1940’s fashion – Womens Dress Code in the War Years

1940s Clothing – Women’s Dress and Style

1940s Utility Fashion - Norman Hartnell Designer

Now see the lavishly illustrated concise history of 1940s women fashion !!

Click on image to visit

Also you can read a free e-publication World War Two Fashion – by Tia Craig . Just click on image below to download direct to your smartphone,tablet or desktop.

1940s World-War-Fashion-influence - Glamourdaze

Welcome to the main hub to several entertaining posts on 1940s fashion for women: – dress codes during and after the war, hairstyles, make-up looks etc.

Search for all our 1940s era posts from the top menu or click on the recommended links below for delicious and beautifully illustrated articles on all aspects of women’s fashion and beauty in the 1940′s.

Top 1940’s Women’s Fashion and Dress Posts.

The Easy Guide to 1940s Women’s Dress and Style
Vintage Swimwear of the 1940’s.

1940’s women’s hairstyles.
New York Women’s Fashion n the late 1940’s.
1940’s fashion – How to wear Fully Fashioned Stockings.
A Young Woman’s Wardrobe Plan 1947.
Betty’s Winter Wardrobe Plan 1948.
1940’s Wedding Dress Fashions.
1940’s Vintage Makeup Guide.
What Makeup did women really wear in the 1940’s?
The Complete 1940’s Makeup Guide and History.
1940’s Fashion – Women’s Dress Style after the War
1940s fashion – Four White Collar Girl wardrobes in 1940

The 1940’s Silhouette.

Broad padded square shoulders, trim waist and hips, with shoulder length curled hair. See The 1940’s Silhouette

1940s Fashion - Womens Dress Code during the War
1940s Fashion - Womens Dress Code during the War

The 1940’s silhouette above from a 1940 issue of Woman, suggests that women take into account their ‘real’ body shapes. Some of the descriptions like ” Matrons Bulge” are hilarious.
Below a page from John Peacocks 20th Century Fashion, gives a clear guide to how the silhouette developed in the first half of the 1940’s.

 1940’s Fashion Key Features.

Whether it was a dress,sleeveless sweater, cardigan, silk dressing gown or bodice, the padded or puffed shoulder was the dominant look. Originally made popular in the mid to late 1930’s by designer Elsa Schiaparelli and actress Joan Crawford , it now defines the look of the 1940’s woman.

Click to enlarge>


Bodice Top or Dress

Traditionally a two piece garment sewn together. Popular 1940’s bodices had padded or puffed
shoulders with Long or short sleeves.

High round, sweetheart, small collars.

1940’s Shoe Style.
Oxfords, Pumps and Sandals were the order of the day. Visit the Complete guide to 1940’s women’s shoes

1940s shoes

1940s womens shoes

Inset, short or long, puff.

The War Years – Ration Fashion in the 1940s.

In all countries involved in the conflict, fashion houses either closed, or worked for their governments. In Britain – Designer Norman Hartnell  speedily produced designs which were mass producible – yet colorful and feminine.

1940s Utility Fashion - women - Norman Hartnell Designer

In France, most of the leading couture houses like Chanel and Schiaparelli shut during the occupation and by default, the rise in consumer friendly and affordable fashions took off in the USA.

1940’s Hosiery

Nylon hosiery was rationed in wartime. There was a big drive to hand over your nylon stockings to the authorities. Nylon was used for everything from parachutes to the nose cones of bombs. Whilst American women at home went without, the US army issued American soldiers on their way to Europe with Nylons to woo British and French women with.

By all accounts it worked ! In 1946 the sale of nylon stockings went through the roof. During the austerity years of the war – the make do and mend era, the lack of nylons had women on both sides of the Atlantic resorting to leg cosmetics,  painted stockings , also called liquid stockings . The drawing in of the all important seams being the difficult final touch!


The 1940s War Hairstyle.

This charming film from our YouTube vintage fashion archive shows Veronica Lake demonstrating how a girl should tie up her hair in the factory.

The 1940’s Skirt.
Knee-length, flared, straight, single pleat plaid skirts.

Image courtesy Life Magazine Archive

Fabric used in the 1940’s.
Wool, cotton, linen, easy-care synthetics.

Limited buttons, contrast color collars and cuffs, patch pockets

1940s Colors
Subdued, blue grey, bottle green, donkey brown.

1940s Accessories.
Tiny hats, large bags, shoes with high thick heels and some wooden soles.

Now read Miss Ratherly Stern’s lessons on 1940s glamour:

1940’s fashion – A Woman’s Guide to Posture.
 1940’s Fashion – A Vintage Guide to being Glamourous.
You can download direct to your device a fabulous 1940s Wartime Women Guides Pack.

1940s American Wartime Womens Guide Pack

Sharing is caring!

28 thoughts on “1940’s fashion – Womens Dress Code in the War Years”

  1. Just got done watching a few World War 2 era films, and realized how elogant the women dressed. I feel like women, on average, wore considerably classier clothing than women today – maybe that’s just me.

  2. A Wonderful Blog. Helps me get the feel of an era I have never experienced. Thank you for creating this website. Magical.

  3. i like her sensible shoes. Bring back more silly clothes. they make me smile when they fall over. i like bm bm biscuits. i want them now. my face is now angry. I am carpet today. I cant read.

  4. I'm starting off in a WWII reenactment group, and your page has been invaluable for putting my outfits together (I'm in the "Homefront Auxiliary"). :) I especially like the information about nail color and make up! The most difficult thing to find, unfortunately, is 40s style undergarments to help get that silhouette! I've bookmarked your blog and look forward to exploring more of it!

  5. mm…. I just wanted to ask, if someone tried to wear like in the 40's, you know, change all her wardrobe. Cause i want to do it, bu I don't know if it's difficult, maybe now they don't make vintage clothes or anyting

  6. If i could go back to any decade, this would be the one!! I love their clothes, swimsuits and accessories!! this was truely amazing! nice work :D

  7. Cool clothes they are very different from what people wear today!! I think that was a very good blog!! Like it alot

  8. i love these close their old styles it just makes you wish you were there designing them going shopping for new clothing and those coke~a~cola was amzing back then i've heard it's all just very fasanating to me,i just love everthing like thats.

  9. I'm a 13 year old girl. I think neon skinny jeans neon shirts, bright glasses, Vans, and striaight hair is the way 2 go…..you can never go wrong with studs. Espcially stud bracelets or rainbow studed belts. Purple is the new black girls. =)

  10. Terrific list, there is such an element of practicality to many of these pieces, yet they still managed to be so elegant, feminine and timeless.

    Wishing you a beautiful Monday & week ahead, sweetie!
    ♥ Jessica

Comments are closed.