My niece still follows 1940’s fashion for its timeless elegance, sense of nostalgia, emphasis on quality, and versatility. Whether you are looking for a glamorous evening look or a practical daytime outfit, 1940s fashion offers something.
The 1940s was a revolutionary time for fashion. Fashion styles were drastically changed during this era due to the war effort and the subsequent victory. As a result, people adopted new silhouettes and materials that had not been seen before.
This article will explore everything you need to know about 1940s fashion styles, including how the war influenced them, what materials were used, and how they were shaped by popular culture.
Overview of 40s Fashion Trends
The 1940s were a decade heavily influenced by World War II, which was reflected in the fashion trends of the time. The clothing was practical and focused on functionality, with military-inspired elements such as utility jackets, trench coats, and jumpsuits.
Women’s fashion had a distinctly feminine and elegant touch, with tailored suits and dresses featuring cinched waists and padded shoulders. Nylon stockings were popular but rationed, leading to the rise of bare legs and ankle socks.
Accessories like gloves, hats, and scarves were essential to complete the look. The fashion trends of the 1940s reflected the challenging times, with practicality and functionality at the forefront.
What are the Popular Types of 40s Fashion Styles?
There were several popular types of fashion styles in the 1940s. One of the most iconic styles was the “victory suit,” a tailored suit with a fitted jacket and a knee-length skirt or pants, often made from wool or rayon.
Another popular style was the “swing dress,” a full-skirted dress with a nipped-in waist and often featuring polka dots or floral prints. Military-inspired styles, including utility jackets, trench coats, and jumpsuits, were popular.
Women also often wore turbans, berets, and pillbox hats as accessories. The “zoot suit” was famous for men, featuring high-waisted, wide-legged trousers and a long coat with padded shoulders. The 1940s fashion was characterized by practicality, elegance, and a touch of glamour.
The Key Features of 40s Women’s Fashion?
The practicality and elegance of the time influenced the critical features of 1940s women’s fashion. One of the most notable features was the emphasis on a feminine silhouette, which created the illusion of a nipped-in waist and wide hips.
This was often achieved through padded shoulders in jackets and dresses, full skirts, and cinched-in waistlines. Hemlines were generally below the knee, and dresses were usually made from lightweight fabrics like rayon or cotton.
Accessories were also a crucial part of 1940s women’s fashion, with gloves, hats, and scarves all playing an essential role in completing the look. Shoes were typically low-heeled and practical, with pumps and sandals being popular choices.
Due to rationing during the war, clothing was often made from simple fabrics, and colors were muted, with earth tones and darker shades being prevalent. However, there were still some glamorous touches, with sequins and beading used to add some sparkle to evening wear.
The key features of 1940s women’s fashion were practicality, femininity, and elegance, emphasizing creating a flattering silhouette through tailored garments and accessories.
The Inspirations of Fashion Trends in the 40s
The fashion trends of the 1940s were heavily influenced by the social and economic conditions of the time. The outbreak of World War II in 1939 had a significant impact on fashion, as resources such as fabrics and labor were redirected toward the war effort. This led to a more practical and helpful approach to clothing, with functional designs and fewer frills.
Regarding design inspiration, there were several influences on fashion during the 1940s. The styles of Hollywood movie stars, such as Rita Hayworth and Katherine Hepburn, were hugely popular and helped to shape fashion trends. Military uniforms also significantly impacted fashion, with elements such as epaulets and double-breasted jackets incorporated into civilian clothing.
In addition to these influences, the emergence of new fabrics and technologies also shaped fashion trends. Synthetic materials such as nylon and rayon became popular due to the shortage of natural fibers like cotton and silk. This led to new styles, such as the iconic “swing dress” with its full skirt and fitted waistline.
The fashion trends of the 1940s were inspired by a combination of practical considerations, Hollywood glamour, and military uniforms, resulting in a unique and distinctive style that continues to influence fashion today.
