1940s: Rationed fashion

 Women´s 1940s fashion (source: Wikimedia)The development of fashion was greatly influenced by WW2. The war propaganda was against romantic looks of 1930s Hollywood robes, corsets and voluminous skirts were seen as something oldfashioned, redundant and inappropriately extravagant. The new fashion style dictated simple dresses that were often made of fabrics that were quilted or had encouraging slogans printed on them. Because of the lack of some materials and hard work, women were allowed to wear trousers on the daily basis.

In this decade it happened for the first time in the history that music entwined with fashion. Singing trios were very popular in 1940s, remember those pictures often depicting a blonde, a brunette and a black-haired woman? That´s what I´m talking about! And the dancing styles boogie-woogie and swing had a huge impact on the fashion and created its own subculture fashion.

During the warfare, clothes were rationed, because the import was interrupted. The soldier´s uniforms influenced the clothes made for civilians. It was a way of patriotism and civilian´s support of the fighting soldiers. Women´s jackets were tiny in the waist, which pretended them from looking like men´s clothes. The old clothes were usually resewed in new pieces or mended. Therefore quilting came into fashion.

Skirts became shorter, just under the knee, because of the lack of fabrics. The lack of buttons enabled the birth of a wrap dress and those who knew how to crochet and knit created their new clothes this way. Women often hid their neglected hair under scarves and turbans. The covering of hair was also practical, because it prevented the hair from entangling into machines in factories. The WW2 was also the trigger of standardization of clothing sizes in the USA and the ready-to-wear clothes were created.

1943 dress (source: Wikimedia)
Queen Elizabeth II (source: Wikimedia)




  1. Also, hairstyles became more elaborate because they had a limited resource of beauty products, stockings and with such plain clothes, hair was done up much more when it was out of a headscarf

    1. True, but these were hard times, so I believe the hair was done more elaborately only for some special events.

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  3. Very interesting! I love fashion from the 40's :)

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