1940s clothing and trends in America from 1940 to 1947 were influenced by the pressures of World War II. Victory suits, padded blazers and pants were worn by women. Wool, nylon and silk was outlawed, so rayon and gabardine became popular materials.’40s American fashion was about masculine styling of severe suiting, sharp and somber-colored dresses and the era’s “make do and mend” motif.
Bag the Jewels Vintage founder Caroline Henney reflects on the past through a vintage mirror once owned by her mother and now in her collection since she passed away 24 years ago. Her mother, who served in Britain’s ATS (Auxiliary Territorial Service) during World War II in the 1940s, appreciated lipstick not just as a beauty booster, but a source of confidence and morale as influenced by her experiences in war torn England.
’40s fashion during World War Two wasn’t about dressing like a sexy pin-up girl in a halter top and high-waisted bikini with a red lip and flower in your hair’s “Victory Curls.” To help show the reality of fashion from 1940 to 1946, I gathered photos from the US Library of Congress Flickr page to show how women truly dressed during this patriotic American time.
I worked with Hinesite Vintage to model 5 ’40s dresses representative of the era’s trends. From military style to country chic to novelty print design and more, these dresses possess unique attributes that make them quintessential pieces of their time.
Keep reading after the jump to see the 5 styles I think best represent the ’40s, and to see which one best fits your vintage-inspired life!
The absence of designers and wartime restrictions forced women to creatively adapt and improvise when it came to choosing their wardrobe in the 1940s. Despite restrictions, awesome trends still emerged from the decade and inspired quintessential pieces in the modern woman’s closet today. Keep reading to see how 5 modern ladies incorporated ’40s fashion into their everyday looks, and how these ‘40s trends were born!