Famous Fashion Designers in the 40s
Several famous fashion designers were active in the 1940s, many of whom are still well-known today for their contributions to fashion. Some of the most notable designers from this era include:
- Christian Dior – Dior revolutionized women’s fashion with his “New Look” collection in 1947, which featured full skirts, cinched-in waists, and padded shoulders.
- Coco Chanel – Chanel continued to be a prominent figure in fashion during the 1940s, despite the outbreak of World War II. She is known for her classic designs, including the iconic Chanel suit.
- Elsa Schiaparelli – Schiaparelli was known for her bold and imaginative designs, incorporating surrealist elements into her clothing, such as the famous “lobster dress.”
- Norman Hartnell – Hartnell was a British designer who created elegant and sophisticated clothing for the royal family, including the iconic wedding gown of Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II) in 1947.
- Claire McCardell – McCardell was an American designer known for her casual and practical designs, including the “popover” dress and the ballet flat.
These designers and others like them played a significant role in shaping fashion trends during the 1940s, and their legacies continue to inspire and influence fashion designers today.
How to Incorporate 40s Style into Modern Fashion?
Incorporating 1940s style into modern fashion can be a fun and unique way to add a touch of vintage charm to your wardrobe. Here are some tips for how to do it:
Start with the silhouette – A nipped-in waist and full skirt or wide-legged trousers characterized the shape of 1940s fashion. Incorporating these elements into your outfits can be a great way to achieve a vintage look. Try pairing a high-waisted skirt or trousers with a fitted blouse or sweater.
Choose vintage – Inspired prints and patterns – Floral prints, polka dots, and stripes were all popular in the 1940s. Look for modern pieces that incorporate these vintage-inspired prints to add a touch of 1940s style to your wardrobe.
Accessorize with vintage – Inspired pieces – Accessories like hats, gloves, and scarves were all essential to 1940s fashion. Incorporating these vintage-inspired pieces into your modern outfits can be a great way to add some retro flair.
Mix vintage and modern pieces – Mixing vintage and contemporary pieces can create a unique and exciting look. Try pairing a vintage-inspired blouse or dress with stylish accessories like statement jewelry or bold shoes.
Experiment with hair and makeup – Hair and makeup were also essential to 1940s fashion. Experimenting with vintage-inspired hairstyles and makeup can be a great way to complete the look and add some extra vintage charm to your outfit.
Incorporating 1940s style into modern fashion is about taking inspiration from the past and putting your modern spin on it. Mixing vintage and contemporary pieces and experimenting with hair and makeup can create a unique and stylish look that pays homage to the iconic fashion trends of the 1940s.
Tips for Blending 40s Fashion Elements into Modern Outfits
Blending 1940s fashion elements into modern outfits can be a fun and creative way to add vintage flair to your wardrobe. Here are some tips for doing so:
Start with critical pieces – Incorporating classic 1940s pieces like a tailored blazer, high-waisted trousers, or a midi-length skirt into your outfit can create a retro feel without going over the top.
Mix vintage and modern pieces – Pairing vintage 1940s pieces with current details can create an exciting contrast and a unique look. For example, a vintage blouse can be paired with modern jeans or a vintage skirt with a stylish top.
Use accessories to complete the look – Adding vintage-inspired accessories like a beret, gloves, or a brooch can add some 1940s charm to your outfit. However, be careful not to go overboard with accessories, as this can make the company look costume-like.
Play with colors and prints – bold patterns, classic colors, and feminine florals characterized 1940s fashion. Incorporating these elements into your modern outfit can add a touch of vintage glamour.
Experiment with hair and makeup – Hair and makeup were essential to 1940s fashion, so adding vintage-inspired hair and makeup can help complete the look. For example, pin curls, victory rolls, or red lipstick can add some 1940s charm to your outfit.
Blending 1940s fashion elements into modern outfits is about taking classic pieces and making them your own. Mixing vintage and contemporary works and experimenting with accessories, colors, prints, and hair and makeup allows you to create a unique and stylish look that pays homage to the iconic fashion trends of the 1940s.
