I hope you all enjoyed yesterday’s post! Today we are going to be studying the 1940’s; an era interrupted by the havoc of war, and the economic trials it brought. But of course, just because there was a war going on, didn’t mean that things had to be somber and blue on the home front. No! In fact girls tried to dress nice back in the states in order to boost the morale of the soldiers going away to war.
The U.S. didn’t enter the war until 1941, but the government was preparing for the economic turmoil far before our part began. In 1939 the government began encouraging designers and retailers to host shows with examples of dresses and garments that could be styled for more than one occasion (the beginning of today’s multitasking wardrobe, and the end of “a dress for every occasion”). Shoulders were boxy and more masculine, though I wouldn’t say that the styles became very masculine other than that. Of course, due to rationing, which began in 1942, fabric, and the amount of trim applied were limited. Just a few examples: enormously full skirts were not allowed; tucks and ruffles were limited; suits could only be single-breasted, with the jacket hitting about hip length. To make up for this rationing, colors were bright, and styles were fun, practical and playful. Novelty patterns were a big thing in the 40’s. The world of separates began to expand as well, though dresses still made up the majority of a girl’s wardrobe.
A classic dress from this era was the shirtwaist styles which you can see in the last picture above. Nautical styles from the 30’s continued well into this era, most likely encouraged by the war. Trousers also became more accepted for womenswear as more women went into the work force to take the place of the men who had gone away to war.
After the war, in 1947, Dior introduced his new look, and the women of America, for the most part, were ready for it! Fuller skirts were reintroduced, although shoulders remained boxy until the early 50’s. Shoes throughout the entire era of the 40’s were practical and fun, a staple shoe for teenagers being the saddle shoe. The ballerina flat, including more “ballerina” styles in clothing, were introduced in the late 40’s.
As always, if you are intrigued about the 40’s I would highly recommend researching more, as all I can give you today is just a taste of the fashions of the era.
As a summing-up, I would say that all the excesses of the 30’s were done away with due to the war, so the interest in sleeves, collars, etc. disappeared, and the emphasis was put more on accessories and small details.
1st look // I chose a simple and fun cotton dress with a not-too-full skirt, some classic, sturdy pumps, and a coordinating cardigan to keep the chill away on colder days. For accessories, I thought this bird comb would be the perfect accent to a victory roll hairstyle, and the novelty cherry necklace added the perfect touch of authentic whimsy. If you want to style down this outfit, just trade out the heels for the saddle shoes, and you are good to go for an afternoon of play.
2nd look // I tried to channel the fun, nautical style of the 40’s with this candy-striped skirt that just screamed 40’s, I then paired it with this adorable sailor collar blouse and some saltwater sandals. The necklace is a Canadian WW2 Sweetheart necklace (a whole other world of jewelry from the 40’s) from Chronically Vintage. This outfit could also be paired with the saddle shoes for a more town-ready, or swing-dance look.
How We Wore It
I styled my handmade 1940’s Atomic Printed blouse in the late 40’s style with a thrifted red skirt reminiscent of the late 40’s, some kitten heels (which I would say are not entirely authentic) and some circular red earrings.
Hair and Beauty
A cute graphic of some classic Hollywood hairstyles from the 40’s through the 60’s.
Headscarves were a huge thing in the 1940’s. Here’s a tutorial on tying one.
Some short hairstyles that would work well for the 40’s
A guide to choosing a hat and hairstyle based on your face shape.
A tutorial on doing a 1940’s pin-curl hairdo.
Colour Palette for a classic 1940’s makeup look.
A simple, authentic 1940’s makeup tutorial from Super Kawaii Mama
Modcloth, as always, is a great resource for vintage inspired pieces.
Tara Starlet is an adorable UK based store with a totally cute selection of 40’s/50’s inspired pieces.
Puttin on the Ritz is another UK based (don’t worry, they have free international shipping), Family owned, Vintage Repro line with a cute selection of 30’s-40’s inspired pieces.
Heyday is another vintage repro line with some more reasonably priced pieces.