Monday, 24 January 2011

Forties Fashion #2: Evening Wear 1940

For the second in this series of fashion posts from my recently-acquired 1940s Fashion Sourcebook the focus is on evening wear; even at the height of war the pursuit of pleasure and entertainment was still in evidence - one might almost say more so as a result of the hard times and dark days of 1940. Already there are some small examples of the make do and mend attitude creeping into these clothes, though, as you will see.

The first outfit (left) consists of a black silk-jersey dinner dress (shaped neckline, fitted bodice, full-length inset sleeves and ankle-length flared skirt) with yellow-gold tissue for the pleated front panels; matching turban hat with large bow trim; a narrow, clasp-fastening belt and black peep-toe suede shoes. Sounds quite striking, doesn't it?
These next three ladies wear - top: a deep-blue fine wool-crepe evening dress (low V-neck, ruched-shaped side panel of self-fabric from hip level to under deep-scooped armholes, slender bodice and skirt cut in flared panels with no waist seam) and silver kid strap sandals.
Bottom left: full-length royal blue silk taffeta evening dress (wide square neckline, brooch trim at each point, matching band of royal blue on hem of pale violet skirt).
Bottom right: fine black wool dinner dress (bloused bodice, V-neck, gathered shaping from asymmetric insert with black sequined embroidered motif); black and grey fox-fur stole and black satin strap sandals.

Now on to an area I am more familiar with (I have to be honest, I may as well have been typing "blah blah, V-neck, blahblahblah, skirt, blah blah" for all the sense the ladies wear terms make to me!) - menswear! This dashing fellow (right) sports: two-piece black wool evening suit (double-breasted jacket with wide lapels faced with black silk, white silk handkerchief in breast pocket and straight-cut trousers with no turn-ups [no turn-ups on evening suit trousers, of course. There's also no mention of silk braiding but for the record one should wear single braid trousers with black tie (informal) and double braid when in white tie (formal). We can forgive this chap though, after all there was a war on - material was probably scarce!]); white cotton shirt with black silk bow tie (and you must tie it yourself - if I can do it, so can anyone. Pre-tied bow ties are just plain wrong); black patent leather lace-up shoes.

Well, there you have it. I feel like getting suited up for a night at the dance hall, or possibly the theatre, after that! Mustn't forget the overcoat and hat!


  1. I quite fancy the black silk jersey dinner dress for myself

  2. I would love a time machine right now!

    And thankyou very much for the blog award :-) My internet's been broke for a while so it was a very welcome surprise today!

    Laura xx


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