Have you ever played the game Mystery Date? How exciting it was to be able to take your turn and open that door! Every girl player was on the edge of her seat to see who was waiting for them behind the little white door! Was it the “Dreamboat”, or was it the “Dud”? Looking back, dating seems like it was so much more fun! Today’s process, where internet dating plays such a huge role.. certainly can make it a real mystery !
In the 1950’s and ’60’s eras, young girls swooned over real movie stars, dreamed of a fantasy wedding complete with a show-stopping white gown that took the breath away of every attendee. She imagined wearing sparkling glass slippers, just like Cinderella. The new bride would be swept on to the dance floor by her new husband and would float all around her ethereal reception with him at her side. Yes, girls spent a lot of time thinking about getting married, and dreaming of their wedding, much more than they thought about the actual dating process. This being the case, they looked at every young gentleman with a critical eye trying to discern if he would fit into their dreams of a perfect husband.
In the 1950’s, young ladies would have pajama parties, totally focused on this very important process. Lounging around together, they would take turns trying out makeup, styling each other’s hair, painting their nails, and even acting out different scenarios they might face when going on a date with a real boy!
Trying on each other’s clothes was always fun, after all, there had to be a different outfit to suit any occasion! For teenage girls, the “circle dress”, also known as the “swing dress” was the cat’s meow! The circle, or swing dress was form fitting at the waist, and graduated to a very full and flowing skirt that was usually knee to mid-calf length.
Similar in style, “Poodleskirts”, created by Juli Lynne Charlot, in 1947, were very popular with teenage girls. Because of their simplistic design, girls with even minimal sewing skills could make them at home. This seems to be the primary reason for their extreme popularity, since girls could make unique, custom poodle skirts for themselves, very easily and inexpensively. Petticoats or crinolines were often worn underneath to optimize the puffy volume and movement of the skirts. Paired with ballerina flats or Saddle Oxfords and angora ankle socks for daytime, or kitten heels for a dressier look. Cardigan sweaters were worn draped over their shoulders, using sweater clips as a decorative way to keep the sweaters in place. And, to complete the look, a chiffon scarf was often tied up in a loose bow around a high ponytail.
Once a date was accepted, the important first step was choosing the perfect ensemble to wear. The next step was to be able to live through the inevitable requirement of getting your father’s approval. The young lady was usually worried about just how terrifying her dad was going to be, when the two met for the first time! The young gentleman was always required to come to the front door and meet face to face with his dates’ father and mother (who usually aided her daughter, in transitioning the young couple out of the door). Honking the horn while waiting in the car was a sure way to get your date cancelled! Many first dates were in a group setting which seemed to ease those first date jitters. A trip to the malt shop, bowling alley or dances were standard dating fare. Holding hands was a big deal, it was usually their first physical contact. And it was a privilege that needed to be earned.
It all seems so simple now, and oh so romantic, compared to how things are commonly done today. Love is in the air, and how wonderful to slow down in our fast-paced world, to focus, if only for a few hours, on just one special person. Today, spontaneity is the norm, so why not plan out some special time with your special someone? Go to a special place, talk, enjoy looking into each other’s eyes, hold hands, and by all means, dress for the occasion!