Fashion: Before and During WWII
In the years leading up to the war, fashion still came from the couture houses in Paris. The wealthy established the styles and it trickled down to the other classes. Fashion was inspired by Surrealists. Elsa Schiaparalli’s fantastic designs were the height of fashion. Hem lengths for women were below the knee.
Men’s suits had long jackets, big lapels, big shoulders, and were often double breasted. There was also some slight waist definition in the jacket. Pants were straight leg, long and had a much higher waist. They wore fedoras, and men started to go shirtless in their swimsuits.
Once the war began couture houses were forced close down after a shortage of materials and the fleeing of their clients. The United States was cut off from Parisian Fashion. As a result many American designers became popular.
Fashion changed from over the top to something more simple and practical. With restrictions on fabric women’s skirts became straighter. Women were also more active and so skirt were also shortened to the knee. Flared and pleated pants, dresses, and skirts were forbidden because of the amount of fabric they used. So were double breasted sport coats for men.
Clothes became more utilitarian and tailored. The world was focused on those engaged in combat and so clothes reflected the styles of military uniforms. Shoulders were padded and the waist was more defined with a belt. American designers focused on making things more functional as well as attractive. Clothes has large pockets and shoulder bags became popular.
There was no restriction on material used in making hats. Turbans became more popular since they saved time on making an elaborate hairstyle. And with their simple dress, women went all out with their hats.
Stockings were in high demand but the materials to make them were also needed in the war effort. As a result women would either wear cotton socks or paint their legs with make up.
Women were encouraged to mend their clothes and to be resourceful. For example, they were encouraged to use curtains to make dresses and couch cushions to make jackets. People used color and accessories to create more decorative looks. Prints also became more popular since beads and sequins were hard to come by.
Since there are so many different military uniforms please use this video to get an idea of how they looked. WWII Uniforms.The Women 1939, segment from the fashion show clip
((I think this is a great example, however the song I'm unsure about. Unfortunately I can not find the original scene.
Fashion Before the War
Fashion and Surrealism
Women in Uniform
Fashion During Wartime
The Popover Dress
Written by Aymsley Trosset.