1940’s fashion – Wardrobe Plan – How to dress accurately

Overview of a well dressed 1940’s woman –

Suit for Church, Street, business and Travel 1940s
Suit for Church, Street, business and Travel.
Now see the lavishly illustrated Concise History of 1940s fashion !!

1940’s fashion – Wardrobe Overview

How often do you find your eyes enviously drawn to an attractively dressed woman in a pleasing frock, or suit, and who keeps her hair ‘ just right’, her nails beautifully manicured, her makeup simple but appealing, her shoes fashionable, and above all has an air of graceful and feminine confidence about her? It would be nice to be that woman and have other women gazing at you enviously instead, wouldn’t it? If you are a 1940’s fashion enthusiast and you want to be ‘ just perfect ‘ in your chosen style, here’s some vintage pointers for the everyday woman of the mid to late 1940’s.

 An attractive woman
1. Is appropriately dressed for every occasion.
2.Has good posture and attractive figure
3.Keeps herself well groomed.

1940’s Fashion Film – How to Dress and Makeup

How to dress appropriately every day.

Appropriate clothes are suitable to the occasion, to the season, and to the time of day.

Street Clothes

These are general purpose fashionable attire worn to the office, when shopping, out on daily visits, or to college or when travelling.Skirts and pretty tunics are particularly satisfactory. Dresses should be long sleeved and high necked. Hats should be made from material that will not spot in the rain or snow, and should have a protective brim. Coats should be simply cut and trimmed and shoes should have sturdy low heels.

Skirts and Blouses in the 1940s
 Skirts and Blouses

Shoes – for street wear are practical: They may be oxfords or pumps, depending on the current style, but they
should be of low heels and fit up round the foot to give all day comfort. They can be in several colors. Dark wine red, dark blue or green, and try to match your jacket, cardigan or coat. Black shoes may be worn with black or blue coats and with dresses of black, blue, red or green. Brown shoes may be worn with brown or tan coats, and dresses of green, tan, red or brown.

 1940’s Shoes

Hosiery– for street wear hosiery should not be sheer, fragile hose. Current styles indicate what colors of hosiery are suitable. Pale to tan stockings are correct for most occasions and will show off a good pair of legs and a pretty skirt or frock.

Jewelry – Do please be inconspicious. A class ring or pin and simple beads to harmonise with the costume.

Gloves – must harmonise with everything else you wear and be durable.

Dress Clothes


Are those worn to afternoon occasions, like parties, receptions, formal dinners etc.Such dresses typically will made of rayon, silk prints, and crepes, taffeta, organdy and voile. These of course are less simple than street clothes and frequently have curved lines, flares, ruffles, and more elaborate trimming. They can have lower necks and short sleeves than street clothes and can brighter in color or plain black.

Sweaters and Afternoon Frocks.

A simple shift dress or pleated skirt worn with a pretty cardigan or wool sweater.


Dress shoes – may be made of patent leather, kid, or suede and designed as Oxfords, Pumps, or sandals with dainty instep straps. Their heels are of medium height. they sometimes are a perfect match for your dress.

 Women trying on dress shoes in 1942 – Source LIFE

Hosiery– for dress wear are fully fashioned stockings, tan and sheer in texture. Your figure may influence your choice of colors for your stockings. For example if you are short and wish to appear taller, wear the same color from head to heels, including stockings to match your dress.If you want to look shorter, wear light toned stockings to match your light colored dress.

 Fully Fashioned Stockings 1949

Gloves, jewelry and purse should be lightly decorative and in keeping with the spirit of the rest of your costume.

Typical Afternoon Outfit -1947

Dressing for Housework.

Garments may be attractive, simply made, loosly fitted and washable. Do not wear wool clothes in the kitchen as they absorb odours. Slacks are also very handy, and a neat turban to keep your hair tidy and clean.

The 1940s Wardrobe Checklist -

The 1940s Wardrobe Checklist – 

Occasions – street | college | Shops | Office | Business | Travel

Dress – simple, conservative in color.
Shoes – Oxford or strap. Practical and low heel. Leather or reptile skins.
Hosiery– Sturdy cotton, rayon
Coats– simply cut and tailored.
Hat– Practical with brim
Gloves– Heavy leather, plain pull on.
Accessories– Leather purse, plain handkercief, only necessary jewelry.

Occasions – Church | Visits | Movies

Dress – conservative
Shoes – Oxfords, low or medium heels
Hosiery – Nylon, silk or fine lisle
Coat – tailored
Hat – Small | Pill box
Gloves – Suede, kid, mocha, chamois or fabric

Occasions – Spectator sport

Dress – Gayer colors
Shoes – Same as for street
Hose – Plain or fifured depending on the season
Coat – Very plain, scarfs
Hat – Wide brim hat
Gloves -Same as for street
Accessories – same as for street wear, purse of leather,linen or cotton

Occasions – Dress | Party | Afternoon

Dress – Dainty, neck somewhat low, long or short sleeves, finer, softer materials.
Shoes – Pumps or strap, kid, satin, suede and in medium heels.
Hosiery – harmonise with chosen dress, sheer hose with dainty light dress, semi sheer with heavier fabrics
Coat – Simple or elaborate to harmonise with dress.
Hat – Color to harmonise with dress and coat, small, medium or large.
Gloves – Suede, glace kid, or fabric, white or color to match dress.
Accessories – Kid purse, as much jewelry as desired to accent costume, handkerchief to harmonise with dress.

How nice you look Margaret !
1940’s Day Dresses

The ultimate secret of correct dress is wearing the right things together, and of course you have to have taste.
The secret is to have enough, but not too much, variety and contrast to make your look interesting.
Less is more.

1940’s Fashion Film – What Not to Wear !

Edited from Elizabeth Todds ‘ Clothes for Girls ‘ 1947 – GlamourDaze 2010.

That’s all !

For the definitive breakdown on 1940’s makeup styles, see the Vintage Makeup Guide
The 1940s Make-up & Beauty Guide – Instant Download.

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7 thoughts on “1940’s fashion – Wardrobe Plan – How to dress accurately”

  1. I’d like to know where you got this information from please. Some of it doesn’t quite sit right with what I have learnt but maybe my overviews are too limited.

  2. Excellent overview. Thank you for putting this together and the pictures really illustrate the point. That's what I love about researching 1940's- you can still find great photos and real clothes!

  3. "The ultimate secret of correct dress is wearing the right things together, and of course you have to have taste.
    The secret is to have enough, but not too much, variety and contrast to make your look interesting.
    Less is more."

    Oh dear, I am a big fat FAIL. I love more is more!

  4. Great post! Love the Fashion Films. I'm sure I could definitely be used as a model for "What Not to Wear"! :-)

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