1940s Style: What Was Post-War Fashion?

Between Occupation and Liberation, restrictions and solutions, straight skirts and New Look, discover all the characteristics of the style of the 1940s.

  1940s style: what was the fashion of the'après-guerre ?

1940, France is occupied by the German army and fashion then undergoes its time. Closings of fashion houses, ration tickets on fabrics and clothes... Yet the style will resist thanks to the ingenuity of the 'women from behind' . Then during the Liberation, the fashion world will take advantage of this surge of post-war joie de vivre and the return of social events to regain color.

What was fashion for women in the 1940s?

Straight skirts without frills, length above the knee restriction obliges, jackets with square shoulders replacing long coats, navy and khaki fabrics... women's outfits in the 40s are made more masculine in echo to the uniforms of the soldiers and are regulated. The only exceptions are hats, which allowed the birth and growth of hatters like Michel's house . The dresses are worn mid-length and fitted, these 40s style dresses that we have seen come back to the fore in recent seasons. As for the shoes, the soles are made of wood and the shoes are very often compensated, heavy and uncomfortable, the add being reserved for the military. Concerning the handbags , they adopt wide shapes and are worn over the shoulder.

Rita Hayworth in 1947

To forget this austere daily life, we are passionate about the fatal women of cinema, like Rita Hayworth and her ultra glamorous dresses. But the androgynous and unconventional Katharine Hepburn , also fascinates with these outfits borrowed from men.

How did the war impact 1940s style?

40s-50s fashion undergoes the restrictions imposed by the war, which does not allow designers to offer new trends, limited to making 100 designs per collection . Ration tickets for civilians appeared in 1941 in France and initially concerned the purchase of textile products. All the materials useful to the armament industry are requisitioned and the cotton , silk or wool are running out. Flared dresses and skirts, trousers with cuffs and the manufacture of large bags are also prohibited. Women must therefore be inventive and dye their legs with tea to imitate silk stockings or draw the seams in black pencil.

Who were the most famous creators in the 40's?

During WWII, Vionnet and Chanel close their doors temporarily while Christopher Balenciaga cease its creations. At the time of the Liberation, the fashion industry looked gloomy, but the desire to party allowed designers to once again offer ultra-feminine pieces. The shoulders are revealed, as are the necklines, the skirts lengthen to the famous few centimeters above the ankle of the collection Corolla of Christian Dior who opened his fashion house in 1946 and presented his first models in February 1947.

The New Look fashion show in 1947

A revolution in the 1940s fashion world with this silhouette with a long flared skirt, an extremely marked waist that emphasizes the chest and rounded shoulders contrasting with the square ones of rigor under the Occupation. You will have recognized it: it is the famous New Look which will restore its status as the fashion capital of Paris.


How to get inspiration from the 40s style today?

To get a 1940s style outfit, wear a midi dress or a pencil skirt, a ne square shoulder jacket to act as a coat and wedge sandals... Unless you prefer to revive the New Look by Christian Dior with a long corolla skirt and a very marked size as post-war fashion wanted. On the hairstyle side, the hair will have to be worked with curlers to obtain notched curls. Question makeup, we do the minimum and we can draw very thin eyebrows .

Source journaldesfemmes.fr