Looking at fashion throughout the decades each period of time has become known

for something fashion wise. The 1940s were a different time however, with World

War II raging on 2 fronts, supplies in the United States by all accounts were

dwindling or already gone. This not only pertained to direct military equipment, but

also clothing, food, and other sundry supplies that we don’t think twice about

running out of today. Many who lived through this era remember all the shortages

and difficulties that came along with fighting a war as the challenge remained at

home for women to still feel and look good during an extremely difficult time.

Fashion remained static for women in the United States from the onset of World

630ec2c70a306502be07c4b77d83db4bWar II until 1947, which ushered in what was referred to as the “New Look.”

Throughout the war, dresses were kept at knee level and for the first time featured

shoulder pads (which were seen as one of the few things you could do to a dress to

jazz it up with all of the given wartime rations in place). Sportswear also started to

come into the wardrobe more; a lot of times mixing separates together would create

multiple unique looks with clothes that you already had. Women also started

making their own clothes and accessories again which would add some flair to the

outfit with minimal cost. Important to take notice of is that a lot of times you would

see women working in factories a la Rosie the Riveter in drab coveralls, yet those

ladies who worked these industrial jobs would almost always take time to put curls

in their hair and/or use that bright red lipstick the 1940’s era was famous for just to

simply feel more feminine during a tough and austere time.

Because there were supply and material shortages and fashion was pretty much

DIY, women would still go out and have a great time. Evening dresses remained long

and were nowhere as elaborate and they had been with previous fashion trends;

formal wear was virtually absent from public view as the Oscars during the war

1940s-painted-stockings-applying-the-seamseven shunned formal wear in favor of suits for men and cocktail dresses for the

women. Now when going out dancing, knee length Rayon dresses were still the

quintessential piece as they allowed for the greatest amount of movement while

doing the jitterbug. The stocking shortage in place meant that some women

resorted to using leg makeup, and even going as far as painting a seam going down

their legs. They also compensated by wearing Bakelite jewelry and even adoring

their hair with faux flowers that could brighten up a dance floor during a drab time.

The “New Look” first poked its head up in 1947, enough time after the war for the

Unbakelite-bangles-for-girlsited States and it’s industry within to recover from the wartime shortages it had

experienced earlier in the decade. This look departed from traditional women’s

fashion pre-war in that with key materials being available again, and with designer

Christian Dior spearheading the moment things were bound to get interesting.

Focused on creating soft-sloping shoulder lines, narrow waists, and full skirts, this

look was quite a departure from what women had become accustomed to. Centered

on a nipped waist with longer and fuller skirts, the New Look utilized much more

material to create that classic female image. The main philosophy Dior incorporated

into this movement was to let the curves of the female body be molded by the

tumblr_mle6oiKd811r0cph8o1_250clothes with style being secondary to function.

This period of time did was more than just forcing women to dress down and go

work factory jobs; there was a philosophical shift. Women now had a taste of the

working life and would remain in it after the war. Although not regaining comfort or

practicality until the 1960’s, fashion in the 1940’s did more than just allow the

United States to continue production during wartime, it fundamentally changed how

women looked at themselves and fashion at large.