Post War Influences on Women's Fashion in the West
Picture Credit - digforvictoryshow.files.wordpress.com
Even though the war finally ended in 1945, everything did not immediately return back to normal. As a result, wartime debt and post-war inflation were of great concern. The largest problem was convincing civilians to accept rationing for several more years.
In the meantime while the full effects of the freeing of materials would not be seen until spring 1948, fashion could now be designed as full and frilly as women wanted. Thus in 1947 when the “clothing restrictions” ended many fashionable traits made a comeback. Once again, the nylon stockings became very trendy and sales skyrocketed.
Also, colour came back into fashion so drab colours were replaced with “shocking feminine primary colours”.
More fabrics were utilized that used to be scarce such as linen, cotton, wool, silk and rayon were popular choices. As for shoes, women still wore wedge heels but now with shallower wedges.
New styles appeared that consisted of more delicate, high- heeled court shoes, or shoes finely strapped round the ankles. With many more other fashionable items soon to be on their way, there was a positive increase in the recovery and advancement of the fashion industry.
Picture Credit (left) - img.ti-media.net (right) - assets.vogue.com
In the long run, the war actually stimulated the economy after all those years of saving up and rationing. People had begun to realize that they had no restrictions as to what they could do and it was a time of celebration once the war ended.
Once again, the silhouette changed from the masculine outline during the military time back to having a more feminine look. In addition, some of the styles of women’s fashion also became more lavish and feminine.
The rounded shoulders, long spreading skirts, V-necks, narrow waistlines, flouncy hats, high heels, and bright colours, all became the main characteristics of the womanly figure of the silhouette.
Some of the skirt hemlines hung just below the calves which is an alteration to the hemline that appeared during the war.
This essentially became known as the designer Christian Dior’s New Look which began in February 1947. It was said that the clothes had such a new look and this phrase was repeated so much that everyone knew his style by this name.
What was so different about Dior’s look was in its abundance – the excessive use of luxurious fabrics and time-intensive labour. The overly female form that he presented was created through the use of padded hips and bust lines.
The New Look was definitely the major change in the late 1940s that occurred in women’s fashion as it changed from a simple, unfeminine, utilitarian look to a soft, feminine and decidedly romantic image.
Another big change was in the underwear as corsets had been finally replaced by the all-in- one girdle and the increasingly popular two-piece – bra and the girdle. A few more changes that occurred were that women started to get permanent waves done by heat and they wore more makeup now.
An aspect that remained the same was the trend in home sewing. The length of New Look-inspired clothing required women to find clever ways to alter existing garments to meet the new hemline, which by 1948 was hovering just above the ankle. Now the clothing industry was larger and more independent than it had been before the war.
Picture Credit - hips.hearstapps.com
Essentially, this entire decade was impacted through ways in which the war constrained fashion from its usual path of progression, but necessity was almost literally the mother of invention.
Women’s clothing in this decade went through so many alterations in a somewhat short amount of time.
During the war, synthetic materials were used to make the minimal clothing styles that liberal wartime mores considered appropriate dress. Fashion had never before used so little fabric; short sleeves and knee-length skirts in close-fitting styles accentuated the female silhouette.
Then after the war, the fashion industry sought after new styles, or in Dior’s case, renewing old styles in the New Look. The changes in the post-war time set the look for the next decade.
Once again, referring back to the research question: How were the styles of women’s fashion in the United States influenced by World War II during the 1940s? This can be answered by stating that “War was the dominant influence on fashion in the early 1940s [but] the elegance and excess of the late 1940s were a reaction to the spare, liberating styles that it inspired.
Furthermore, the influences on women’s fashion were positive in that they allowed new styles to emerge and evolve throughout the period of the war and postwar, as well as become an influence towards the following decade.
Thumbnail image credit - i.pinimg.com