1940’s Fashion – Housewifes Daily Routine

A typical day of a 1940’s housewife

The 1940’s was great era for fashion and glamour, and during the war – it seemed to herald a new age for women’s freedom, but from 1946  – women who were starting out as a housewife for the first time, discovered that there was a strict gender biased code which dictated that the model wife was expected to effortlessly fill the roles of glamorous mum, cook, laundress, cleaner, dishwasher, nurse and finally hostess.

Effectively – women were demoted from home manager to labourer . This nightmarish PleasantvilleStepford Wife scenario was to remain well into the 1960’s.

See the Concise Illustrated History of 1940s Women’s Fashion – 1940 to 1949

6.00- Nurse baby
6.45- Fix breakfast for herself and John
7.15- John and Marjorie enjoy time alone before wakening kids

A typical 1940s breakfast – Life

7.45- Breakfast for all
8.00- Husband John to work
– wash dishes -clean downstairs-call grocers
9.00- Bathe baby – make beds – clean upstairs

Making the beds -1946-Life

10.30- Nurse baby
11.00- Fix lunch

11.30- Lunch for Shaun and Rusty
12.00- John home – Lunch

1940’s Lunch at home -image-Life

1.00 –  John back to work – naps for the boys – wash dishes – nap for Marjorie
2.30 – Nurse baby
2.45 – Clean living room

Housechores -1940’s -Life

5.00- Fruit juice for baby – fix supper
5.30- Supper for Shawn, Rusty
6.00- John home – baths for Shawn and Rusty.
6.30- Shawn and Rusty in bed
7.00- Dress for dinner – yep – you dressed before cooking the meal.
7.15- Cocktail with John
7.30- Fix dinner
8.00- Dinner with John

9.00- Wash dishes
10.30- Nurse baby
10.45- Personal bath – luxury !

11.00- Bed
And just to put it all in perspective – here’s an amazing picture – again courtesy of the fabulous Life archive.

Housewife Marjorie McWeeney stands amongst a symbolic display of a  full week’s housework for a typical 1940’s housewife. Labour includes 35 beds to be made, 750 items of glass & china, 400 pieces of silverware to wash, 174 lbs. of food to prepare, and 250 pieces of  laundry.
It’s a wonder she has time to put on her makeup.
Images courtesy of Life Magazine

You can download beautiful original vintage 1940’s make-up and beauty guides now.


  1. I have to agree with Hestia…and ask: How did she get anything done when baby was screaming because he/she was hungry? I’m a breastfeeding mom and if I don’t feed my baby (and I’ve had two) every 2 hours, he’s screaming to eat. (She feeds him every 4 hours and 5 1/2 hours after the dinner feeding!) What did she do with the screaming baby when she was making beds, cleaning the living room?