VINTAGE 101: 1940’s
America’s Great Depression of the 1930’s came to a sudden end with the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. Almost immediately, the United States was plunged into the second world-wide war. Demands for oversees supplies and the production of military goods helped to raise America out of the economic downfall of the previous decade.
The 1940’s were all about looking smart and chic using only minimal necessary materials. Sudden shortages in certain fabrics and clothing supplies forced women to cut back on the volume and fullness of their apparel. Straight dresses and pencil skirts were often paired with sharply shoulder-padded suit jackets and long gloves. Veiled hats and fascinators were the cherry on top of these striking (yet practical) ensembles. The hair and makeup styles of the 1940’s are one of the most tried-and-true vintage beauty looks. Hair was given a sculptural and shiny look. Popular ’dos included faux bangs, victory rolls, and seductive “peek-a-boo-bang” waves popularized by Lauren Bacall and Veronica Lake. Faux eyelashes and arched red lips were all the rage.
Girl of the Decade: “Rosie the Riveter”
The demand for war goods increased throughout the war. With the men out of the country, fighting the war, the women of America had to take their places in production and manufacturing factories. Strong feminist icons like Rosie the Riveter encouraged women to do their very best in supporting the war effort. Wearing practical overalls and jumpsuits, with their hair tied up in bandanas, these courageous women played an important role in helping America during the war.
Style Icons of the 1940’s
As always, movies stars had a great impact on this decade. Beautiful, strong-willed sirens like Katherine Hepburn, Hedy Lamarr, Lauren Bacall, and Maria Montez were the perfect role models for women on the World War II home front. The iconic pin-up girl (popular pin-ups include actresses Bette Grable and Rita Hayworth) sure had a lot of fans amongst the overseas troops.
Recreating the 1940’s
The 1940’s are one of the most popular decades amongst vintage fashionistas. Retro clothing lines like Mode Merr specialize in recreating wearable pin-up attire. Modern day celebrities like model Bernie Dexter, burlesque dancer Dita von Teese, and pop singer Katy Perry have helped in making this vintage pin-up comeback. If you prefer a less radical fashion take on the 1940’s, look no further than retro fashion blogger Fleur de Guerre. She’s got the perfect mix of pin-up perkiness and classic sophistication—-all 100% 1940’s! Check out her YouTube tutorials on how to get the faux bang and over-drawn red lips of the World War II decade.
If you’re interested in learning more about this decade, you’ll love these movies and books:
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