1940's Fashion
Logan Fincannon


Babushka - a scarf or hankerchief worn over the hair, appeared around 1938, as part of the peasant look.
Bermuda shorts - long men's shorts, popular during warm weather months
Bobby socks (sox) - white ankle socks, worn by young girls and teenagers, typically with saddle shoes, starting in the early-mid 40's.
Cloche - a close fitting, bell-shapped hat worn pulled down over one's forehead. Typically associated with the bobbed hair of the 1920's and 30's.
Dirndle - a skrit with a gathered waistline, part of the peasant look of the late 1930's.
Chemise - a slip like dress, also used to refer to a slip.
Jodphers - riding pants, designed to wear boots. Often worn for weekend or work wear. British Land Army uniforms, and early U.S. uniforms both have jodphers.
Juliet - a women's hairstyle in which the crown is smooth and the hair is curled into a fluff just below the ears. Based on Norma Shearer's hairstyle in the movie Juliet.
Knickerbockers - short knee length pants, also known as knickers that were typically worn by golfers, baseball players, and young boys. This style pant was phasing out of fashion for everyone except baseball players by the 1940's, although still pictured in the sears catalog for young boys.
Saddle Shoes - originally designed as athletic shoes, often worn by teenage girls. Sears catalog shows them with worn with both socks and stockings, and with either a red or white sole. Note, period examples seem to usually have a heel.
Sloppy Joe Sweater - long, baggy pullover sweater, commonly worn with blue jeans. Typically worn by teenage girls in highschool or college.
Spectators - two toned shoes for men or women, usually in either pump, wedge or oxford form.
Swing Skirt - a full, round cut, or flared skirt that was designed to "swing out" when jitterbugging. Often worn with the sloppy joe sweater. Mid-late 1940's.
Zoot Suit - a men's suit, with tapered, tight cuffed pants, and a long coat with wide lapels. Often topped with a wide brimmed fedora. Often pinstriped and can be found in many colors. Originated in New York, and are often associated with young men who were unable to serve in WWII because they were 4F.
Snood - a crocheted or knitted sack that's worn over and around one's hair, usually pinned on the lower part of one's head. Sometimes it's pinned to a hat, or other head piece, and sometimes it's worn as evening wear in the absence of a headpiece.
Bakelite- a popular plastic used to make jewlery, buttons, knobs and other household items.
Peplum - gathered fabric or extra fabric that hangs below the waist line.
Here's a list showing the items as rationed for women and girls. || Item Of Clothing || Women || Girls || ||
|| Lined mackintosh or coat over 28" || 14 || 11 ||
|| Under 28" short coat or jacket || 11 || 8 ||
|| Frock, gown or dress of wool || 11 || 8 ||
|| Frock, gown or dress of other fabric || 7 || 5 ||
|| Bodice with girls skirt or gym tunic || 8 || 6 ||
|| Pyjamas || 8 || 6 ||
|| Divided skirt or skirt || 7 || 5 ||
|| Nightdress || 6 || 5 ||
|| Dungarees or overalls || 6 || 4 ||
|| Blouse, shirt, sports top, cardigan or jumper || 5 || 3 ||
|| Pair of slippers, boots or shoes || 5 || 3 ||
|| Other garments including corsets || 5 || 2 ||
|| Petticoat or slip, cami knickers or combinations || 4 || 3 ||
|| Apron or pinafore || 3 || 2 ||
|| Scarf, gloves, mittens or muff || 2 || 2 ||
|| Stockings per pair || 2 || 1 ||
|| Ankle socks per pair || 1 || 1 ||
|| 1 yard wool cloth 36" wide || 3 || 3 ||
|| 2 ounces of wool knitting yarn || 1 || 1 ||


Teen lives in the 1940’s
It wasn't until the late 1940s that kids were called "teenagers." Zoot suits (like the one in the movie "Mask" with Jim Carey), bobby-soxers, soda shops (young men working behind the counters were called, "soda jerks.") There were "sock hops" and the dancing style was "Jitter Bug" similar to the Jive dances of the 1950s. It was also the big band era and the likes of Benny Goodman would get the teenagers up and jitter bugging. Teenagers also learned to ballroom dance! Those teenagers that were lucky enough to have a car had a "jalopy" which was basically a beat-up old car that they learned how to work on and brought back to life. To this day in antique car shows you can still see some of these magnificent jalopies.

NO SEX, JUST MARRIAGE: In the 40s girls seldom could date until they were 16 and had to be home early. The parents ACTUALLY MET the young man and he'd better have good manners and bring their daughter home at the time agreed upon and in good shape! Teenagers never lived with their boyfriends, but dated and yes, there were "lover's lanes" and this is where the term "submarine races" was dubbed. The code between the kids was, "We're going submarine watching." There were some girls who became unwed mothers during this time, but they were either whisked away to homes for unwed mothers or sent off to a relative’s home in another town or State. Girls that smoked and had sex got a bad reputation and were classified as "easy" and snubbed by her peers and neighbors. It wasn't until the mid-40s when the likes of Bette Davis and other actors were seen smoking on the silver screen that many young women took up smoking and it became acceptable.

AFTER SCHOOL DUTIES & FAMILY LIFE: The father was usually employed, a stay at home mother, and two school-aged children or more. Families actually sat down for dinner and connected with each other and Sundays were a day of rest for the families to spend quality time with each other. This profile only fits 5% of U.S. families today. During the 1940s teenagers and their parents were very close. Some parents who supported the war effort left their teenagers unattended and could rely on them to take care of the duties at home. After school in the 1940s a teenager would go home, change clothes and to to work. If your family was poor, you would work hard after school or you did not even get to go to school, but worked all day and all of your earnings would go to the family. There were not a lot of high-paying jobs available and some jobs paid 25 cents an hour as a bus boy in a restaurant which added up to $5 a week and was considered fairly good money. Girls would often work at the YMCA as a locker room attendant for 66 cents an hour. Teaching swimming, working at a pizza place, working in warehouses or as waitress'. There were delivery boys at the fish market, soda jerks and ushers in theaters.

1940s EDUCATION: If you stepped into a 1940s classroom you'd see girls making dresses, hats, learning to do laundry in the correct way and beauty culture and boys trained hard in physical education (football as well) which really kept the boys in shape for war. Educators knew that young people and their parents would choose school over work only if it served a practical purpose. In response, schools offered vocational and commercial courses from dress-making to bookkeeping. Growing numbers of young people soon filled technical schools. Schools taught lessons in family life, hygiene and health. If a student wasn't gaining anything from a college-prep curriculum they were given "life adjustment eduction." In 1940, 8 out 10 boys who graduated from school went to war and more than half of the population of the U.S. had completed no more than 8th grade. In 1945 50% of 17 year olds were high school graduates. Today, more than 13 million teenagers report to public high school classes across the U.S.

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