The 1940s Fashion Trends that Still Affect the Way we Dress Today
The Great Depression and the stresses of fighting the Second World War both affected everything about everyday life at the time. It even affected 1940s fashion. It was a time when America actually rationed these essentials – even clothing. Cloth and all kinds of fabric were needed to supply the war effort. Soldiers needed uniforms, parachutes, backpacks – if people wanted fabric for clothing, they had to make do with less.
And this led to the 1940s fashion trend of really tight and shorts clothes. If you wore a jacket, it couldn’t be more than 25 inches. It was at this time that short skirts actually became popular among women. That’s right, short skirts were patriotic. And the styles back then were pretty severe too. Material just could not be diverted to needless pockets or laces or ruffles. These trends even reached Hollywood movies from the time that featured the lead actors in really severe and short clothing styles.
DuPont invented nylon as a kind of substitute for silk. Silk was really needed for military purposes, and it just couldn’t be used for stockings and scarves and the like. And so, the new silk-like material for DuPont was used for stockings instead. But the military saw that nylon could be very useful in the war effort too. And so, the women had to actually make do without stockings. Some women would put makeup on their legs to make it look like they had stockings on.
Ever wondered at what point women came to wear men’s clothes like pants? It was right around this time. 1940s fashion is irretrievably linked to the first time women began to wear men’s clothing as a kind of mainstream fashion. Apparently, with the men away for the war and with such a shortage of fabric everywhere, women begin to turn to the wardrobes of their husbands and their brothers and their fathers.
They would try to alter them by taking them in and they would wear them. And since many women had to work the factory assembly lines to keep the nation going, practical clothing styles were quite acceptable already anyway.
About the only concession made to decoration was the hat. Both men and women, since they had been forced into wearing severe clothing styles, decided that they would try to compensate for the lack of style by turning to headwear. Hats were all the rage back then. And when hats didn’t really do it for them, they turned to elaborate hairstyles. Makeup tended to be quite showy and overdone as well.
Everything has a history. Many of the fashion practices that we take for granted these days were born back then when people had no choice.
Robert S. is a contributing writer who has many interests including home services, self improvement, building web sites and more! You can see his articles on Air Duct Cleaning Toronto and Self Improvement 101.