It doesn't matter if it's patterns, advertisements or actual clothing, when you are working with a large lot of fashion over a period of years, you learn to date certain silhouettes at a glance.
In listing these 4 patterns today, I realized that the finer points of the changes aren't just in the price, logo placement and art work, but in the width and length of the skirt and undergarments, placement of the waist and emphasis or lack of such, on the bust line.
This lovely 1950 party dress is strapless and fitted, but has emphasis on the hips with the peplum. The skirt is full but lays gracefully instead of being puffed up with petticoats. Skirt length is mid calf.
By 1955 the emphasis is on an Hour glass figure with a dropped waist (this style is often called a Long Torso), and very full skirt held out by layers and layers of petticoats. The skirt length drops to 3/4 of the way below the knee almost to the ankle.
In 1961 choose slim or full skirt under a fitted midriff with major emphasis on the bustline. Puffy skirt stars at the waist and is once again held out by layers of petticoats but the puff starts at the waistline, not below. Skirts are shorter but still well below the knee.
1964 brigs us slim but not the form fitting sheath of the 50's. This styling is softer and less structured and emphasizes the bust without being obvious. The waspish waist is gone and slim hips prevail. The skirt is still below the knee but higher than the past 15 years.
All of these and many many more can be found at www.cemetarian.com