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Tuesday 16 October 2012

Fabulous Forties fashions

You may not know the name David Wright but I'm almost certain that you'll have seen his images. He's best known for his 'lovelies', illustrations pin-ups in varied stages of reveal which were at their peak of popularity in the Second World War. Art Meets Matter have produced eight notebooks based on his designs for £10 each. While not all of them are to my taste (more boobs than I like on my stationery), I found myself in awe of the coiffed hair and yellow shoulder pads of the beauty pictured, whose probably the most fully clothed of the notebooks.

Which in turn made me think about 1940s fashion. People don't seem to swoon over it in the same terms as its neighbouring decades, the 1930s or the 1950s, but personally I find it absolutely fascinating. Shortages in material due to the war forcing designers to innovate with styles and material and the ultra-femininity promoted by people like Wright, then made into reality with Dior's 1947 New Look, set against a workforce of women who'd done their bit in the war and maybe didn't want to head straight back into the home. That all makes for some interesting clothes. So, for a little change to the usual fashion silhouettes, I decided to have a search around for the best 40s and 40s-inspired fashions:

For a while after reading Jonathan Walford's inspiring Forties Fashion book, my standard ASOS search was simply '1940s'. Try it, it's a great way of turning up wearable tea dresses. It's exactly that search which lead me to the beautiful A Wear 40s Peplum dress. The fitted bodice and covered buttons, the gorgeous dragonfly pattern, even the often controversial peplum, it's an undeniably sophisticated look which looks like it costs far more than its £50 price-tag.

Or, for the real thing, take a look at this silk jersey dress, one of many gorgeous dresses currently being sold on ebay by advantage in vintage. You've got until Sunday to make your bid.

Now for the shoes. Revival Retro started out when its owner found it hard to find shoes suitable for swing dancing. They now stock a range of repro shoes from the 1920s and 30s, as well as the 1940s, for dancing and everyday life too. These red Eva shoes are femme fatale worthy, alas with a fatally high price tag attached.

More repro care of the always fabulous Vivien of Holloway. They have a range of 1940s dresses but I'd like to say ahoy to these 1940s swing trousers, currently reduced in the sale to £35. They're based on a real Second World War pattern and a nice challenge to the thought that all woman in the 40s were wandering round in states of semi-undress contrary to whatever David Wright's images might suggest.

And for a finishing touch, a bag naturally. This Christmas-ready silver 1940s bag comes from Galatea's shop on ASOS marketplace. Snap it up for only £15 and get going on creating your own New Look.

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