A lovely woman came into my shop the other day, she was looking for a 1940’s dress for a 40’s themed party. It was for a 40th birthday and the imaginative host thought a 40’s theme was much more creative than the obvious 70’s. She equally felt it was more glamorous and so it was, decision made and it gave the men a chance to dress in Army Officer suits , keeping everyone happy!……We women do seem to have a weakness for a man in uniform.
Now To Find a Dress….. the hard part. A 1940’s evening dress OR even a Tea dress are hard to come-by , they are highly sought after and not surprising really as they are gorgeous.
So What Do They Look Like? The war influenced everything including fashion , rationing, paring down and the militarian look was in. The “Utility Scheme” emphasised functional clothing with minimum decoration yet this period was very elegant and Upon examination you can see how this was achieved.
It was all about Square Shoulders with light padding with ruched stitching across the shoulder bone and tucked sleeves , all this emphasised and gave the illusion of a tiny waist. Collars and Cuffs allowed designers to showcase exact cutting and precision tailoring. The skilled work of Pattern Cutters, Seamstresses and machinists now were highly valued and became involved in life or death jobs of making “Our Boys” parachutes. Knee length skirts with pleats or simple panels of material that would move andc change in appearance with the wearers movements were creative methods employed to compensate for material rationing . Materials were simple and pure, local and accessible like wools, linens & gaberdines. Colours were muted and suits became the order of the day for the new work force of women allowing them to look elegant yet be functional. Coats became more of an nessessity given the change in womens roles and activities. Hats became fashionable as they were indulgent yet maintained the traditional elegance and conservation of the period. Hats were worn with suits , dresses and coats , they were small but statement pieces completing an Demure but strong Feminine silhouette.
Here is a typical look of the 40’s……..