Conversation Starters-50s and 60s Novelty Print Skirts

60s novelty print skirt

Today I’d like to share photos of some of my favorite vintage novelty print skirts from the 1950s and 60s.   Novelty prints are also referred to as conversational prints. And it’s pretty obvious why.   It’s guaranteed when wearing something in an eyecatching vintage novelty print  someone is bound to engage you or at least comment on it.  But please don’t fear trying them out, as the feedback , in my experience anyway, has only been positive.

And when you think about it,  isn’t clothing just a type of non verbal communication?  The clothes you chose to wear in public can just as easily encourage interaction with others as not, depending on your mood.  So stepping out in a colorful vintage novelty print is a way to convey that you are fun,  lighthearted and approachable.  At least that’s my opinion, and I’m sticking to it!

Novelty prints are distinguished from your typical floral, dot, stripe, check, etc, etc,  print by their  theme.  Popular subjects are buildings, people, animals, insects, kitchen decor, food,  architectural elements, holiday and pop culture symbols.  They are fun, whimsical and I have to admit I’m a bit addicted to them.

Novelty prints appeared in clothing as far back as the 1800s. But I love the ones from the 50s and early 60s the best because of their kitschy quirkiness.

Sir James California designer novelty prints

Pre 1970 novelty prints are collectible, either as yardage or in clothing. They’re in demand with quilters and vintage fashion lovers.   And vintage dresses and skirts in rare or unique patterns are rising in price, often selling for hundreds of dollars. So, ladies, if you’re out thrifting or flea marketing and you happen upon one of these rare beauties for a bargain price I suggest you snag it. And if you don’t want to keep it, just send me a message. I’ll be happy to take it off your hands!

novelty print skirts collage

I absolutely love the color combination in this first skirt. Olive green, yellow, hot pink and black.  The buildings have onion shaped domes like you see in churches in Russia, Eastern Europe and Germany. There are people standing in the doorways wearing fancy clothes.  The main images surrounded by bows and intricate lacy patterned borders.

1960s green novelty print skirt

I’ve been waiting for my starburst tree to bloom so I could take some photos in front of it. The flowers are so darn pretty and they only last a couple of weeks.  I recently found out it is a member of the mint family. And the only similarity I can see is the fact that these things spread like mad! Anyway, I thought they complemented the pink shades in the skirt. Always nice to match your landscape to your outfit, don’t you think?

60s green novelty print skirt


This one is super crazy cute with its large images of  baskets of fruit and flowers in aqua, greens and yellows. Perfect for a trip to the farmer’s market! I purchased this a while ago from Maggie of Denisebrain on Etsy.  She’s a fellow Vintage Fashion Guild member, a professional French horn player and an all around fantastic person. Check out her store. She’s got great stuff!

60s fruit print skirt

1960s fruit print skirt


1960s fruit novelty print skirt

I’ve been collecting and selling Alfred Shaheen pieces for over 15 years and this is the only skirt I’ve ever found by this famous Hawaiian screen printer.  From the 1950s, it has a fabulous novelty sea life print.  I can’t envision ever parting with this one, or the one below for that matter, which is another novelty sea life print I adore.
50s alfred shaheen print skirt

1950s novelty print shaheen skirt


This is a previous post I did featuring this  skirt.

1950s sea life print skirt

50s sea life novelty print


So what do you think? Would you give novelty prints a try? And if you’ve worn them, did you get any positive feedback?

Till next time……






Linking up with

Jess/Elegantly Dressed and Stylish-Turning Heads Tuesday.

Catherine/Not Dressed as Lamb/#IwillwearwhatIlike

Shelbee on the Edge

By | 2018-02-16T10:50:43-04:00 February 13th, 2018|Fashion|12 Comments

About the Author:

Hi, I'm Theresa, owner and chief classy dame at the Blue Velvet Vintage online boutique. Lover of mid century fashion and home decor, classic films, Old Hollywood, pretty dresses, red lipstick, swing dancing and retro culture in general. Between my ecommere site and vintage style blog my mission is to revive the eras of classy dressing and inspire women to add more glamour to their lives! So don't be shy! I love to hear from others who share my appreciation of the styles of the past.


  1. Theresa Campbell
    Theresa Campbell February 20, 2018 at 11:27 am

    Thanks, Jess. We may have to stress through hurricane season but at least we have beautiful flowering plants and trees all winter!

  2. Theresa Campbell
    Theresa Campbell February 20, 2018 at 11:24 am

    Well, thank you so much!

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    Jessica A Jannenga February 19, 2018 at 11:37 am

    oh i love these on you! They all fit so wonderfully with your brightly colored tops and the prints are beautiful. i really love the colors in your first print pretty pictures with your flowers, we still have bare trees here! I love the history that you provide, as i didn’t know when they first became popular. You look lovely!
    thanks for linking!
    jess xx

  4. Avatar
    Nina Nguyen February 15, 2018 at 10:20 am
  5. Theresa Campbell
    Theresa Campbell February 15, 2018 at 9:02 am

    Thanks, Laurie. Yes, the colors are very bright. Looks like these pieces were very well cared for.

  6. Avatar
    Laurie February 15, 2018 at 4:41 am

    What a collection! I’m amazed at how vibrant the colours are still. And very flattering too. I’m looking out for those patterns!
    Laurie xx

  7. Theresa Campbell
    Theresa Campbell February 14, 2018 at 3:15 pm

    Thanks Katherine. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen one with birds on it, but I’ll bet they’re out there somewhere!

  8. Theresa Campbell
    Theresa Campbell February 14, 2018 at 3:14 pm

    That is so cool you’ve got a photo of your Mum wearing a Venice print skirt. I’d love to see! I do recall seeing some online with gondolas on it.

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    Kathrine Eldridge February 14, 2018 at 2:28 pm

    Love your collection of novelty print skirts! I do love that color palette of the first one. I would try this if I could get a great bird print because I love birds.

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    Vix February 14, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    You look wonderful in your novelty print skirts and the vintage adverts are just wonderful.
    I’ve sold quite a number in the past but as the years pass they get rarer and rarer. The UK during the 1950s was still in the grip of food rationing, people were a lot smaller and the waist sizes on many of ours are far too titchy for the average Brit!
    I’ve got a photo of my mum wearing one featuring Venice, she wore it for a youth club trip to Lido di Jesolo in Italy in 1963! xxx

  11. Theresa Campbell
    Theresa Campbell February 14, 2018 at 9:38 am

    Yes, finding them in wearable sizes is a challenge. That’s why when I find one that fits me as is I don’t want to give it up. There are also nifty little products called waist extenders that you can attach where the skirt buttons that will give you another inch or so. You would have to wear a top that covers the waist to hide it. But they do work. Also, if you can sew, enlarging the waistband on a skirt is another possibility and not a very complicated project. Or a professional seamstress could do it easily. Totally worth the time and/or expense to be able to fit into one of these lovelies!

  12. Avatar
    Suzanne February 13, 2018 at 7:42 pm

    Gah! I LOVE your novelty print skirts. From on vintage collector to another they are a bit of an obsession. I’ve sold a couple and picked up some nice cash for them. I’d have kept them if they weren’t so tiny.


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