ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Fashion and Beauty»
  • History of Fashion

Women’s Fashion - 1940s to 1960s

Updated on February 3, 2018
viryabo profile image

I look at today's fashion and see how it is inspired by vintage style. The character & uniqueness of old age chic ...That's what I love!

By the beginning of the 1930s, fashion design and haute couture clothing style stepped down a "few notches" to be more compromising, and the times called for a balance between preserving the feminine look and re-discovering simple elegance.

Fashion designers created clothing that became more romantic with "soft" feminine looks. Waistlines returned as the flapper style clothes of the 20's faded out and hemlines became longer.


The bust line re-appears accentuating the woman's silhouette, and the backless evening gowns and slim fitting day dresses once again become appreciated.

These great years in fashion history soon moved into war times, and as fashion soon became a frivolity, utility range of clothing evolved.

Austere Styles of the 40's

At the time, it was trendy to appear in uniforms because uniformed men and women was a common sight and were seen all over the place.

Uniforms were worn to special events and ceremonies and this "fashion" trend continued after the end of the 2nd World War in 1945.

Because the war called for austerity measures, being flippant was frowned upon. Women had to make do with whatever apparel they had and often recycled their once glamorous clothing of the “hey days” to make nice dresses.

Vintage 40s Dresses

Ration Fashion of the 1940's
Ration Fashion of the 1940's | Source

The strictness of rationing made women 'make do and mend' because absolutely nothing must go to waste.

Cases abound where people had to use whatever textiles they could lay their hands on to make their clothes, including fabrics such as parachute silk.

They even had to unravel old and worn socks to make cardigans and neck scarves.

Women style of attires changed and their wardrobes include simple and practical clothes like:

  • Trousers for practicability and convenience
  • Boxy jackets or tops with nipped in waists
  • Skirts and simple blouses
  • Turbans and head-scarves

No fashionable styles were promoted during these times and apparel manufacturers were encouraged by the government to produce a utility range of clothing.

The clothes produced were also subject to austerity regulations which restricted the yardage of cloth used for any garment's design.

This was evident where pockets were discouraged, men's turn up trousers banned, and limits imposed on shirt lengths.

50s Women Clothing Styles

The 50’s represent different things to different people, but it certainly was a time of growth, capitalism, conservatism, and anti-communism, and a return to fashionably designed clothes and fresh new styles.

Along with changes in the rest of life, fashion was undergoing many of its own changes too. The 50's fashion was greatly influenced by things like music, idols, the movies, etc.., and clothing styles quite often meant taking luxury to the extreme.

It was like a new femininity was discovered and this reflected greatly in couture fashion. Clothes styles became more conventional, and women wore scarlet lipstick and bright red fingernails.

Christian Dior's new look influenced softer shoulders, corseted waists, and fuller long skirts held in place by flared stiff petticoats.

Corsets were an essential in a woman's wardrobe because the ideal body shape for the 50's fashion was the hour-glass (figure eight) shape. Provocative and sexy strapless gowns demanded the use of strapless brassieres and every woman of style had them.


Daytime styles were very feminine, designed to remind every woman that she's a woman and because she had "gone without" during the war years, she deserves this luxury. It was "death to utility clothing", and the years of deprivation.

Apparel designs were often ultra glamorous and stylish, and most young girls were influenced by Marilyn Monroe and guys by James Dean. The high fashion women wore luxuriously feminine low-necked evening dresses, or boned strapless dresses in taffetas, lace, nets, tulle, and chiffon, satin and sometimes nylon.

And people in the art community preferred baggy clothes such as raincoats and over-sized sweaters and pressed or wrinkled suits.

Trendy apparel of the fifties includes:

  • Skirts, sweaters, and full circle skirts
  • Cocktail dresses with corolla bosoms
  • Attires shocking pink colours
  • Double apron day dresses
  • Hugely bloused tops in the style of an artist's smock
  • Very tight skirts
  • Blouses with Peter Pan collars.

Balenciaga and Balmain were popular Parisian haute couture designers whose styles were modified for the average woman.

Other fashionable styles include:

  • Pinafore dresses and polo neck jumpers
  • Crisp white blouses and some sensible but elegant shoes for secretaries
  • Leotards with long circular skirts and stoles
  • Corduroy smocks and knicker-bucker suits

Vintage Fashion Quiz [with Images] . . . So, how much of a pro are you? How much do you know of vintage fashion and its history? How much do you know about some of the people behind those great trends?

1950's Fashion

Fabulous Fashionable Styles of the 50's
Fabulous Fashionable Styles of the 50's | Source

60s Style

In the 60's, fashion houses encountered a subtle revolt from the youths - hippies and mods. They felt Parisian couture need not have the "exclusive rights" to fashion and style.

There evolved an internationalization of the fashion scene, and the rich and trendy soon shopped as happily in London or Paris as they did in New York or Rome.

The French no longer enjoyed the exclusive rights to haute couture fashion in the 60's, and though still reckoned with even today, the youth of the 1960's fashion scene demanded a deviation from their high-end styles.

Fashion was initially carried over from the 50's, but they only seemed to look great on older and mature women, and that meant drab to the young and upcoming "fashionistas".

And then, little shops called boutiques promoting fashion design clothes started to spring up, and suddenly, haute couture took on a different perspective.


