Book Review: Forties Fashion

The 1940s was an interesting and decisive decade across the globe.  With the Second World War we faced a period in which nearly all aspects of our lives were asked to change.  From the warfare itself to the clothes we wore, the 1940s left an impression.  The impression it created in the fashion world is laid out beautifully in Jonathan Walford’s book, which is simply titled Forties Fashion.

Walford begins his whirlwind history of how the war changed fashion by explaining the last Paris fashion show before the war, in which extravagant style was to be all the rage, with sweeping skirts and long sleeves.  But when war came, fashion took a major turn.  Walford discusses the deep rooted politics behind fashion during the war – from the logical efforts of rationing to the propaganda of Germany’s idealistic Gretchen.

Fashion became trim and practical during the war, as women entered the work force in record numbers.  From pants to turbans, it’s all covered in this fantastic and in-depth look into 40s frocks.  Even included is an extensive detailed list of all the sewing restrictions for US fashion! This dandy guide will help you determine the date of patterns and garments!  There is a fantastic look into the millinery trends of the 40s, explaining the rise of big and silly concoctions such as my bird topper and the trend of turbans.

The end of the war didn’t mark the end of 40s fashion, it created what became known as the New Look.  The war itself was responsible for so much of the fashion that occurred after victory was declared.

I can’t even begin to explain how highly I recommend this book – it is the bible for those who love the 1940s!  The book can be purchased on Amazon, and for those in the Portland area, I know Powell’s has several copies in stock.

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