Former St. Vincent Institute

Immodest Dresses are Not Appreciated

Fashion change in the 1950s

Our tour begins at the old site of St. Vincent Institute, a Catholic School on Morris Ave (between South Main and Partridge St) in Albany. In 1951, the girls at St. Vincent chose to protest racy outfits, specifically off the shoulder dresses (which many girls were wearing to school dances), by wearing their uniforms to their prom which would be held on December 28. This could be caused by the counter culture, also seen in my second source. Theresa Richardson Phd, wrote a paper on the rise of counter culture following the Second World War. In it, she wrote about the changing experience of teenagers. She wrote that many teen’s parents had grown up in the Great Depression, followed by the Second World War. Now, society was thriving, and parents could give their children money to go out and indulge in recreational activities. (Richardson, 2012). This may have caused teens to want to dress differently than their parents, perhaps in a more free and provocative style.
According to Paul Phipps, the first years after World War II (which officially ended in 1945), were huge transition years for fashion. Suddenly, people were being freer in what they were wearing. (Phipps, 2016) After the war, women started wearing dresses with their shoulders and cleavage showing more often than before. Although Phipps specifies that this sort of fashion was “not flamboyant”, these teens at St. Vincent Institute seemed to have thought so. It was a big change from the more conservative styles seen during the war. (Phipps, 2016). Stevie McGlinchey, a fashion blogger, writes that after the Second World War, women were trying to be more feminine. They did this by showing they were more glamourous, and wearing clothing which focused on their hips and bust (McGlinchey, 2012). To counter this “immodesty” as the girls said, they would wear “a blue jumper with a long sleeved white blouse” and corsage.

Street Address:

Morris St (Main and Partridge) [map]

Cite this Page:

“Former St. Vincent Institute,” Albany Walks for Health, accessed September 19, 2019,


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