1940s Dresses & Skirts: Styles, Trends & Pictures

1940s Dresses & Skirts Collage

Dresses in the 1940s were fantastic. The decade witnessed a surge in creativity that had never been seen before. Fashion designers were distinguishing themselves ever further from dressmakers with modern designs and luxurious fabrics.

The decade started quiet, however. Rations caused by war had a heavy effect on all industries, textiles included. Women were wearing suits as much as dresses, if not more during the war. After the war is a different story.

In protest to grim times, color swept over the fashion landscape. Acid greens, hot pinks, reds and pale blues were popular hues in the early 1940s. Blouses contrasted with skirts as the shirtwaist and skirt trend really took hold.

Bright printed calico skirts, known as “broomstick skirts” were quite popular also.

During the war, the U.S. issued an embargo on Japanese silk, prompting women across the country to rush stores in an effort to stock up on hosiery. In some parts of the country, police were called in to control crowds.

The 1940s held a special fondness for the short evening dress. This dress focused attention on the ankle and shoe, sometimes clearing the floor by up to ten inches.

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Day dresses were often pastel, with Peter Pan collars and full gathered skirts. Wide-necked dresses were also in high demand.

Women had an incredible amount of options when it came to dresses. From black starched mousseline dresses with ruffled jabots to glazed chintz dirndls with white lace and pink satin — it seemed nothing was off limits.

No 1940s dress was complete without fur, gloves and a large piece of jewelry. A fine necklace wouldn’t hurt either.

Some popular dress designers from the 1940s were Pierre Balmain, Jean Desses, Christian Dior, Anne Klein among several other big names.

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1940s Dresses & Skirts Gallery

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Last modified: Apr 01, 2014 | Written by Paul Phipps