancing particularly during lifts and spins. The dresses came in various soft colors and patterns such as floral and polka-dot prints.

Men’s Swing Dance Clothes

Although zoot suits were still worn in the 50s, most men wore tight t-shirts and lightweight pants for swing dancing. The fabric used for the shirt and pants were either rayon or nylon to keep the men cool and fresh while dancing. Men also wore suspenders to go with the outfit as an added design element. For a classy look, some men wore button-down shirts with a skinny tie. Today, you can still see men wearing these vintage outfits when going ballroom dancing.

Teenager’s Swing Dance Clothes

Teenage girls of this era wore poodle skirts. This skirt was called a "poodle skirt" because of the poodle design found on the front hemline of the skirt. The fabric of the skirt was made of felt which would make it ideal for twirling and swinging on the dance floor. Teenage girls would wear this skirt with short socks and oxford or Mary Jane shoes. On the other hand, teenage boys wore outfits as seen in the period movie "Grease" such as leather jackets and plain colored t-shirts.


For swing dancing, low-heeled shoes such as saddle shoes or Mary Jane shoes were worn by women. The soles were smooth and ideal for dancing the swing. Most teenagers as well as some women wore sneakers. One of the most popular rubber shoes at that time were the classic Converse. On the other hand, men wore captoe or wing-tip shoes. These types of shoes were designed not only to complement the outfit but also to make dancing easier and comfortable.