1940s Fabrics and Colors in Fashion
Women’s fashion during the 1940s went through many changes. At the beginning of the decade, a streamlined yet broad-shouldered silhouette was decidedly in style. Because fabric was rationed during World War II, clothing during this time became a bit more basic in both color and design. After the war, things changed yet again. Christian Dior’s revolutionary New Look collection from 1947 made sloped shoulders and full skirts the must-have silhouette.
Regardless of these trends, there are certain colors, prints, and fabrics that were prevalent in women’s fashion during the 1940s. If you are looking to re-create an authentic 1940s look, Here is everything you need to know about the 1940s fabrics and colors that were popular in fashion during this decade.
What colors were popular in the 1940s?
When it comes to clothing during the 1940s, solid colors were reserved for clothing like suits, sportswear, and separates. Most of these garments were manufactured from fabrics with conservative colors like brown, ivory, black, gray, and navy. This should come as no surprise considering these colors are still a mainstay in most women’s wardrobes.
When brighter colors were incorporated, they were typically classic primary colors. Yellow, red, and blue tones were incredibly popular. So too were soft greens like mint and aqua. Not unlike today, women tended to wear lighter, softer colors during summer months. Pastels were always appropriate for bright spring and summer days.
What fabrics were popular in the 1940s?
During the mid-20th century, manufacturing changed the way that clothing was created. This is most apparent when looking at fabrics. During the 1940s, synthetic fabrics like rayon, acetate, and nylon were becoming more prevalent and more popular. Rayon was a favorite among women during this decade because it could mimic expensive textiles but at a much lower cost. Silk, for example, was rare during World War II because it was rationed for use in military parachutes. Rayon with a silky sheen became a more appropriate alternative.
With that said, classic fabrics like wool and cotton were also a staple of women’s clothing. Many women’s dresses from the 1940s were made of cotton because it was a breathable, easy to wear fabric. Suiting separates were typically manufactured from wool or its lightweight counterpart flannel. Tulle or net fabrics were also popular when it came to formal wear, like bridal gowns or prom dresses.
What prints were popular in the 1940s?
In 1940s fashion, prints were reserved for casual dresses or daywear. The prints that were used, however, were incredibly vibrant. Floral prints used in clothing during this decade was much more colorful than floral prints that had been seen on clothing from previous decades. Another iconic print from ‘40s fashion was the polka dot print. Many daytime dresses featured small white polka dots boldly emblazoned on a blue, red, or green background.
In addition to florals and polka dots, many prints that we see today were used in clothing from this era. Plaids and ginghams were incredibly common during this era. So too were delicate pinstripes in bold colors. No matter the print, lace trim was a ladylike detail that was common on women’s clothing from the 1940s.