By 1940, war had changed the face of fashion significantly. The romantic full-skirted silhouette of the 1930’s was held back, and it wasn’t until 1947 where Christian Dior brang back a new silhouette, also called  ‘The New Look’

the new look

Dior launched a new collection of the House of Dior, the new collection went down in fashion history. The signature shape was characterized by a below-mid-calf length, full-skirt, pointed bust, small waist, and rounded shoulder line. The new silhouette soon became immensely popular, influencing fashion and other designers for many years to come.


Throughout the post war period, a tailored, feminine look was prized and accessories such as gloved and pearls were popular. These tailored suits had fitted jackets with peplums, and were often worn with long, narrow pencil skirts and day dresses had fitted bodices and full skirts usually with peterpan collars or low-cut necklines.


Because of the war, publications such as Vogue opted for slogans such as

“Dig for Victory”

dig for victory

The war also meant women were required to join the work force, working on farms and in factories.

As clothing was being rationed, nylon stockings were rationed and so women compromised by wearing trousers.

Everyday civilian clothing were being made with military detailing.

military detailing

This gave the wearer a sense of unity during the war. Wedding dresses were also designed with a uniform image in mind.

In 1942, the Board of Trade commisioned a group of designers to create a range of clothing that would be mass produced, this meant less materials and labour would have to be used during a time when these utilities were precious.

fashion of 1945

Overalls and boiler suits were worn by women working in munitions factories, and hairstyles were worn long and curled, and often bound up in turbans for health and safely requirements.



French women adopted a style named the Paris Hat after the fall of Paris in 1940. The style was said to laugh in the face of Nazi Occupation- huge elaborate hats were worn with dignity.

450407 - Paris Hats 1

The war had had the biggest impact on fashion yet. It made fashion history, and at the time fashion was used to help the war effort. There were maps of france printed on scarves handbags were also made with false bottoms to hide resistance leaflets.


With American troops being mobalised, the American influences rapidly spread.


Coca Cola and chewing gun became very popular and American soldiers often tried to impress British girls with girft of nylon stockings.


Also, American Dance crazes quickly spread across Britain, this included the dance- the boogie woogie, the swing and the musical ensemble Big Band.


boogie woogie



Swing style became an integral part of 40’s fashion.


big band

The zoot suit heavily influenced menswear in the 40’s. They were worn by musicians of a black origin, they had high waisted trousers, wide legs and wide lapels. It was a concious display of daring to be different, and was aslo a nod to the racial situation in America at that time.



The war finally ended in 1945. The nation was relieved and cheerful, and Paris once again began to draw people back into fashion design, and paris collections of 1947 heralded what came to be called “The Golden Age of Couture”.

ww2end2 ww2end3 ww2end


One thought on “1940-1947

  1. Pingback: The New Look | Small Town World

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