1940s Fashion

1940s FashionAfter the Great Depression, the World War II dented the morale of the people. In such desperate times with shortage of supplies and rationing, men and women still held on to fashion and made do with simplicity. Read more on 1940s fashion trends in this article and find out what was considered as hot in that era.

When you think in time, you know that there are lots of things for which you are grateful. Times like the World War also had some obscure but positive impacts. One such impact was seen in the world of fashion. When the men left their homes to lay their lives for their country and beliefs, the world changed the way the dressing sense was defined previously. The 1940s fashion is one such fashionable times which defined the style statements of years to come.

1940s Era

In the year 1939 when England and France hand in glove decided to rage war on Germany, the social dynamics of that decade suffered a setback. With the war on, everything from food to clothes was short in supply. Before the war and even after that, Paris was considered to be the haute couture capital of the world with Italy coming second in line. As these countries got engulfed in World War II, the fashion designing, fashion shows and apparel industry in general across Europe and United States took a blow. Rationing came into existence in these troubled times and the government pulled strings to control fashion and over-expenditure in order to prevent people from spending on luxurious things rather than basic necessary items. The government controlled the amount of fabric to be used in a dress and made some mandatory rules in the hope of saving the decreasing supplies.

As a result, the ladies had to forgo wearing silk stockings, and made do with bobby socks, stitching seams in the skirts or by just shaving off hair from their legs. Similarly, the gentlemen also sacrificed their elaborate double breasted suits and adopted single breasted suits with single pleated trousers. Wool, silk, leather, nylon, etc. were utilized for making uniforms, shoelaces, parachutes and other items needed in the war. As the times was tough, the men and women rose to the occasion and did not give up on war or fashion.

1940s Fashion Trends

Make do and mend was the philosophy of this era. As opposed to earlier times, the focus turned to lighter cloths with the introduction of many different fabric materials. Women preferred broader shoulders and padding for it was added in their clothing. With stockings being sparse, 1940s fashion saw women ingeniously drawing a line at the back of their legs, to give the impression that stockings were worn. Less material was used to make skirts and jackets, and hence they became shorter. A decade before, what was considered as outrageously shocking like women wearing trousers, became a commonplace event, though the trousers preferred by women were loose overalls or trousers with boots.

Heels was still adorned by the ladies with the improvisation of slight platforms. Swing skirts were much in demand in those times, with the floral prints dominating the designs during the early 1940s and geometrical patterns becoming a popular style statement of late 1940s fashion. When Paris and Milano were cut off from the rest of the world during the battles, United States fashion designer had to rely on their wits, instead of getting ‘inspired’ by their French and Italian counterparts, to create something out of the blue. They conjured up the sportswear which was ready to wear and practical for the women to don.

War had a similar ripple effect on 1940s fashion for men. The vest disappeared, and bright colored wide ties came into vogue. The zoot suit was another of the 1940s fashion trends which was mainly worn by the Afro-American and Mexican American young men in United States. The zoot suits were wide legged and high-waisted trousers with long coats. Wearing such an attire gave the men in the times of war much needed confidence but because of rationing and government restriction, such kind of garment was considered as outright rebellious and even unpatriotic.

1940s Hair Fashion and Makeup

From hats, makeup to cloths, 1940s fashion trends were drab and convenient, but the women in 1940s did not get discouraged due to the lack of amenities, they did one thing which women do best, that is, accessorize. They kept their long locks of hair and curled it to give a striking appearance. One of the vintage 1940s hairstyles was making rolls of the upper strands of the hair and fixing it with the help of bobby pins. The remaining hair was left open and curled from the ends. Girls used bright red lipsticks to draw attention to their face. Mascara became a must have item in the ladies purse, but interestingly the eyeliner was just applied on the upper lid of the eye.

As the war ceased, the austerity of the fashion world also came to an end. Femininity in the clothing style came back in to the picture and people rejoiced the victory by extravagantly dressing up and indulging themselves. Thus, the late 1940s fashion trends was a huge contrast to the clothing worn during early 1940s.

One comment

  1. Hello:

    I am having a 1940s wedding and the dress the woman is wearing on your website is the style I would like for my bridesmaids. Where can I find this dress?

    Thank you!

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