How to Dress in 1940s Fashion

In the early 1940s, traditional fabrics such as silk and wool were rationed to be used for World War II soldiers uniforms and blankets. As a result, women's hemlines rose, clothes fit closer to the body, and embellishments such as pleats and cuffs were no longer found in both men's and women's clothing.

Get a tailored jacket. For women, find a jacket that fits closely to the body, and has few, if any, embellishments and ends below the waist. Men's tailored jackets at the time were traditional, single-breasted suit coats.

Find men's pants with no cuff or pleats to match the style of the era, thanks to World War II.

Buy dresses. In the early 1940s, the clothing style for women were dresses that were tailored closely to the waist with a medium-full skirt and the hem just below the knee. The mid- to late-1940s saw skirts that were fitted more narrowly down the body and were referred to as a pencil skirt.

Choose shoes with rounded toes for both men and women. Women's shoes had a lower "stacked" heel than the higher, stiletto heels of previous decades. Saddle shoes were extremely popular for both men and women during the 1940s.

Go for a Zoot suit. Even though fabric was rationed, Zoot suits that featured long suit jackets and baggy pants that tapered in at the ankle were a popular men's fashion trend during this time period.


Look for jackets with shoulder pads. During this decade, women's jackets had broad, masculine style shoulder pads and tapered at the waist. If you can't find dresses that are tailored closely at the waist, buy a belt. Belts were also a popular trend for women in the 1940s.


Buy bigger sizes. Vintage sizes are not the same as modern sizes, so when you are looking for clothes to dress in the 1940s style, buy bigger sizes than the sizes you currently wear.

Things You'll Need

  • Dresses
  • Single-breasted suits
  • Rounded-toe shoes
  • Pants with no pleats
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