What Did Women Wear in the 1940's?

During the 1940s, women often wore tailored suits, knee-length skirts, blouses with padded shoulders or slacks. In the late '40s, the style began to better acknowledge the feminine form.

May 16, 1940, later commemorated as "Nylon Day," embraced the popularity of nylon hosiery when four million pairs went to American stores and sold out within two days.

World War II had a significant impact on clothing in the United States. The scarcity of certain materials caused manufacturers to turn to synthetic fibers, and styles took on a utilitarian look. Women were encouraged to make clothing themselves or restyle older clothes to freshen them up. Manufacturers were required to limit their use of fabric by avoiding things like lined skirts, hoods, wide sleeves and wide waistbands.

Women did what they could with minimal materials, such as creating complex hairstyles or simulating stockings with makeup. They drew lines on their legs with eyeliner pencil to approximate a seam. Companies even began marketing products like Liquid Stockings. Some handy women made clothing out of old blankets, sheets or nightgowns.

After the war, the "New Look" was developed, which emphasized a nipped waist and longer skirts using more cloth. Throughout the decade, teenage girls favored sweaters and bobby socks.