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1950s house dresses were fancier than previous decades that favored the plain wrap around dress. A 1950s woman had to look elegant and clean, not exhausted by endless labor. New inventions in house cleaning and cooking appliances made her day easier. Looking like a hot mess was not acceptable, or so she was told over and over again by TV, radio ads, and newspapers.
Comfort was key. The full skirt (5 yards at least) of gathered fabric with a thin petticoat underneath made them easy to move it, change bed sheets, make dinner and tend to children. The button down bodice, known as a shirtwaist, was the prime style of house dress. Easy to put on and take off by oneself it had been around for years but the 1950s woman made it her signature day dress. Read more:http://vintagedancer.com/1950s/1950s-house-dresses-aprons/
My recollection of the 50s is that my mother and I both wore slips. I don't think that she even had a petticoat. My friends and I wore petticoats when we wanted our fancier dresses to be "fuller" - they were often crinoline. (high school/college age in the 1950s.)