1940s wardrobe essentials

Discussion in 'The Powder Room' started by imported_miss_molly, Dec 17, 2008.

  1. moonmatrix

    moonmatrix Familiar Face

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    Location:
    utica ny
    Wow the black lace up oxfords are almost identicall to a pair of modern ones I found in a yard sale. I also found a gray lace up pair, and a royal blue pair, all never worn, Clarks, and only a dollar each.
     
  2. LisaSmuts

    LisaSmuts New in Town

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    London
    Hello - is there a similar thread to this for the 1930s?
     
  3. St. Louis

    St. Louis Practically Family

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    Location:
    St. Louis, MO
    Over the past few years I've slowly been migrating to a late 1930s wardrobe, and incidentally in my home as well (1930s dishes, cookware, waffle iron, electric clothes iron, phones, typewriter, and so on.) It does help to be able to sew skirts and dresses, though I tend to look for the tailored jackets and coats in vintage stores. Here in St. Louis there are several great shops along Cherokee Street, so when I go shopping for shoes, handbags, or outerwear I often feel as though I'm taking a trip back in time.

    In general, I think an "ordinary" woman's wardrobe (meaning, not pin-up or bombshell or the like) works very well for my everyday work life. I made several wool skirts from 1930s and 40s patterns, and with a tailored blouse, low-heeled lace-up oxfords or vintage shoes, plus an appropriate but not too campy hairstyle, I'm not too outrageous. People at work tell me they know it's a 1930s/40s look, but I don't think it causes a lot of comment. Early on I used to wear seamed stockings but that got me some attention I didn't enjoy. So I've migrated to plain cotton or rayon fully-fashioned stockings, or else wool ones.

    I think on the whole late 30s or early 40s is a great look for work: very flattering and lady-like, professional, not too over-the-top or frumpy.

    For summer, I tend to wear cotton dresses (again, made from vintage patterns), linen skirts, cotton short-sleeved blouses, and white keds or other shoes I found at the Vintage Sole.

    So to answer the original poster's question (which granted is now 4 years old) I would say, 3-5 skirts, a clean blouse for each new outfit, a few dresses, plus appropriate coats and jackets, should be enough for a fall through spring wardrobe. In my line of work I don't have to dress up much in the summers, or at least not very professionally. I don't go for suits much, because they'd be overdressing at work, but a tailored jacket over a rayon dress or with a harmonizing plaid or herringbone skirt is great.

    I agree with an earlier poster that a black / brown handbag plus matching shoes is the way to go. I can't seem to find appropriate hats at all -- at least not in a price range I can afford -- so I've knitted a few tams and berets. In the summers I mostly go without hats. That's a problem I haven't quite resolved. I have this odd modern sensibility about hats, meaning that I feel funny, overdressed, and somewhat un-flattered in them.
     
  4. renaissancemedici

    renaissancemedici One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    111
    Location:
    Athens, Greece
    St. Louis, your comments on an ordinary woman's wardrobe are pretty much what I have been thinking about lately. Late 30s-early 40s are my favourite years, and yet I struggle to find my most flattering style. I have been thinking how I would dress if I had been actually alive back then. Not all styles would suit me, having an hourglass shape. So, I would think my clothes should always be tailored with a defined waist, to avoid looking frumpy and heavier than I really am.

    I'd say

    4 skirts and hopefully matching jackets
    2 pair of trousers
    6 blouses
    a couple of sweaters
    1 coat
    several dresses, as flattering as possible

    I think menswear sould be a real inspiration for wardrobes, as their clothes usually are practical as well as stylish.

    I am still thinking about such things and I am trying to form some sort of plan for my wardrobe and style, but I haven't been there yet. All I know is that 1940s (with a splash of 1930s), is my biggest point of reference.
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2013
  5. St. Louis

    St. Louis Practically Family

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    613
    Location:
    St. Louis, MO
    Good point, Renaissancemedici! I agree that thinking about what an average woman would have worn during the late 30s and early 40s is the best possible way to go. I.e., at my job, any hint of "bombshell" would be highly inappropriate (not to mention the fact that I'd be mutton dressed as lamb.) I do believe that an hourglass figure is flattered by those styles, particularly if you stick with darted and princess lines. I find that I have to be careful with some Golden Era style lines, such as open pleats over the bust, because they can make me look top-heavy. But most of the 30s-40s patterns in my collection show nicely tailored bodices and gored or pleated skirts, which flatter a curvy figure.

    I did find that I had to learn how to grade patterns correctly. I usually add a half inch or even one inch to the pattern (by cutting and spreading, rather than pivoting, which I find less satisfactory.) On the whole, though, once I've added that extra inch, I don't have to make any other adjustments. I'm not overweight, but I definitely have a "in and out" type of figure, and I find that 30s and 40s patterns fit me perfectly in other respects. I.e., the overall proportions are right and the length from neck to waist always seems to work.

    One thing I should add to the list is cardigans. I recently found two great ones at Wool Overs, a wonderful British firm that sells high quality woolens with a distinct vintage style. Their sales are great, and their shipping to the US quite reasonable.

    Considering that most of my coworkers are outspoken and somewhat socially inept, I'm sure I'd have heard if they thought my style was eccentric. I've been doing the Golden Era thing for about a year and a half now and so far all reports have been either positive or mildly amused.
     
