Thursday, August 7, 2014

Decades: Finds from the Pre-War 1940s

Everyone loves the 1940s, but not everyone agrees on which half. There's the 1940s before World War II, and there's the 1940s after, and as the astounding trauma of the wars changed the world, fashion changed along with it.

Pre-WWII fashion made its way out of the figure-hugging 1930s with stronger shoulders and slim A-line skirts. The war required even stronger shoulders to bear its weight, so utilitarian suits with shorter, fabric-preserving skirts became de rigeur.  But once the war was over, and austerity measures a thing of the past, Christian Dior reinvigorated fashion with his über-feminine, fabric-rich New Look of 1947.

The pieces I got to pull for this post span the huge spectrum of the 1940s, one of the most varied decades in fashion history.  Given my love for the 1930s, I really do prefer the early 1940s, but I'm happy to say I found some great dresses from the second half of the decade I'll be showing you next week.  So, how about we jump into the first half of the fab Forties?

Click "read more" to jump on in!

This gorgeous, full-length red rayon gown comes, as best I can date it, from the early 1940s. This dating stems from the beaded bodice, which is reminiscent of the blue 1930s gown I showed in my last post. The shift up to the natural waistline, while retaining soft shoulders, sort of straddles the style line between the two decades.

It's not quite my size, so I've pulled it back to approximate the correct fit.

The beading, which almost looks like fireworks, is in such terrific shape.

I mean there's pretty much nothing not to love about a red, full-length gown. Right?

I put this black embroidered rayon in the early '40s based on the soft lines and unstructured fit.  The best details here are the heavily embroidered sleeve, and the tab buttons run a really close second.

This green gown is a hands-down show stopper.  Draped like a dress straight out of a Hollywood movie, this thing is amazing.  It's easily one of the most photogenic pieces I've ever been lucky enough to wear.

The color, the cut, the drape detail, the neckline-- everything about this dress made me feel honestly gorgeous, which is quite a feat for a mid-day, mid-work, in-between-sorting-dusty-bins-of-shoes photo shoot.  The dress done good.

The shape of this barely-blue dress is your familiar early Forties style, and I love it.

Featuring a peach contrast detail on the sleeves and the peaked waistline, as well as gathered shoulders, this is your basic, lovely, super-flattering 1940s dress.

I'm pretty enamored of this peach gathered dream.

The slight stretch to the fabric hugs the waist, and the thicker detail at the waistline cinches in a little. Why don't dresses like this get made anymore?

To round out Part I is this adorable white cotton print dress.

I would've put this at a later date, but the length of the skirt is longer than mid- to late-1940s dresses.  In any case, the tiny red polka dots, brought out by the clear red buttons, make this a really adorable day dress.

Nobody doesn't like day dresses! I hope you've enjoyed this taste of the early 1940s.  And hey, what do you think-- do you prefer the early, mid, or late 1940s?

Stay tuned for Part II!



  1. That green number is AMAZING!!!

    I'm kind of a lover of all of the 40s. I simply can't pick which portion of it had the best lines!


    1. Hey Janey! I agree, that dress would look great on a scarecrow, it's just plain amazing! Totally get your love for the whole decade; I think I'd be on the same team if late '40s were easier for me to wear (aka no wasp waists!).

  2. Oh man, all of these are absolutely gorgeous! I can't pick a favorite. As I scrolled down, I kept going 'I like THIS one. No THIS one! Oh damn it'
    Like Janey, I like the entire gambit of 40's styles!

    1. Hey Carla, I'm so glad you liked the dresses! They were really fun to photograph, once I got the angles of the dressing room right. I think you'll like the ones I'll put up next, too-- there's a really awesome cocktail dress I wish I could've smuggled out!

  3. Oh my!
    Gorgeous dresses !
    Spécially the green one.
    On and the peach too is awesome !

    Love From Paris,


  4. I LOVE these dresses! And just by the way girl, you are absolutely beautiful :)

  5. I already came here several times to stare at these gorgeous pieces from the early 40s ... the drapings of the green dress are just adorable ... the 40s is my preferred era if it come to craftmensship/tailoring and cuts. everytime i get a piece from this time in my hands, i have to turn the inside out to admire the way how it's made.

    as being a more 50s gal, the cutie with the red spots is my favourite. i would wear it right away ... right now! (maybe it was a very tall girl it ways taiored for ... this dress really looks like late 40s-early 50s).

    as always: can't await the upcoming post!!!! thank you so much for sharing!!!

  6. Wowzer, what a collection! I love, love, love the flower buttons on that black number, I've never seen anything so beautiful! It might be because I'm a bit hungover and feeling fragile, but these dresses made me want to WEEP at their beauty!! P x


  7. I really enjoyed this post! The insights are really helpful and informative.
    The dress itself is very comfortable and easy to wear. You could wear this dress for many occasions, such as party, dating, wedding, work,, and it looks amazing on! The material is THICK and stretchy, great for spring,fall,winter.
    The Cocktail Dress season is coming soon and now the time to start finalizing
    your luxurious Cocktail Dress .
    Find a great collection of Cocktail Dress
    This dress was absolutely beautiful!! It was well made.