Tuesday, December 13, 2011

What We Were Wearing - Fall 1941

Here's a look at what women were wearing 70 years ago this month.  America had just entered WWII after the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.  While L-85 restrictions were not yet in force, fabric shortages and the needs of war did influence fashion.  Hem lengths became shorter and there was less volume in silhouettes.  American designers were beginning to lead the world in new fashion trends as the Paris couture lost contact with the rest of the world.  Nylon and wool were needed for the war effort and Japanese silk was banned in the U.S., so a relatively new fabric known as rayon became the choice for most women's clothing. 

Shorter hemlines are visible in dresses and skirts as well as jackets.  Fancy decorative touches like ruffles, pleats and tucks are starting to disappear as they require more fabric.

Coats are also shorter and cut with less volume.  Even double breasted styles will go away after the L-85 restrictions are put in place in 1943.  Here you can see the beginnings of the padded shoulders that give a masculine appearance in support of the military.

Clothing becomes more utilitarian.  Basic skirts and blouses are worn for everyday wear.

In contrast to the severe look of most clothing, hats become more ostentatious.  High peaked hats are popular.....

....as are tilt hats that are worn forward over the brow.

Shoes become more utilitarian as well with thick sturdy heels.


Rubber will be needed for the war effort, so girdles made with Lastex start to appear.  Lastex was made from latex.  Stockings are now made of nylon instead of silk.  Soon, they will become scarce due to nylon being used for parachutes for our soldiers.


10 comments:

Erin said...

I love 1940s shoes. Thanks for pointing out that connection between more utilitarian clothng and more ostentatious hats. I'd never thought of that relationship before.

Anonymous said...

Your pictures and comments are very well presented----thank you!

Val said...

I love those tilted hats from the 1940s. I'd love to own some of those crazy hats, but am not sure if I could pull them off!

Anonymous said...

That long coat in the 2nd picture is just gorgeous...

Katie said...

so interesting! i love 40's aesthetic... though i wonder how they felt about how clothes became simpler. maybe they felt very board by the lack of details.

CarmenDahling said...

Fascinating Jody! What did ladies do when they couldn't buy nylons? Weren't bare legs taboo?

Couture Allure Vintage Fashion said...

Bare legs became acceptable out of necessity for the war effort. Women would use make-up on their legs and some when so far as to draw "seams" up the back of the leg with eyebrow pencil.

Anonymous said...

Blog followers from Boston might be interested in a current exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts on WWII British textiles/fashion. More information at: http://www.mfa.org/exhibitions/beauty-duty

The Style Crone said...

The hats!!!!

Nicole said...

This is a great post! This is the year my grandparents married and I love thinking about what my grandmother was wearing back in those days.

It was very great to see close ups of some shoes too! Generally not something you get to see very much. Very great stuff.

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