  6. renaissancemedici

    renaissancemedici One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    111
    Location:
    Athens, Greece
    I am quite sure that feminine and well groomed is enough to set a girl apart, even if she doesn't dress vintage all the way. The 1940s was full of femininity, style, clothes that actually fit and look flattering. What a difference from today.
     
  7. LisaSmuts

    LisaSmuts New in Town

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    London
    Thank you both.
     
  8. Lady Day

    Lady Day I'll Lock Up Bartender

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    Location:
    Crummy town, USA
    I feel the same about wearing a hat before 5 pm.
    A good work around for me is wearing a big flower in my hair (which I do nearly everyday). Seems like a happy medium.
     
  9. Heather

    Heather Practically Family

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    Location:
    Southern Maine, USA
    Bumping up to browse later :)
     
  10. GlamourDaze

    GlamourDaze New in Town

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    Location:
    Rep of Ireland
    Glamourdaze.com has several posts on actual 1940s wardrobes for autumn, winter, summer etc.

    [​IMG]

    The 1940s Wardrobe Checklist.
    1940s Fashion - A Young Womans wardrobe plan 1947.
    1940s Dress Code in the War years.
    1940s Fashion - Bettys Winter Wardrobe Plan.


    We gathered these from various 1940s home economics books. The prevailing thinking for young women in the 1940s was to recycle as much as possible. It was still the early days of the trow-away consumer culture, so most women held on to that dress for as long as possible.
    We do have a basic guide for quickly achieving the 1940s wardrobe look from just rummaging through your current wardrobe. You'll be surprised at how easy it is to get the correct summer style for the 1940s!, without having to part with much cash. Skirts and dresses were calf length or at least knee length. So look for either a top and skirt combo or a pretty dress that has a little bit of flare in the skirt with a fitted bodice waist. if you don't have a dress with a fitted waist - just find a nice belt and there you are! for shoes - choose a pair of Oxfords with not too high a heel. Accessories were all the rage - so look for gloves, and faux jewellery and hair accessories. These can be found in thrift or vintage stores, or if you're lucky, you'll find something left over from Grandma! Underwear is very important. Find a girdle with suspenders attached, and treat yourself to a pair of seamed tan stockings!

    The silhouette for a typical day suit - for wearing to work - was angular - slim pencil skirt to the knee worn with a blouse and jacket - slightly padded at the shoulder. Or a one piece with the same silhouette. Here are some examples of the Autumn wardrobe for Hollywood stars in 1940.


    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    Makeup was simple - forget about the current burlesque look. A pretty 1940s girl had pale skin, subtle cheeks and redder than red lips - very little else other than some careful contouring.

    [​IMG]

    [video=youtube;g_9JwjRyD0E]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g_9JwjRyD0E[/video]
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2013
    queen of jacque likes this.
  11. Stray Cat

    Stray Cat My Mail is Forwarded Here

    Yes, you do.
    And YES, I'm a regular on your site. :D
     
  12. TheSacredFemme

    TheSacredFemme One of the Regulars

    Messages:
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    Location:
    Jolly England
    I may have gone as far as reading all 20 pages of this thread...perhaps you ladies can help me with my dilemma.

    I adore the 1940s and strive to live my life according to many rationing principles. I have long had a fascination with the strong women WWII bred and am inspired to be even half as courageous as them. Due to budget reasons most of my original vintage wardrobe consists of early 50s pieces (somehow well preserved 40s is always that hint out of my price range). Whilst I look out for 50s pieces that still look 40s I do end up looking distinctly 50s. Any ideas on how to remedy this? I understand that the average joe can't tell the difference but when my favourite vintage shop owner pointed out how lovely and 50s I always look I felt a smidge sad.

    What am I missing?!:eusa_doh:
     
  13. sheeplady

    sheeplady I'll Lock Up Bartender

    Can you sew, Femme? Are you attached to having actual vintage pieces, or are you OK with vintage inspired?

    I think there's many of things that make one think of the 1950s versus the 1940s. When I think 1940s I think more A-line skirts and dresses, whereas 1950s tend to be more full. That's a simple hallmark for me. A-line skirts are easy to sew, so you could add a few pieces in a jiffy to your wardrobe.

    I think your avatar looks very 1940s in regards to clothing and your makeup does too.
     
  14. TheSacredFemme

    TheSacredFemme One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    120
    Location:
    Jolly England
    Thanks for your swift reply!

    I can indeed sew as I study costume design and construction at university. I quite like bolstering out my wardrobe with handmade items (I'm now also attempting to knit). I do prefer vintage but the odd bit of reproduction has creeped in!

    Thank you for the boost of confidence. :) sometimes I wonder if it's my figure that makes me look more 50s?


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  15. Babydoll

    Babydoll Call Me a Cab

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    Might the look of your figure being 40s vs 50s be resolved with foundation garments?
     
  16. TheSacredFemme

    TheSacredFemme One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    120
    Location:
    Jolly England
    What kind? I wear a fairly traditional brassiere and usually a girdle.
     
  17. Babydoll

    Babydoll Call Me a Cab

    Messages:
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    Location:
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    I'm sure that others here could give more specific information, but my thought is a brassiere with full back coverage, possibly something like a longline, and a girdle all covered by a full slip to create the silhouette of the 40s. The 50s look is more pointed/bullet bra, nipped waist hourglass look.
     
  18. lolly_loisides

    lolly_loisides One Too Many

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    Location:
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