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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.

Black wool suit with hot pink silk blouse (without jacket), by Norman Norell, American, 1941.

Norman Norell | Suit | American | The Metropolitan Museum of Art

metmuseum.org

Black wool suit with hot pink silk blouse (with jacket), by Norman Norell, American, 1941.

Norman Norell | Suit | American | The Metropolitan Museum of Art

metmuseum.org

Multi-colored sequined dress, by Normal Norell, American, early 1940s. Part of the "Subway Costume" with black wool coat with velvet collar.

Black wool coat with velvet collar, by Normal Norell, American, early 1940s. Part of the "Subway Costume" with multi-colored sequined dress.

Sequined wool evening dress, attributed to Norman Norell for Hattie Carnegie, Inc., American, 1940-45.

Red silk evening dress with pussycat bow tie, by Norman Norell, American, 1942.

Black wool "Subway" cocktail dress with faux gem embellishment, by Norman Norell, American, 1942.

Ensemble (black wool sweater, sequined skirt, and black leather belt), by Norman Norell, American, 1942.

Two-tone wool coat, by Marguerite Zorach, American, ca. 1940.

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.