Life – especially for women in the 1950’s was very different to what we can expect by today’s standards. In those days, a lot of women married young, they stayed at home to raise children and to keep the house clean. It was a time when men were considered to be the head of the household, the breadwinner, the one who went out to work.
Even if women did want to go to work, they would be employed in what was known as ‘women’s jobs’. These would be secretaries, typists or nurses. With societal pressures there was an economic incentive to keep the woman in a marriage and at home – even if it was an unhappy marriage! Indeed, it was unusual in the 1950’s for women to go to university – especially those from working class areas. Moreover, schools often prepared girls for being a wife and a mother by providing lessons in cookery, household management, sewing and darning.
I wanted to see what the differences were in terms of household appliances, food, clothes and being a housewife then and now after reading a beautiful story about a couple who just recently got rid of appliances they purchased in 1950! Let me know what you think.
In the 1950’s there was no central heating system. Coal fires would heat the rooms downstairs while the upstairs would be heated by an electric fire. There was no double glazing either so in winter it was common place for ice to form on the windows! Keeping a bed warm was easy with a hot water bottle.
Fridges were starting to become more accessible to households to store food, but there were no freezers and no supermarkets! People shopped in local stores with most people buying items to use straight away.
Many homes had a vacuum cleaner and a cooker. Vacuums were often heavy bulky items that often gave you a bad back! Probably bought on Hire Purchase. Entertainment wasn’t 100+ channels but a radio (known as a wireless). Although TVs started to become popular, although these would have been rented rather than owned. Of course in black and white too!
Image credit: Getty 1950′ housewife
Shopping for groceries was often completed each day and required visiting several shops such as the butcher and the greengrocer. Often items were behind the counter so there was often no browsing either.
Clothes were mostly handmade with a heavy reliance on knitted items. Recycling and mending was a big thing, reusing clothes or sewing to ensure longevity. However, I love the silhouettes of the clothes from the 1950s. There were beautiful swing dresses or pencil dresses. There wasn’t a size zero in sight!
The House Wife
Women and men have more choice today as to whether they stay at home to look after children. However in the 1950s there was little choice for women. They were strongly encouraged to stay at home to be a wife and mother. Doing housework and looking after children were considered as women’s work. Indeed women were expected to clean the house and have dinner ready for her husband coming home from work!
Image credit: FivePrime
For me there are several huge differences between the 1950s and today. One is the options available to women – although there is still a way to go! The second is the gadgets and appliances. To be honest I could not live without my Vax Blade 32V Cordless Vacuum Cleaner! It seems that without these housework – no matter who does it – would have taken all day. Even simple cleaning jobs would take forever. Like cleaning an oven! These days I use Oven Pride with no scrubbing involved. In 1950 I would have needed to scrub for hours!
So while I do love all things vintage, reading some of the differences between then and now, I can honestly say that I would prefer my gadgets and all those helping hands that make life so much easier to keep the house clean and tidy without having to spend hours doing it.
What do you think? What household item could you not live without?
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