What Did People Wear in the 1940s?

In the early 1940s, women wore suits with square shoulders and short skirts. Near the end of the decade, skirts became long and full. Before World War II, hats were tiny, and bags were large. Shoes had high, thick heels. After the start of World War II, bags were smaller, and shoes had heels that were high and slender. Nylon replaced silk for stockings, and costume jewelry was fashionable.

Though men's fashion changed more slowly than women's, in the 1940s men who weren't in uniform wore single- or double-breasted jackets with wide, padded shoulders and lapels. The jackets also had flap and breast pockets and were often made out of synthetics. Though worn less and less, the cloth of men's waistcoats matched their jackets and were collarless.

Trousers were wide, pleated from the waist and had wide hems. The cloth matched that of the jacket. Gray flannel with white stripes was popular. Shirts made of plain or striped cotton in subdued blues, browns and grays had long collars that ended in points.

Men also wore hats, mostly trilbies or homburgs. When the war ended, ties could again be made of sumptuous fabrics such as silk, which was requisitioned during the war.