What Did Girls Wear in the 1940s?

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Female fashions in the 1940s were influenced by World War II, and tailored suits, squared shoulders and mid-length skirts with narrow hips were fashionable. Clothing was utilitarian, with few frills or embellishments.

During this decade, women and girls were encouraged to make their own clothing in order to conserve material. Instead of purchasing or sewing new outfits, they often updated old clothing to fit new trends and styles.

Wartime saw the rise of pants for women and girls, and Hollywood icons such as Katharine Hepburn and Rita Hayworth were seen sporting wide-legged trousers. The fashion trends of the early 1940s emphasized utility, and many women turned to slacks as a comfortable alternative to skirts and dresses. Nonetheless, skirts were still worn during the 1940s; they were tailored to hit right below the knee and were often paired with blouses with padded shoulders.

After the war was over, women’s fashions began to transition from the utilitarian to the feminine. The predominant style of the late 1940s was Christian Dior’s “New Look.” This new fashion trend emphasized defined waists, rounded shoulders and full skirts. Young girls began wearing bobby socks, knee-length skirts, saddle shoes and sweaters. This style continued to be popular throughout the 1950s.