Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Clara's 1940s Day Dress

World War II had a huge impact on fashion in the early 1940s. Some clothing mimicked military uniforms (think shoulder pads), but mostly fashion was dictated by shortages in fabric and trim as supplies were disrupted and factories converted to war production. Neat tailored dresses — using minimal fabric and trim — were popular, with plain waists, narrow knee-length skirts, pockets at the hips, and gathers at the neck or waist.

Colors were conservative, fabrics plain. But with everyone wanting to look their best to counteract the worries of the war, hair was one way that women could dress up. Shoulder-length hair was worn in elaborate curls and rolls, copying the popular movie stars of the day.

Shoes in the 1940s were generally mary janes, oxfords, pumps, or sandals. Heels were increasing in popularity, varying from low to high, including wedges. Clara's peep-toe pumps have the taller Continental Heels, also called High Cuban or French heels. 

Tan stockings were popular, and always had a seam down the back of the calf. The challenge was to keep the seam straight. My grandmother told stories about drawing a line on the back of her legs when nylon stockings could no longer be bought due to war shortages. The only alternative to nylon at the time was rayon. Sold as  "Victory Stockings," the rayon stockings bunched, stretched, and sagged. So bare, tanned legs with a painted line were very much preferred to the wrinkly stockings.

The original dress was a blue denim colored dress. The shoes were back patent leather.


To print Clara's dress, use this PDF file:


Clara is a free, printable paper doll. Clara will be available on this blog as long as I continue to post new fashion pages for her. You can read the introduction for the Clara paper doll here.

To print the Clara paper doll, use this PDF file: