Guest post by Debbie Wells of Vintage Dancer
Alison kindly asked me to write another guest post on 1940s fashion. Its one of my favorite topics so naturally I said yes! For this post I thought it would be helpful to show you how to find new or used 1940s style clothing in the shops today. While I love to dress in vintage clothes I actually have more fun hunting for vintage inspired styles while I am out shopping. I look at both thrift stores/charity shops as well as new clothing stores.
1940s Style Dresses
All you ladies in the UK have a forties inspired clothing trend happening now. What is often called a “tea dress” is very close to 1940s style dresses.
For starters classic 40s dresses often had:
- Puffy sleeves, long or short with shoulder pads. Pads are usually left out of new 1940s style dresses today (thank goodness!)
- A notch collar, much like men’s shirt collars
- Modest tops- Square, round, sweetheart, or slit opening tops were all favorites.
- Button down “shirt “ dresses, wrap over dresses and ruched dress ( dresses with gathers on the bodice) were all iconic styles
- A line skirt that flared slightly from the hips down in an A shape to the bottom of the knee. This is often why they are called “Tea Length” dresses although traditional tea length is mid shin, not knee.
- Colors were subtle, not very bright, with small prints being very popular. Navy, Green, Yellow, Red, and Brown were the most common.
Blouses and Pants
If you are not into wearing dresses than a pant and top combination can still be very 40s.
Blouses: Like dresses, blouses had point collars, button down fronts, puffy sleeves and came in plain light colors or small prints. One trendy style top is the peasant blouse which is popular with the Boho trend happening now in the USA. Necklines are gathered, sleeves are puffy, and embroidery along the top and sleeves was a pretty addition.
Pants or Trousers in the 1940s were high waisted, side buttoning, and wide legged. Navy or tan were the best colors. The trouser band fit right over the belly button which is a very flattering fit on most women. Finding side buttons or a zipper will be hard but it is worth the effort. The pants legs are wide, not palazzo pant wide, but certainly wider than today’s skinny or classic fit pants. The best place to find women’s 40s style pants is in the “mature” or “misses” section of department stores.
A few 1940s style accessories will help to complete your look. You can wear these with your regular wardrobe too for just that little hint of the 40s.
Shoes: Wedge heel pumps, Mary Jane Pumps (Single Strap), Ankle Straps, Non-strap pumps, and Peep Toe (very small toe opening) are all classic 40’s style. What makes them more vintage rather than modern is how heavy or chunky the heels and upper portion are. They should look and feel sturdy not light and dainty. 1940s shoes usually had a large decoration on the toe like a bow or flower too.
Jewelry: Heavy bead necklaces is what my grandmother wore. She, and most women in the 1940’s, also wore a brooch/pin on her dress or blouse. The larger, tacky, horrid looking designs the more 40’s they are! My favorite time to shop for 40’s pins is at Christmas when stores seem to stock the ugliest ones. Themes of flowers or patriotic motifs with vivid colors or rhinestones were very popular. The best thing about wearing a brooch today if that everyone will compliment you since hardly anyone wears them.
A large flower clipped into your hair in a final accessory I recommend. It is a nice alternative to hats, which I hardly find new. Vintage 40s hats are still easy enough to find but honestly I just prefer a nice happy hair flower. On days I don’t want to do my hair, a head scarf or knit snood, makes me look like a vintage dame.
Photo: (GP 1940s style clothing UK)
Dress: Oasis , Shoes: Spartoo, Necklace: House of Fraser, Brooch: Debenhams, Blouse: BHS, Trousers: Saks 5th Ave
Find all of these items and more at http://www.vintagedancer.co.uk/1940s-style-dresses-uk/ and clothes in the USA at http://www.vintagedancer.com/1940s/
Debbie is a full time WAHM who runs VintageDancer.com, an aggregate shopping site for vintage inspired clothing. She is also author of the 1940's StyleGuide, a book about 1940's fashion history and how you can wear the styles today for women and men!