40 Stunning Photos Showing Fashion & Style Trends of the 1940s

As the 1940s went through times of hardship during and after WWII, the solution was significant rationing and fashion items and fabrics were no exception. Fashion became more utilitarian or function and comfortability over style. Besides this rationing, as a tribute, women’s fashion also changed to reflect that and it was seen in the new silhouette that is featured suits. In order to feminize this, certain elements were added such as the straight knee-length skirts and accessories to complete the look. Even with the challenges imposed by shortages in rayon, nylon, wool, leather, rubber, metal (for snaps, buckles, and embellishments), and even the amount of fabric that could be used in any one garment, the fashion industry’s wheels kept chugging slowly along, producing what it could. After the fall of France in 1940, Hollywood drove fashion in the United States almost entirely, with the exception of a few trends coming from war torn London in 1944 and 1945, as America’s own rationing hit full force, and the idea of function seemed to overtake fashion, if only for a few short months until the end of the war. Fabrics shifted dramatically as rationing and wartime shortages controlled import items such as silk and furs. Floral prints seem to dominate the early 1940s, with the mid-to-late 1940s also seeing what is sometimes referred to as “atomic prints” or geometric patterns and shapes. The color of fashion seemed to even go to war, with patriotic nautical themes and dark greens and khakis dominating the color palettes, as trousers and wedges slowly replaced the dresses and more traditional heels due to shortages in stockings and gasoline. The most common characteristics of this fashion were the straight skirt, pleats, front fullness, squared shoulders with v-necks or high necks, slim sleeves and the most favorited necklines were sailor, mandarin and scalloped.

Here, some of the best of the 1940s fashion and style trends highlight in 40 stunning pictures.

Joan Crawford, 1940s
Christian Dior’s New Look, 1947
Ava Gardner, 1944
Bette Davis, 1943
Doris Day, 1948
Rita Hayworth, 1940
Katharine Hepburn, 1940
Joan Crawford, 1946
Grace Kelly, 1947
Ginger Rogers, 1942
Barbara Stanwyck, 1941
Rita Hayworth, 1946
Ingrid Bergman, 1942
Bette Davis, 1940s
Rita Hayworth, 1940s
Ladies in Paris, 1947
Swimsuit Competition, Paris, 1949
Christian Dior Model, 1947
Ava Gardner, 1940s
Betty Hutton, 1945
Ann Sheridan, 1942
Reard Fashion Show, 1946
Betty Grable, 1940s
Lucille Ball, 1940s
Ladies Sunbathing in London, 1942
Brenda Marshall, 1940s
Models on Bond Street, London, 1942
Land Girl in Southern England, 1944
Hedi Lamarr, 1941
Lana Turner, 1946
Lana Turner, 1943
Lauren Bacall, 1944
Barbara Stanwyck, 1940
Betty Grable, 1943
Claudette Colbert, 1941
Doris Day, 1945
Ginger Rogers, 1942
Ida Lupino, 1940s
Olivia de Havilland, 1941
Claudette Colbert, 1942

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