Dating home > Clothing > 1940s > Women's Clothing

Women's Clothing

Women's clothes of the 1940s were typically modeled after the utility clothes produced during war rationing. Squared shoulders, narrow hips, and skirts that ended just below the knee were the height of fashion. Tailored suits were also quite popular.

Utility clothes typically featured squared shoulders, narrow hips, and skirts that ended just below the knee. Tailored suits were the dominant form of utility fashion.

1940s Utility Clothes 1940s Utility Clothes 1940s Utility Clothes

1940s Utility Clothes: Image courtesy of Elizabeth Ewing, History of 20th Century Fashion, 1992. Image center and right courtesy of Valerie Mendes and Amy de la Haye, 20th Century Fashion, 1999.

1940s Utility Clothes 1940s Utility Clothes

1940s Utility Clothes: Image courtesy of Elizabeth Ewing. Image courtesy of Valerie Mendes and Amy de la Haye.

Most of the women's fashions during the 1940s were designed with the same squared shoulders, small waist, and skirt above the knee. Do-it-yourself home fashions were encouraged, and women were educated on how to conserve material or update older dresses to the latest fashions. Again, these fashions reflected the style of the utility clothes.

1940s Women's Fashions 1940s Women's Fashions 1940s Women's Fashions

1940s Women's Fashions: Image courtesy of Simplicity Printed Patterns

1940s Women's Fashions 1940s Women's Fashions 1940s Women's Fashions

1940s Women's Fashions: Image courtesy of Simplicity Printed Patterns

1940s Women's Fashions 1940s Women's Fashions 1940s Women's Fashions

1940s Women's Fashions: Image courtesy of Vogue

Blouses were worn frequently with skirts. Blouses typically had padded shoulders.

1940s Blouses 1940s Blouses

1940s Blouses: Image courtesy of Simplicity Printed Patterns

Pants (or slacks) first gained popularity for women during the 1940s.

1940s Pants

1940s Pants: Image courtesy of Elizabeth Ewing

By 1947, after WWII was over, the "New Look" began to replace the wartime utility fashions. This new style embraced femininity, with rounded shoulders, shapely bust lines, closely-defined waistlines, slightly padded skirts, and full, billowing skirts that hung just below the calves.

1947 New Look

1947 New Look: Image courtesy of Elizabeth Ewing

The dresses in the images also reflect the changing fashions of the end of the decade. Especially notable are the rounded shoulders.

Late 1940s Women's Fashions Late 1940s Women's Fashions

Late 1940s Women's Fashions: Image courtesy of Simplicity Printed Patterns. Image courtesy of McCall's.

Teenage girls began to sport sweaters, knee-length skirts, and bobby socks during the 1940s. The style held over into the 1950s, but the 1940s skirts were not as full.

1940s Teenage Fashions: Columbia Gallery

Landscape Change Menu New Breed Marketing New Breed Marketing University of Vermont University of Vermont The National Endowment for the Humanities National Science Foundation Linthilac Foundation