Decades of Style: The 1940s

The 1940s is a great decade for style, which is probably why it is one of the most sought after era for retro vintage style dresses. The 1940s was a decade when there was a good mix of comfort and glamour in the styles available. Ladies wore specific outfits for specific times of the day e.g. cocktail hour, but a lot of the styles look modern today as a lot of our fashion today is heavily influenced by the fashion of this era.

Dresses in the 1940s were the staple item of every wardrobe. The 1940s saw a surge in creativity the likes of which had never been seen before. In the past women had tended to rely on dressmakers, but in the 1940s the Fashion Designers started to distinguish themselves with the use of luxurious fabrics and modern designs.

We can’t talk about fashion in the 1940s without mentioning the War though. The Second World War (1939 – 1945) of course had an effect on fashion, with rationing having an almost devastating effect on textile manufacture. Women tended to favour suits over dresses during the war period, but this all changed once the war was over. One interesting thing that happened to fashion when the war was on was the impact it had on colour. It was almost as if ladies were reacting against the grim times they found themselves in by wearing the brightest colours they could find! During the early 1940s, popular colours included hot pink, red, sapphire blue and emerald green.

After the war, Christian Dior introduced the New Look which focused on a wide skirt making use of the large amounts of fabric that were now available now that rationing was over! Ladies started to dress up for evening events too – with the short evening dress becoming very popular. The length of the dress put the focus on the leg, ankle and shoes – and so decorated stockings also became very popular. There seemed to be a huge amount of options for ladies when it came to fabrics too – with everything from white lace, pink satin, to black starched mousseline being used. After the restrictions of rationing, fashion went a bit nuts!

In the 1940s, ladies were very feminine and elegant, and almost always wore gloves and usually a pair that perfectly matched their outfits! Fur and animal skins were very popular items to wear too, including crocodile skin purses, lambskin linings for jackets, and leather sleeves on coats. In fact, I don’t think any animal was off limits!

Some popular designers in the 1940s were Christian Dior, Anne Klein, Pierre Balmain and Jean Dresses. The Hollywood stars that ladies looked up to were: Joan Crawford, Ava Gardner, Bette Davis, Doris Day, Rita Heyworth, Katherine Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Ginger Rogers, and Ingrid Bergman – all glamour personified.

If you want to get the 1940s, look then check out the wide range of vintage clothing online available at Little Wings Factory at

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