I saw this on FamilySearch – 1940s Fashion: Women’s and Men’s Clothing Worn, 1940–1950: https://www.familysearch.org/blog/en/1940s-fashion-women-men/.
World War II dominated the first half of the 1940s as well as fashions in the Western world. Materials such as silk, nylon, wool, leather, rubber, and zippers were needed in wartime production. Clothing was rationed in the United States and parts of Europe. 1940s fashion designers had to be efficient and innovative in how they made suits, dresses, and shoes.
The Effect of War on Fashion
Millions of people dressed differently during the war. Men and women wore military uniforms. Many women donned laborer’s clothing, such as coveralls or trousers. In many situations, people had to make do with older or repurposed clothing rather than purchasing new styles and designs. Because of shortages and regulations, wealthier and poorer people were more likely to be dressed similarly.
However, the war caused greater regional variety in clothing styles. Paris, the longtime center of Western fashion, was cut off during the German occupation. Designers in other places gained more influence in their own countries. In several countries, laws regulated the garment industry, and manufacturers had less ability to distribute internationally.
1940s Fashion for Women
Popular Dress Styles in the 1940s
The typical 1940s female dress silhouette was like a uniform: simple and fitted, with boxy shoulders, a slim-belted waistline, and a hemline below the knee. The style shown here is for a utility dress from the United Kingdom that could be purchased with ration coupons. In cold weather, you might see women in long-sleeved dress suits of a similar shape.