Thursday, January 3, 2013

History Lesson: 1930s & 40s Fashion

Many of my vintage fashion purchases from the past year have been from the 1930s and 1940s. From my perspective as a vintage clothing seller on Etsy, I’d like to share what draws me to this particular era.
I don’t regularly wear hats (I’m self-conscious and am never sure if I should be adding extra height to my already 6-foot tall frame). But if I did wear hats, I would definitely be wearing fashions from the 1930s & 1940s. Fruit, flowers, unique shapes, felted wool in unique patterns adorned these beauties; hats from this era are wearable art.

Wide brim straw hat, Poppycock Vintage


Celluloid necklace, The Collected Collage
I love everything about jewelry from this era - the shapes, colors and materials. Jewelry styles carried over from the earlier decades of the 20th century, specifically art deco and art nouveau. In the 1930s, celluloid jewelry was popular; chain link necklaces with celluloid charms shaped like leaves, flowers and fruit were especially popular. In the 1940s, many of the necklaces were made of stone, glass beads, and Bakelite.

Bakelite brooches, like this one from
Reverse Chronology, were popular in the 1940s
Glass beaded choker, Blue Fennel Vintage


Corde evening purse, Callooh Callay
My Fair Lady lucite purse, DOTTO
Similar to jewelry, antique handbags were constructed out of a variety of unique materials. Lucite and corde were commonplace, along with the perennial favorites of tapestry and beading. (My personal favorite are definitely the unique telephone cord purses!)

Telephone cord purse, Ginny & Harriot


When I think of shoes from the 1940s, I think of big band music and swing dancing. Many shoes from this time period were perfect for dancing with their beautiful lines and large, solid heels.

Leather Mary Jane heels, Honey Talk Vintage
Black & white spectator heels, 4 birdsvintage


Rayon print dress, Petrune

Wool skirt & sweater set, Miss Farfalla
There is way too much to say about dresses from the 30s and 40s in one post, so I’ll keep it to my favorite trends. The 1930s-1940s produced a variety of beautiful knit dresses. They come in both manmade and natural fibers, and they are comfortable, flattering, and easy to wear.

My other favorite trend was novelty prints (yes, I love colors and patterns). Many of these prints look as fashionable today as they did 70-80 years ago.

Jackets and Suits 

Finally, you can’t talk about the 1940s without mentioning jackets and suits. 1940s suits were the precursor to the 80s power suit, but in my opinion, so much more stylish. Not only did they have strong shoulders, they were made to fit the figure closely, and were constructed out of beautiful, sturdy fabrics, most typically wools and linens.

Linen suit, Hollie Point Vintage
Sreen siren suit, Wildfell Hall Vintage


Miss Magpies Shoppe said...

Wonderful post, Stephanie, I just loved reading it! I have always been a fan of the 30's and 40's fashion era. I enjoy watching old movies that depict the clothes of that time. Sometimes I think I was born too late :)

Jackie said...

Excellent post! I too favor telephone cord purses!

The Vintage Resource said...

Thanks Stephanie...great read!

HilltopTimes said...

Oh my gosh, Stephanie, this is wonderful. I couldn't stop reading and staring at the fabulous photos. So well done! Thank you so much!

Anathalia said...

Lovely post!

Callooh Callay said...

Oh I love this--those shoes are the best!
Thanks for featuring my corde purse!

gazaboo said...

Stephanie this is great! I can certainly see that appeal in these fantastic styles. Wonderful that these beautiful items have lasted over the years and are just as fashionable today.

CakeNumber9 said...

What a lesson! Thanks so much for sharing!

Andrea Holding said...

Truly a fabulous era for fashion! Great post!

Whimzy Thyme said...

Stephanie ---- Fabulous post. I love it all. When I worked a 9 to 5 I would wear 1940s suites all the time and loved them. I love the handbags and the jewelry. I so wish I could wear the hats as they are gorgeous. Thank you so much.

Niftic Vintage said...

This is Sensational! LOVE, love that telephone cord bag! Thanks for finding us such wonderful beauties to drool over!

Wicked Darling said...

Stephanie, I adore this!! What a fabulous post!! Thanks for sharing this!! :)

Elise said...

what an awesome post! I love all the photos and info!! those green shoes are calling me ;)

ProjectSarafan said...

Gorgeous shoes and I absolutely love the little black clutch!

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