After The Great Depression 1930s, it’s time for the fourth episode of the retro fashion saga: the 1940s! This decade started very sober in the shadow of World War II. Clothing had to be practical. Besides that, a lot of fabrics were not available during war, which had a great impact on the fashion industry in the early 1940s. Fashion was literally a reflection of the war with colors as black, navy, military green and other dark colors.
After the war, the fashion industry wasn’t immediately revived. Actually it took a while to find that feminine look that every woman was looking for after years of the “practical working look”. In the early years, the daily fashion wear was loose and easy. But where there is a will, there is a way. In 1947, Christian Dior introduced “The new look”, including full skirts and “waist hugging” jackets. That new look had a great impact on late 1940s fashion and redefined post-war woman femininity. Overall, the 1940s fashion era was dominated by squared shoulders, narrow hips and skirts/dresses below the knee and ofcourse….hats and gloves.
Although fashion comes and goes, several items from the 1940s were definitely a keeper in women fashion. Pants anyone? They haven’t been out of fashion ever since the 1940s. Then we have the nylon stockings (which you probably bought several times, because those runs in your stockings are unfortunately also a keeper). Before war, stockings were made of silk. During war, silk became rare and very expensive which led to a shortage in stockings until the discovery of nylon. In fact, women used to draw a line or their legs for the “fake” seamed stockings effect. Nylon was used in the production for parachutes back in war time. It became cheaper since there was an overflow in the production of parachutes. As it was cheaper than silk, the use of nylon in the production for stockings increased heavily. Today it’s still one of the most used fabrics in the stocking industry.
Furthermore, heels were actually made for walking (or running). So those 3-4 inch killer heels of today were unthinkable back then.
Well, enough talk…it’s picture time!
The most beautiful gown of the 1940s, worn by Rita Hayworth in the best movie of the 1940s:
Opening of one of the first nylon shops | +/- 1940