1940s fashion for women was a decade of change from simplicity to extravagance, due to WWII and its end. Read on for more on war fashions and ’40s hairstyles.
On September 3, 1939 England and France declared war on Germany for invading Poland.
June 14, 1940 Paris fell into German control.
On December 8, 1941 the United States officially entered World War II.
Life drastically changed for men and women everywhere, including within the fashion world.
1940s Fashion For Women
At the beginning of the war fabric was at a shortage. Stanley Marcus, the apparel consultant to the War Production Board, stated that American designers had a duty to design pieces that would last and remain stylish for more than one season.
American designers began introducing more separates that women could co-ordinate and therefore create multiple looks with. Outfits became practical but women kept their style as they mixed and matched the separates.
Dresses and skirts became slightly shorter and much more simpler as fabric was limited. Padded shoulders became popular for the work force, as did button front blouses for women.
Women at home who wanted casual wear chose to wear simple housedresses, shorts during the summer and playsuits in cotton. Designers were using more easy care fabrics than ever before. Fabrics such as wool, cotton, linen, and synthetics were used for apparel and accessories.
Colors for women’s fashion were reminiscent of army colors during the early and mid 1940s; greys, blues, bottle green, and shades of brown.
Shoes popular at the time were oxfords, sturdy pumps, and leather sandals. Heels were shorter than in previous years and women went for comfort and versatility when choosing footwear.
On the other end of the fashion spectrum swimwear went glamorous, perhaps due to the feeling when at the beach it was the one time to relax. Swimsuits were tailored; tummy control panels were sewn in and boning included to create the popular 40s hourglass figure.
Towards the end of the 1940s undergarments were designed as separates. Out went the corset and in came the bra and girdle. Designers began using wire in bras and nylon stockings made a comeback.
In 1947, with the war ended, a designer named Christian Dior (virtually unknown at this point) came out with his first collection. The collection would later become known as “The New Look.” It featured pinched in waists, long full skirts, and natural shoulders.
1940s Hats for Women
Due to the material shortages during the beginning of the ’40s, new hats were smaller in size. Recycling old style hats also became popular as money became restricted during the war.
1940s Hairstyles for Women
During the war more women went to work in factories and on farmlands; jobs that were once considered men’s work were now women’s territory. One thing to change with women, appearance wise, was their hair. Safety was priority so headscarves were worn to stop hair falling into their faces, eyes or even machinery.
Hair was cut shorter or pinned up; however, this did not mean style was sacrificed. Small curls were formed when pinned up and shorter styles were always neat and well maintained.
Women in the ’40s sacrificed a lot, especially during the war years; however, 1940s fashion for women was still incredibly stylish, even as times changed.