It is worthless to discuss fashion of the forties without first understanding the tremendous impact World War II had on everyday life during the early part of the decade. World War II changed the world of fashion forever. Severe restrictions were imposed on the apperal industry by the government (Keogh). For men the tailored silhoutte, with padded shoulders and a narrow waist and hips, were essentially frozen until the late nineteen forties (Keogh). Women were forced to recycle there clothing, or hand them down to other women when the clothing was not being used for example, the wedding dress, It was a way of conserving fabrics(Thomas). Most fabrics at the time were purchased " ready made". This meant that the fabrics were already sewn together to be worn. In some areas where blot fabrics could not be purchsed or blockades prevented shipments. Women would use the art of sewing, or making there own clothing by putting fabrics together. This was a more detailed but less expensive way to get clothing (Thomas).
The fabrics for clothing during the time of war that were being worn were very dull. Because of the depressing times women and men simplified there clothing. Fabrics were available mostly as solid colors, stripes, and plaids (Thomas). In an effort to comply with the restrictions imposed on them, American designers created a new style of suits for women. Skirts were short and straight topped by short jackets of twenty-five inches or less in length. Cardigans matched skirts and sheath evenign dresses replaced the long flowing gowns of the thirties ( Keogh). McCalls produced patterns for transforming men's suits into ladies' suits and women's dresses into children's clothing. (Keogh). After viewing hundreds of period photographs, about eighty percent of them feature solid colors, and tight fitting suits for both men and women. Overseas, leather was restricted to military use, so shoe designers were forced to be increasingly clever. Every imaginable material was to make shoes, reptile skins and mesh were the most successful substitutes.
Women everywhere used household items, including cellophane and pipe cleaners, to create shoe decorations. Everything was recycled, giving rise to such advertising, Vogue's "Make Do & Mend" campaign. (Keogh). Shoe factories were told to limit the height of shoe heels to one inch and allowed for only six color choices. For women, nylons stocking were banned. Magazines and beauty salons helped out by offering tips on how to paint legs with back seams and tan using makeup. (Keogh). Clothing was also made to be comfortable. Since women were replacing jobs for men in factories there clothing had to be loose fitting and comfortable. In 1947, Dior introduced the "New Look", featuring longer lengths and fuller skirts, they were being to look more like women again.Women's fashion changed to a soft, feminine and romantic image, this set the stage for fashion of women in the next decade.
Optimism came about during the post-war years of the nineteen fifties. The focus was on...