The 1940s was a very influential era in fashion. Some of our most iconic vintage items worn today are either reconstructed or inspired by the 1940s.
What makes this era so memorable? It could be the relation to WWII. The war greatly impacted fashion. At first, France dominated the fashion scene in this era. Once German forces occupied France, some fashion designers fled the country. The designers who stayed created fashion that was distinctly different from their counterparts. For example, the U.S market had a more utility style approach the womenswear. More specifically, the details incorporated padded sharp shoulders, a fitted waist, and A-line silhouettes from the waist down. The whole “uniform” aesthetic was evident in the large square pockets on the blazers and the textiles. Fabrics like wool and silk were limited, so designers took lots of care and detail in garment construction. Vintage styles containing these natural fibers are highly sought after, and tricky to source.
Yes, finding authentic vintage pieces from the 1940s is taxing, but the reasons are evident. This era has now impacted fashion today. Utility and ultra-feminine details are what’s trending now in fashion. Take for example vertical flounces. They are a detail heavy on cropped blouses today and full-length dresses. This was very popular in the 1940s along with ditsy floral mosaic prints (tiny flowers, with dark or saturated backgrounds).
Color palettes were also affected and consist of neutral tones in beige, black, and navy blue mainly.
The large square pocket details are more frequent on pants, better known as military style. Peplum details were also spawned from the 1940s (more so the 1945’s). Sleeve and shoulder details were also ultra-feminine, with butterfly and puff sleeves burgeoning in the later part of the 1940s.
This era in fashion had a great impact on the world. Through its harshness, some styles still represented the strength and softness of women during WWII. These styles continue to influence fashion and still play an iconic role in vintage style today.