With the Lytham Wartime Weekend being just over a week away. Here is a little taster of 1940’s style, you dont have to dress up, but it’s fun to do so. If you dont have time this year, there will be stalls selling vintage clothing and accessories both original & repro. Plus the charity shops in town, have been ‘hoarding’ 40’s stuff all year. Whatever you want to do, it’s a GREAT people watching opportunity
For the first time in the 20th century hemlines went up! It wasn’t some much a risqué move but a fabric saving one. There was still rationing as most material was used in making military and volunteering clothing. From 1941 you needed coupons for all types of clothing including children’s clothing so you had to spend them wisely. You needed money as well as coupons and with both thin on the ground there was a ‘Make Do and Mend’ campaign which a great deal of women embraced making their own clothes and even underwear made from the military parachute silk!
In the stores the look was masculine militant look lots of buttons & shoulder pads, and as any style savvy woman and Gok Wan knows that wider shoulders gives the illusion of a narrower waist.
Necklines could be just about anything High collared, boat neck, slit, shirt style but not revealing much skin! Skirts could be flared, A-line and narrow, but not the big circular skirts, it took to the excesses of Post War 1950’s for those to be in vogue and the fabric available. Prints were tiny floral patterns, tartan and checked.
Shoes were chunky heeled or wedge, and from the sturdy lace ups for day wear to embellished with leather bows or flowers. Copied from the men were the flat, sometimes two tone brogues.
Accessories included gloves of all fabrics including crocheted, hats of all shapes and sizes, beret, pill box, peaked and brimmed, or copied from the men eg Trilby
Great video on YouTube
Hair & Beauty
Even with ALL the external pressures, rationing, air raids, factory working & volunteering, women were encouraged to always ‘look their best’ ‘Beauty was a Duty’ to keep up morale for both sexes!! Even the land girls would NOT been seen without lippy!! Make up was not rationed BUT very expensive, but resourceful girls could always use beetroot juice for lip stain, gravy browning or cold tea for the illusion of stockings with a ‘seam’ draw in by a friend with a steady hand!
Popular hairstyles during the ’40s, were rolled either up or under (like the Victory Rolls) and almost always wavy or curly, and positively ornate in a lot of cases. Hair was always clean and shiny even though shampoo at some point was in short supply! Unlike the wash & go of today, hair washing and styling was quite a performance, using pin-curls whilst hair was wet and keeping in all night to be taken out in the morning and hence the ‘excuse’ I can’t go out I’m washing my hair was born! Beauty salons were everywhere, private and public and even in your place of work!. If you didn’t have time (or money) for all this, thank goodness for scarves, hats & even turbans!
How intricate is this?
And for Men
Throughout the War the majority of men where in uniform and some of the leisure wear that came later was heavily influenced by it, like bomber jackets and trench coats. When leaving the forces, men were issued with a ‘Demo Suit’ that was a mass produced item & therefore not well fitted and normally in drab colours. The suit was worn for almost every occasion and if not the Demob Suit was either double or single breasted jacket with wide legged, high waisted trousers. The extreme of these trousers were ‘Oxford Bags’. ‘Personality’ was added to the boring & dull ‘uniform’ by way of ties, braces and mostly handknitted vests (tank tops), knitting patterns were in demand. Shoes (when not in Forces Boots) where lace up Brogues and ‘Oxfords’ that are still a classic today, and the more daring were two tone.
Of course you were never fully dressed without a hat and Fedoras & Trilby’s were de rigour
Hair products were massively popular with lotions, potions, pomades (not even sure what they are?) and the ubiquitous Brylcreem. Grooming extended to shaving and it was clean shaven all the way apart from pencil moustaches, but they always remind me of the Spiv in Dads’ Army!!
Gentlemen, if you want a lovely close shave, you can book Fat Cat Club or have a walk-in on the Saturday
I personally LOVE lindybop.co.uk
Great website for historical perspective but is American vintagedancer.com/
For fabulous original knitting patterns www.thevintageknittinglady.co.uk/Fab40s/index.html