How to dress up like a woman from the 1940s

Written by nicholas smith
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How to dress up like a woman from the 1940s
Berets were popular fashion accessories in the 1940s. (beauty girl portrait in outer clothing beret image by Anatoly Tiplyashin from

The 1940s were a challenging period for the United States, as the nation reeled from the effects of its involvement in the second World War. As challenging a period as it was for the country, bright spots existed. For example, women were able to develop a distinct fashion sense that many look back on with nostalgia today. Women's fashion developed into clothing featuring padded shoulders, narrow hips and various styled hats. Those looking to replicate this fashion from the 1940s can do so by collecting or buying clothing in styles common to that era.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Add a sculptural or architectural hat, such as a beret, to your collection. These hats were common in the 1940s, and were accessorised by flowers, feathers and fur. You can even include hats with rolled brims, beading, sequins. Feel free to match the hat with a tailored blazer, skinny jeans, a miniskirt and high heels.

  2. 2

    Wear a pencil skirt and jacket combination, a style common to 1940s women's fashion. You can accessorise this look by adding leather or suede gloves, stockings, matching scarves, patent Mary Janes or 'moc croc' bags. Alternatively, wear a wrap dress, featuring diagonal lines that create flattering v necklines. You can add a thick or thin belt to the dress.

  3. 3

    Wear high-waisted trousers, also popular in the 1940s. These trousers work for those with different shapes and sizes. You can get high-waisted trousers in several different materials and styles, including tweed and heavy wools. Pair the trousers with a lighter fabric, such as a silk blouse. This look offers you a sultry, sophisticated look.

  4. 4

    Pair your outfits with wood-soled wedges, a staple in the 1940s. Also, round-toed pumps were popular in the decade. Remember that during the World War, leather was restricted to military use, requiring shoe designers to get clever with materials used to design shoes. Fancy trims or embellishments on shoes were kept to a minimum.

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