Tuesday, 14 April 2015


The ‘40s are bursting with so many exciting styles that it’s hard not to be a little lost for where to begin. As the warm weather rolls in, we’ve created a shortlist of our favourite ‘40s summer trends. 

The Tea Dress
Whenever we think of ‘40s fashion, a good old tea dress instantly comes to mind. Nipped in at the waist, tea dresses often featured a sweetheart neckline, puffed sleeves, and the most charming prints: vibrant florals, polka dots, birds and leaves swirling across fabric. The dress’s fitted bodice and loose skirt are a nod towards the mid-Victorian silhouette, when it was first worn. The Victorian tea dress, made of light, floaty fabric, was a style that prioritised comfort in an era of constricting undergarments, but was accessorised with fur, jewellery, parasols and fans. Not quite so casual then . . .

Tropical Prints
Palm trees and hibiscus flowers in full bloom set against turquoise and terracotta backgrounds- this is perhaps the prettiest print to wear over the summer. Montgomery Cliff, Burt Lancaster and Frank Sinatra wore Hawaiian shirts in From Here to Eternity, Betty Grable did a pin-up shoot in a Hawaiian swimsuit, while Ida Lupino’s matching crop top and long skirt combo gave the print a touch of elegance.

Swing Trousers
Despite cropping up in late Victorian and Edwardian active wear and the flapper pyjamas of the ‘20s, trousers weren't seen as acceptable mainstream fashion until the ‘30s were well under way- film studios tried to stop Katherine Hepburn wearing trousers between takes in case she was snapped up in them outside. Thanks to their practicality, trousers began to be worn by working women during World War II and, as the ‘40s went on, began to be worn as everyday attire. Their high waist and wide leg makes swing trousers a perfect summer garment.

In 1932, tennis star Alice Marble wore knee-length A-line trousers to a match. By the ‘40s, Rita Hayworth sported a simple pair accessorized with delicate ruffles, Ginger Rogers showed us how layering was done by wearing a polka-dot playsuit under an overcoat, while Ann Sheridan matched her shorts with her top and headscarf.

Nautical Influences
The beginning of World War II brought military influences to the forefront of fashion, as influential Parisian and London fashion houses were forced to close. Instead, people began to look to Hollywood actresses, who wore nautical inspired garments on screen, for their fashion fix. The colourful hues of the ‘30s stripe transformed to focus on the old red, white and blue in a show of patriotism. '40s sailor dresses gave traditional navy uniforms an elegant yet playful twist: pleated dresses accessorized with square collars, sailor-tie bows and buttons shaped like anchors and stars.

Words by Anam Rahim