Designers introduced bold and loud colours into their creations; the skirts became shorter, thus culminating in the mini clothes and the quintessential girlie look of the 60's.

Designer clothes of a decade earlier that were slim-line and tubular gave way to flared skirts and tentative beginnings of the A-line skirts.

Soon after, skirts and dresses came in varying lengths -midi and maxi, and these cuts would remain popular for about fifteen years, until the late 70's.

Stockings were outdated because skirts and dresses became shorter, and tights became an essential clothing accessory creating a neat, uncluttered and long legged look.

By the end of the sixties, fashion started to change as hems began to drop again and bright bold coloured fabrics with psychedelic patterns were used for both men and women’s wear, an influence heightened by the hippie movement.

1960s Fashion

1960's Fashion Style
1960's Fashion Style | Source

Famous fashion designers and boutiques of the sixties include:

  • Mary Quant
  • Biba
  • Miss Mouse

At the time, celebrities like Twiggy played major roles in promoting the new, more relaxed, and more colourful way of dressing that reverberated around the fashion world.

In April 1966, Time Magazine famously labeled London as the world centre of fashion design and style. Being fashionable became related to the rapidly changing social, economic and aesthetic context of the times, and the central role it played out, not just on Carnaby Street which holds a vast history of fashion design, but the sixties pop culture as well.


See results

© 2009 viryabo


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • luvie centaur profile image

      luvie centaur 6 years ago from malaysia


    • profile image

      fashion 6 years ago

      Cool hub!!!I enjoyed to read the 60`s dresses style.

    • viryabo profile image

      viryabo 7 years ago

      Thanks Nicole

    • NicoleSmith profile image

      NicoleSmith 7 years ago

      Great old fashion. I am glade to see this.

    • viryabo profile image

      viryabo 7 years ago

      Thank you Rebecca, i'm glad you enjoyed it.

      Thank you so much for your visit and for your nice comments.


    • Rebecca E. profile image

      Rebecca E. 7 years ago from Canada

      this is great and welld one, many thanks for writing it. I enjoyed every word of it.

    • viryabo profile image

      viryabo 7 years ago

      Thanks Chasemillis.

    • chasemillis profile image

      chasemillis 7 years ago

      Great job!! It's amazing how much we've changed in just 60 years!!

    • viryabo profile image

      viryabo 7 years ago

      Thanks mysisters.


    • mysisters profile image

      mysisters 7 years ago

      Great Hub. Vintage clothing is so unique and classic looking. A great place to find vintage pieces is on

    • viryabo profile image

      viryabo 7 years ago

      Hello Dolores, nice to see you.

      Thanks for your nice comments and for visiting.


    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 7 years ago from East Coast, United States

      Great hub on mid 20 th century fashion. I love the 50's look. I recently watched the movie "Rear Window" and was so impressed with the costumes worn by Grace Kelly. They were so beautiful.

    • viryabo profile image

      viryabo 7 years ago

      Thanks clothing store.


    • profile image

      clothing store  8 years ago

      That's a great information about fashion in the cntury of 1940s to 1060's.

      Thanks "viryabo" for sharing the history of fashion.

    • viryabo profile image

      viryabo 8 years ago

      Thanks n.


    • profile image

      8 years ago

      luv it

    • viryabo profile image

      viryabo 8 years ago

      Hi habee, thanks a million for visiting.


    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 8 years ago from Georgia

      Cool hub - love the pics, too!

    • RosWebbART profile image

      Ros Webb 8 years ago from Ireland

      Beautiful !!! Love it.. RosWebbART

    • viryabo profile image

      viryabo 8 years ago

      Margysybil, welcome and thank you for your visit and nice comments. Will be off to view the site now. Will def give you feedback soonest.


    • Margisybil profile image

      Margisybil 8 years ago


      some ousome pick!!

      i wonder i found some same things at

      tell me if you like them!!

    • profile image

      ugg boots uk 8 years ago

      Hi there,

      Ugh, I liked! So clear and positively.

      Have a nice day

    • viryabo profile image

      viryabo 8 years ago

      Hi topuggshoes, thank you for the visit. And the nice comments. Will visit your hub on ugg boots cos i love those boots!


    • profile image

      topuggshoes  8 years ago

      I like your website,it’s very good!

      ugg boots on sale

    • viryabo profile image

      viryabo 8 years ago

      Ebower, im glad you enjoyed this. Thanks for the visit and the nice comments. You sound like a chic fashionista.

    • Ebower profile image

      Erin Bower 8 years ago from Georgia

      I love old clothes or retro inspired clothing! I especially love some of the 60's and how the 40's and 80's bold shoulders are being used again today with a modern touch!

    • viryabo profile image

      viryabo 8 years ago

      Hi Vizey, thanks for your visit. History of fashion is quite interesting. Thanks for the nice comments.


    • Vizey profile image

      Vizey 8 years ago

      Great History of fashion. You must have done a big homework in collecting this info. It would up my general knowledge.

    • viryabo profile image

      viryabo 8 years ago

      That makes 2 of us, asides many others. Thanks enelle for the visit and nice comments.

    • Enelle Lamb profile image

      Enelle Lamb 8 years ago from Canada's 'California'

      I think vintage clothing and jewellery are remarkable - and very beautiful! lol


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: ""

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is used to quickly and efficiently deliver files such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisements has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)