1940s Teen Fashions

Written by allison boyer
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1940s Teen Fashions
(George Marks/Retrofile/Getty Images)

During the 1940s, fashion didn't take a break, despite the limited clothing options because of World War II. As men learnt to make do with fewer suits and women learnt to repurpose old clothing and mend tears, teens became innovative to make the most of what was available during this time period.


Teenage girls were encouraged to wear trousers in the 1940s more than they had ever been in the past. Trousers provided more warmth and were safer for older girls who got wartime jobs. In addition, when families purchased trousers, they could be passed from one teen to the next as children grew up, regardless of gender.

Aloha Shirts

Aloha shirts, or Hawaiian shirts, became fashionable because men in the military often brought them home after being stationed in the Hawaiian Islands. While some girls also took fashion inspiration from Hawaii, Aloha shirts were almost exclusively worn casually by teen boys.


Fashion for teen boys and teen girls during the 1940s was simple and without much embellishment. Manufacturers used as little fabric as possible to make clothing, and extras such as lace and buttons were not used. Because of the lack of fabric, clothing in general got more risque, and teens especially embraced the shortening skirts and fewer layers.


Since Americans in the 1940s didn't have access to fashion from Paris and other European cities, fashion houses in this country began developing their own styles. The 1940s gave birth to sportswear in the United States, with teens often at the forefront of embracing these drastically different styles.


Because clothing was minimal and often second-hand in the 1940s, teen girls spent more time creating elaborate hairstyles. Hats were also often very elaborate because they were not rationed as clothing was.

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