1940’s Fashion

1940s-fashion-dressAs the 1940s decade began, we were still experiencing the poor social and economic conditions tied to the 1930s. As an example, only 1 in 7 people had a telephone and we were still trying to pull our way out of the Great Depression. To understand fashion of the forties, you must realize the importance that World War II had on life during the early part of the decade, and how it changed fashion in the years beyond.

Briefly, the war brought about regulations in the clothing industry and also restricted the use of natural fibers. We turned to man-made materials and were regulated to use less yardage. Even nylon stockings disappeared in 1943 (the horror!) American designers were cut off from their French influences. Women were going to work. More utility type clothing, more conservative clothing. We were asked to use less, buy less. Anything extravagant was viewed as unpatriotic. It was during this time that the concept of separates and coordinating parts was introduced, to make it feel like you had more outfits than you actually had. Women wearing slacks, once considered scandalous and fit only for the boudoir, gained popularity. Clothing had become functional (yawn) and practical (yawn).

After the war ended in 1945, people were ready to cut loose and let go of the restraints imposed during the first half of the decade. Building on that desire, the “New Look”  for women featuring a softer, more feminine style with long flowing skirts and a nipped waist, officially began in 1947 with designer Christian Dior.

During the war, men’s suits lost their vests, pocket flaps and trouser cuffs. After the war, clothes were full-cut again, with double-breasted, longer jackets and wider trousers. Shirts and coats came in a range of colors and hand-painted silk ties ran the range from elegant to exotic – featuring geometric designs or pin-up girls. Everyone wore a tie, where you could express your individuality.

Read more about women’s fashions, with photos HERE

Read more about men’s fashions, with photos HERE

VTG 1940s McCALLS MAGAZINE Fashion Sewing Pattern Catalog Womens Interest 1941

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VTG 1940s WWII McCALLS MAGAZINE Fashion Sewing Pattern Catalog Womens 1942

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VTG 1940s WWII McCALLS MAGAZINE Fashion Sewing Pattern Catalog Womens 1939

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Below are sample clothing prices during the 1940s: 

Simulated Leather Handbags $2.98 California 1944

Mens raincoats $7.99 South Carolina 1949

Mens Sweat Shirt $1.14 South Carolina 1942

Mens Gaberdine Slacks $4.95   Ohio   1945

Nylon Hose $1.65 New York 1947

Ladies Sandal $6.95 New York 1948

Girls Blouses $2.95   Wisconsin    1948

Ladies Bra From $1.25 Wisconsin 1948

Ladies Gloves $1.99 Wisconsin 1948

Mens heavy duty Work Shoes $3.95 Wisconsin 1946

Mens and Ladies House Slippers 95 cents Wisconsin 1946

Cap & mitten sets, $1.48 New Jersey 1946

Men’s shirt, $3.70 New Jersey 1946

Men’s slippers, $1.98 New Jersey 1946

Women’s skirt, wool $5.40 New Jersey 1946

Woman’s suit, wool $21.00 New Jersey 1946