So you have been invited to a 1940s themed wedding, party or nostalgia weekend. You don't want to be ungrateful for the invite, you want to look the part but money is a bit tight right now....we are here to help. It's a dilema faced by many as it's a common question when people reach out to us for advice.
The good news is during the 1980s there was a 1940s 50s revival. Some of the office wear of the eighties echoed the shapes and silhouettes of earlier decades so that is where we can turn to for look a like clothing.
1940s Looks For Women on Rations
New Look Dresses and Suits
Eighties does forties dresses and suits. The image below illustrates the similarities between a typical 1980s suit currently on our website and it's original counterpart.
Here are some sewing patterns from the eighties just to show how similar to true vintage forties some of them look.
1940s Style Dresses
Again there are plenty of eighties dresses or more recent reproductions that give a nod to the 40s. Add a pair of small shoulder pads and a narrow belt to a button through style and you are half way there.
1940s Style Accessories
A frame Kelly style bag or over sized clutch from any decade will look fine with wartime style clothing. Also any type of grocery basket or even a string shopping bag.
Tights & Stockings
We have all heard of the trick of drawing a pencil line to emmulate a pair of seam stockings - well it IS cheap. If you are worried about calf smudge invest in a pair of seam stockings to make your make do and mend 80s dress look a lot more realistic. We find our Pamela Mann ones very durable if you look after them they will last several outings. Remember to take your rings off when putting them on. If you choose stockings instead of tights you can keep the good one if you snag the other to make up another pair further down the line.
A basic pair of brogues or clumpy sandals will do the trick. You might be able to borrow a pair from an elderly relative....or if like me you are the elderly relative the good news is a lot of 40s day time shoes were smalled heeled & comfortable to reflect the extra demands placed on women during wartime.
Look to these delightful old ads for inspiration.
You can avoid the expense of a tilt hat or other true vintage hat by adding any one of the following to your hair: a scarf or bandana tied forward, a square scarf tied & tucked in, a clip on flower or a mesh snood depending on your hairstyle.
If you have set your heart on a hat you could buy a cheap felt hat & cut and shape it to make it look more 40s. You can create a half hat or julliette cap by cutting out the crown & adding feathers, flowers, faux fruit etc. We will post some tutorials soon.
The land girl look is easily achieved with a pair of modeern overalls or dungarees. Ideally not the denim variety but any shade of brown, cream or green are good. A cute blouse or shirt and a scarf in the hair all complete the look. