In the face of World War II, high fashion stood at a halt in the 1940s. As fashion trends do, however, daily fashions emerged and changed during the decade. While the early '40s lagged in the fashion world, for children and adults, the latter part of the decade sped up in the world of fashion. Boys and girls of the era were dressed according to the times, which focused on the simple and necessary during rationing periods for the war, and a little less sacrifice when the war was over.
Girls' Daily Wear
For girls growing up in the '40s, the clothing staple was dresses. Flower print dresses were popular in the early part of the decade. Whether girls were visiting friends at their homes or playing in the park with their siblings, they usually wore dresses. During the winter months, girls wore dresses with tights and jackets. Rarely, girls wore slacks during the winter.
Both boys and girls wore saddle shoes in the early 1940s. The saddle shoe was primarily popular with the teenagers of the era. The style tended to be more popular with teenage girls than boys, but both sexes wore saddle shoes. The shoes were worn with white socks. The primary difference between the girls' saddle shoes and the boys' were that the girls' shoes had a slight heel. In the latter part of the decade, boys began wearing Keds sneakers.
In the early 1940s, it was common to see boys wearing knickers. As the decade wore on, this style of trousers became less popular for boys. In the latter part of the decade, blue jeans became a staple for boys' trousers. Younger boys began to wear shorts in place of knickers. Teenagers, however, exchanged their knickers for long trousers.
Rationing during World War II cut off shipments of specific materials, including silk. This led to nylon fashions for girls and boys alike. The fabric shortage even dictated short hem lengths for girls' dresses and the number of pockets that children's outfits could contain. In addition, the fabric shortage introduced the cotton T-shirt to boys' fashion. By the end of the era, girls and boys both wore denim frequently, especially jeans.