1940 Fashion

Now that the Christmas season is here, what could be more elegant and distinctive than vintage 1940 fashion?

1940 Fashion

 Lets explores 1940s fashion, an era marred by war and rationing but  it was a decade away from the glitz and glamour of the 1930s but wartime women did their utmost to remain stylish and elegant in any way that they could whilst contributing to the war effort in the first-half of the 1940s.

World War II meant that every woman who could, had to work - whether it be in a munitions factory, as land girls or in the local hospitals.

War combined with rationing, meant that the lack of materials available for such luxuries as clothing were restricted. Many women were issued with uniforms and were encouraged to "make do or mend" for their every-day clothes.

Daytime fashion during this decade was quite bleak and drab and definitely did not follow on from the previous vibrant elegant styles of the 1930s.

1940 Fashion

 Uniforms played a big part by influencing military style detail and the clothing became more functional than glamorous. Waists were tighter fitting, skirts became knee length in order for easier movement and shoulders were padded.

 Trousers became popular for the first time with women wanting comfort especially if they were working. The 'Siren Suit' became a welcome and practical outfit, as it was a blouson top and trousers all in one, and was often worn when air raids took place during the Blitz.

1940 Fashion

Rayon of light

Despite rationing, fabric itself was easier to come by than ready-made garments so lots of the women during the 1940s began to make their own clothes out of any fabric that they could find, including curtains, dish clothes and blankets.

 Silk was not available on the open market as this was used to make parachutes during the war but the man-made material 'rayon' was easily obtainable and simple to work with.

 It also had the advantage of being bright with floral patterns and had a silk-like feel which made a fantastic alternative to the drab dark colored uniforms.  

The key to fashion in the 40s was the ability to alter clothes and adjust them to bring them more up to date, especially for   evening dresses.

1940 Fashion
After the occupation of France in 1940, big couture houses such as Dior and Chanel closed, export of clothing from France was not allowed and even the magazine Vogue ceased to be put into production.

 Women began to create their own stylish clothing for socializing in the evenings; they adapted existing dresses or created simple designs.

The sweet-heart neckline was popular as it took less material and could jazz up a simple dress especially when accessorized with jewelry.

Stockings were practically non-existent unless supplied by the American servicemen and their rarity added to their appeal. Women used cosmetics to draw a line up the back Of the legs to give the effect of the stocking seam or even used gravy browning to tint bare legs.  

Hats off

Millinery however, was not restricted and there was an abundance of hats available although these were deemed a little   impractical when working so the turban became a popular form of headgear.

1940 Fashion

Small box hats that perched on the head, usually at an angle, added a touch of elegance to the outfit.

Gloves were also popular, especially at evening dances and women frequently wore them either during the day with a smart stylised tailored suit or in the evenings to complement an evening gown.

After the War, towards the end of the decade, more elegant fashions began to filter through and material became more readily available. The styles became quite frivolous with narrow waists and large full skirts.

 Coco Chanel, Elsa Schiaparelli, Christian Dior and Cristobal Balenciaga reintroduced elegance and glamour with Dior creating his famous 'New Look' in 1947 with its abundance of style and wealth of luxurious material.

1940 Fashion

Decoration was used once more to create more famine and flattering designs but these were still difficult for less wealthy women to buy off the peg so they had to rely on watching their favorite female movie starts like Ginger Rogers gracing the screens in beautiful gowns at the movies.

In the modern world, vintage fashion has become all the rage, worn by top models, and, with Christmas parties around the corner, the 1940 fashion of chintz floral dresses are perfect for dancing the night away while the elegant stylized

suits with box hats teamed with long gloves would make the ultimate party outfit for someone who dares to be different - with style.

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