"I longed for the glamour of the '50s, until I discovered its bizarre rules for women."

Ladies in Black
Thanks to our brand partner, Ladies in Black

It can sometimes feel that for us modern-day ladies, life can be a little rough.

After all, statistically we get paid less than our male counterparts, our bodies are seen as public property and although we’re allowed to follow our own career dreams and toil away in the workforce (lucky us) it can sometimes feel like we haven’t really come that far at all.

It’s a feeling that can make you long for the glamour and romance of a bygone era like the 1950s.

However, sometimes a piece of pop culture makes its way into your world and really just puts everything into perspective for you.

For me, that moment came when I watched the extraordinary Australian film Ladies in Black  (now on Blu-ray, DVD & Digital), which is based on Madeleine St John’s bestseller. It’s a movie that, while beautiful to watch and featuring a cast of talented Aussies, made me think that not only have we come a long way since the 1950s, it also made me think I may not have survived the era I was romanticising.

Here’s a little breakdown of how the 1950s compares to now, just in case anyone else was having a longing for a time where women were not allowed to make their own choices (but they did wear some great clothes!).


Do you know what we’ve lost in this era of modern dating?

The answer is the complete lack of interest for friends and family of single people to set them up on dates.

Setting up unlucky in love friends with other unattached comrades used to be a very popular pastime (for some, it was even a career choice) but nowadays anyone on the lookout for a permanent plus one is left with only one friend who is willing to help them out…a friend called Tinder.

On the other end of the spectrum, women of the ’50s didn’t have an app to help them swipe their way towards love and in many cases very much relied on the help of their friends to help them find a match.

While there is a refreshing independence to being able to take your dating future into your own hands, I also long for a time when trusted friends would jump in and lend a hand.

Ladies in Black offers up a prime example of the good that can happen when set-ups go according to plan, with the character of Magda (Julia Ormond) setting up the frustrated Fay (Rachael Taylor) with the very compatible (and very good looking) Rudi (Ryan Corr). It’s a set up no-one would think to offer today, but a good reminder that our friends sometimes know us best.

I know sisters are doing it for themselves and all that…but we’re also a little exhausted and could use some help in this modern world, thanks. In this case, I’ll have to allow a partial point to the ’50s for embracing the set-up trend, but at least nowadays we have more freedom to date whoever we like.

In Ladies in Black a frustrated Fay is set up with Rudi. Source: Sony.


Fashion for women in the 1950s was all about high glamour and high maintenance, as we see in the sumptuous costumes in Ladies in Black.

As someone who often wears sneakers to work and does not own a string of pearls, I have found myself sometimes longing for the high glamour of the '50s...until I read the rules that dictated what was really going down behind those stunning dresses.

A few fashion rules from the '50s that have been picked up and are now circling around the dark webs, they include:

“Never underestimate the importance of your girdle", which sounds very painful.

"Date bags should always be small and dainty; you wouldn’t want the boy you’re with to think there’s something in the depths that bites if disturbed". I think if your date can be frightened by a clutch purse he may not be able to stick around for the long haul.


As a millennial woman, I had a few hurdles to overcome when it came to gaining a university degree.

Questions such as “what do I want to study?” and “which university could I see myself attending and which new city could I picture myself living in?” plagued my mind. Along with the equally important question around how many water bottles of hidden vodka could I smuggle into the uni bars, but that's a dilemma for another day.

What I’m trying to get at here is that my issues were all linked to the immense amount of choices and options that were all laid out before me, and every decision I faced had to be made by me alone.

Which is in stark contrast to what my sisters seeking higher education in the '50s had to face.


In Ladies in Black, in order to attend university in that era, Lisa needed permission from her father in order to enrol. Also, when ladies in that era were granted admission into the university, their options were quite limited compared to those of their male counterparts.

The scene where her father actually says the words "no daughter of mine is going to uni!" was a pretty big wake-up call that things have changed for the better for women.

Watch the Ladies in Black trailer (post continues below)


Let's talk about sex, baby....because as women in 2018 we have the option to talk about it openly.

Sure, we don't have complete freedom to always be completely open with our sexuality, but we sure have come a long way since the 1950s.

Sex is now talked about more openly in pop culture, there is more information about sexual health available and the idea that a woman has to be "pure" for marriage has thankfully pretty much gone out the window.

In Ladies in Black sex is very much a central subject for some of the female characters, but it is handled mostly indirectly and via euphemism, never overtly discussed.

In fact, sexual liberation and sexual pleasure for women was not even on the table for discussion in the 1950s.

As Dr William Kroger and Dr Charles Freed wrote in a 1950 Journal of the American Medical Association:

"Many women not only experience no pleasure but actually suffer pain and revulsion [during coitus]."

So even though the women of the 1950s deserve our respect for paving the way, it's safe to say that things are very much getting better with time.

What other bizarre rules from the '50s have you heard about? Tell us more below!

Ladies in Black is out now on Blu-ray, DVD & Digital. Get it for Christmas!

Ladies in Black

Ladies in Black is set in Sydney in the summer of 1959, against the backdrop of Australia's cultural awakening, breakdown of class structures, and liberation of women. It tells the coming-of-age story of suburban schoolgirl Lisa, who while waiting for her final high school exam results with dreams of going to the University of Sydney, takes a summer job at a large department store. Here she works side-by-side with a group of saleswomen who open her eyes to a world beyond her sheltered existence, and foster her metamorphosis.

Based on the bestselling novel by Madeleine St John, "Ladies in Black" is an alluring and tender-hearted comedy drama about the lives of a group of department store employees in 1959 Sydney.

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