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The Way We Wore: The 1940's.

World War II dominated the decade of the Forties. As the conflict spread, all resources were conserved and given defense priority. Fashion excesses were out; rationing in. Two-pants suits, vests, trouser cuffs, and long skirts were deemed wasteful. New synthetic fibers were developed that would soon enter the world of fashion. The broad-shouldered "drape" suit continued in style but gradually became less fitted in the waist and hips. Military dress again influenced fashion styling for both men and women. As in World War I, women entered the work force in large numbers. Women's clothes took on a crisp, businesslike look. Shoulders broadened, defined waists returned, and skirts were shortened until they just covered the knees.

Plaid wool suit, by Lucien Lelong, French, 1946.

Lucien Lelong | Suit | French | The Metropolitan Museum of Art

metmuseum.org

Black and red sheer cotton mull dress, Hungarian, 1940s.

IMM gyűjtemények | gyujtemeny.imm.hu

collections.imm.hu

Man's evening suit, by Brooks Brothers, American, 1947.This set of evening coordinates is unusual in its completeness. Made by Brooks Brothers, a well-known high-quality American menswear maker, it features an unusual piqué pattern on vest. The mock-front and real center-back-button closure of the shirts makes for cleaner, smoother look.

Red silk dinner dress (with matching sandal), by Jessie Franklin Turner, American, 1942.

Pale smoke blue chiffon evening dress with embroidered "feather" appliqués (detail), probably European, ca. 1948. Tirelli Trappetti Foundation.

Authentics Collection - Tirelli Trappetti Foundation

tirelli-costumi.com

Pale smoke blue chiffon evening dress with embroidered "feather" appliqués, probably European, ca. 1948. Tirelli Trappetti Foundation.

Authentics Collection - Tirelli Trappetti Foundation

tirelli-costumi.com

Black silk evening gown with gold beaded floral appliqués, probably European, 1938-1940. Tirelli Trappetti Foundation.

Authentics Collection - Tirelli Trappetti Foundation

tirelli-costumi.com

Novelty print silk evening dress, by Henri Bendel, American, 1940.

Gold brocade evening dress with matching shoes and gold hair net, by Bertha Stern for Henri Bendel department store, American, 1942.

Silk tea gown (back), by Jessie Franklin Turner, American, 1940. The use of sumptuous materials and textures, combined in pleasing ways, was a signature element of her designs, seen here in the expert juxtaposition of taffeta, lace, chiffon and satin. Turner was also known for her interesting, often unexpected, color combinations, shown in this teagown in the use of calming celadon satin, chiffon and lace contrasted with the softest of pink and vibrant magenta details.

Silk tea gown (front), by Jessie Franklin Turner, American, 1940. The use of sumptuous materials and textures, combined in pleasing ways, was a signature element of her designs, seen here in the expert juxtaposition of taffeta, lace, chiffon and satin. Turner was also known for her interesting, often unexpected, color combinations, shown in this teagown in the use of calming celadon satin, chiffon and lace contrasted with the softest of pink and vibrant magenta details.

Silk evening dress with criss-cross back, by Charles James, American, 1944-45. A master of the relationship between form, color and texture, James often heightened the drama of his evening wear by combining several like fabrics of different colors, or different fabrics in like colors but with different light reflective qualities.

Grey wool ensemble, probably by Mme. Germaine Monteil for G. Fox & Company, American, late 1940s.

Evening ensemble (black silk column skirt, red brocade bolero with black silk sleeves, matching shoes and handbag), by Mme. Germaine Monteil, American, 1942.

Black silk evening dress with metallic lace yoke, attributed to Mme. Germaine Monteil, American, ca. 1940.

Printed viscose rayon and silk dress with swag, by Jacques Fath, French, 1949. Worn by Lady Alexandra Howard-Johnston (later Lady Dacre). Lady Alexandra dressed exclusively at Jacques Fath. The designer lent her evening and day dresses each season, aware of the publicity that this would give his house. ‘If there was a Fath dress I wanted to keep, I could pay sale price at the end of the season. I was not allowed to go to any other couturier, but I did not want to – Fath was perfection.’

Dress with swag | Jacques Fath | V&A Search the Collections

collections.vam.ac.uk

Green wool knit sweater, American, ca. 1941. Label: "An original design/Registered/by a member of/Fashion Originator's Guild"

The Metropolitan Museum of Art - Sweater

metmuseum.org

Red wool or synthetic evening sweater with black silk decoration, by Mainbocher, American, ca. 1948.

Blue wool evening sweater set with black bead decoration, attributed to Mainbocher, American, ca. 1948.

Pink wool or synthetic evening sweater set with black silk trim, by Mainbocher, American, ca. 1948.

Silk satin evening dress with sequin and bead embroidery and hooped petticoat, by Jacques Fath, French, spring/summer 1948. Worn by Lady Alexandra Howard-Johnston at the official visit of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip to Paris in May 1948.

Worsted wool "New Look" suit by Hardy Amies, British, 1947. Although this curvaceous suit has the small waist and wide hips typical of the New Look, the square shoulders recall wartime styles. Amies, like many London tailors, created custom garments in close consultation with his client. In this case, she may have resisted a complete 'New Look' change in style.

V&A - The Golden Age of Couture - Exhibition

vam.ac.uk