Because of rationing, dresses and suits became slimmer with just enough fabric to be able to sit or walk. Skirts and dresses were knee-length.
The most common color was “Air Force blue” and clothes had a sharp, almost military-like look.
Many dresses hugged the waist, buttoned down the front, and were belted at the waist.
Darts or gathers at the waist and shoulder were used, shaping full busts and keeping the waistline trim.
Because of the need to reduce the number of clothes items that people owned, and the need to use those clothes items throughout the year, American designers introduced the idea of separates and coordinating components. By mixing and matching different items, this gave the illusion of having more outfits.
The shirt dress
A practical and simple dress that featured a button down style top with a flared or A-line skirt.
The swing dress
A prettier day dress with an A line skirt that gave enough room for movement and dance.
The military look
From suits to trench coats the military look was everywhere.
The pencil skirt
The pencil skirt and dress was introduced by Dior in the late 4os and was worlds apart from Dior’s “New Look” which had taken the fashion world by storm in 1947.
Dior’s New Look
Christian Dior’s “New Look” silhouette, introduced in 1947, was a direct response to the wartime austerity look. It featured a tailored, pleated jacket with a nipped waist and a peplum (a small skirt emphasizing a narrow waist and wide hips) that flared out into a mid-calf length, full skirt made up of several folds. Instead of the leggy wartime look, the New Look emphasized the bust and hips in an hourglass figure more than earlier 40s ensembles and did away with military like shoulder pads.
High waisted trousers
During the war women began working in factories and needed safe clothing that wouldn’t snag in the machinery. They wore men’s pants until manufactures started making pants designed for women. Women’s pants then evolved from a work uniform to a casual wardrobe staple. 40s women’s pants were high waisted with buttons or zips down the side.
The Pussybow blouse
With it’s roots in the 30s, the pussybow blouse became popular in the late 40s and again in the 60s and the 80s.
Plaids, checks and stripes were all the rage and gingham was especially popular in America. The bold floral prints that took over the 50s had their roots in 40s swing dresses which often featured small roses, peonies or sprig like patterns. Tropical and Hawaiian prints become very popular in the late 40s.
Funnily enough beads and sequins were never rationed so ladies covered their evening dresses in them to give them a little razzle dazzle.
Come summer time ladies were wearing bright florals or light coloured dresses with bare arms and ankles.
Evening dresses were often simple short dresses without too much decoration, but ladies who had money throughout the war and many ladies in the late 40s went for all out glamour.