Hair Styles in 40s Fashion
The 1940s was a decade of iconic and varied hairstyles for women. Here are some of the most common hairstyles seen in 1940s fashion:
Victory Rolls – Victory Rolls were a popular hairstyle in the 1940s and were named after the rolls made by fighter planes during World War II. This style involves rolling the hair up and away from the face in a spiral shape, often on both sides of the head.
Pin Curls – Pin curls were another popular hairstyle in the 1940s. This style involved sectioning the hair and curling it tightly around the finger before securing it to the head with a bobby pin. The curls were left to set for several hours or overnight, resulting in a tight, bouncy curl.
Pageboy – The Pageboy was a sleek, sophisticated hairstyle popular in the 1940s. This style involved cutting the hair into a straight, blunt bob that curled under at the ends.
Gibson Roll – The Gibson Roll was a classic updo hairstyle popular in the 1940s. This style involved rolling the hair up and over itself at the back of the head, creating a large, rounded roll often accessorized with a ribbon or flower.
S-Wave – The S-wave was a popular style in the 1940s that involved creating soft, “S”-shaped waves in the hair. This style was often achieved by setting the hair in large rollers or using a waving iron.
The 1940s hairstyles were often glamorous, feminine, and sophisticated, focusing on classic shapes and elegant updos. These iconic hairstyles continue to be popular and have influenced hair trends for generations.
Makeups for 40s Style
Makeup was essential to the 1940s fashion look, with many women adopting a glamorous, feminine style. Here are some of the most common makeup styles seen in 1940s fashion:
Red Lipstick – Bold, red lipstick was a staple of 1940s fashion. This look was achieved using a matte or semi-matte lipstick in red, burgundy, or deep plum shades.
Winged Eyeliner – Winged eyeliner was another iconic 1940s makeup look. This style involved creating a thin line along the upper lash line that extended outwards and upwards at the corner of the eye.
Natural-Looking Brows – In the 1940s, eyebrows were kept relatively natural-looking, with a slight arch and a fuller shape. This look was achieved using a brow pencil or powder to fill in gaps and create definitions.
Blush – Soft, rosy cheeks were a popular makeup look in the 1940s. This look was achieved using a cream or powder blush in shades of pink or peach, applied to the apples of the cheeks, and blended upwards towards the temples.
Matte Foundation – Matte foundation was the preferred base for 1940s makeup looks, focusing on creating a smooth, flawless complexion. This look was achieved using a matte foundation or powder to even out skin tone and create a matte finish.
The 1940s makeup was about creating a glamorous, polished look emphasizing classic beauty and femininity. Bold red lips, winged eyeliner, natural-looking brows, and rosy cheeks were all critical elements of this iconic makeup style.
Accessorizing for 40s Style
Accessories were an essential part of 1940s fashion and helped to complete the overall look. Here are some of the most common accessories seen in 1940s style:
Hats – Hats were a staple accessory in the 1940s and came in various styles, including wide-brimmed hats, berets, fedoras, and pillbox hats. These accessories were often worn tilted at an angle and were embellished with flowers, feathers, and other decorative details.
Gloves – Gloves were another essential accessory in the 1940s and were worn for practical and fashionable reasons. Gloves were made from various materials, including leather, silk, and cotton, and came in multiple lengths, from short wrist gloves to elbow-length gloves.
Jewelry – Jewelry was an essential accessory in 1940s fashion, focusing on statement pieces that added glamour and sophistication to the overall look. Popular jewelry styles included chunky bracelets, oversized cocktail rings, and long, layered necklaces.
Scarves – Scarves were a versatile accessory in the 1940s and could be worn in various ways, including around the neck, in the hair, or tied around the waist. Scarves were made from multiple materials, including silk, cotton, and wool, and came in various colors and prints.
Handbags – Handbags were an essential accessory in 1940s fashion and came in various styles, including structured clutches, and shoulder bags. These accessories were often embellished with decorative details like embroidery, beading, or sequins.
Accessories were an essential element of 1940s fashion and helped to add polish and sophistication to the overall look. Hats, gloves, jewelry, scarves, and handbags were all popular accessories that helped to complete the iconic 1940s style.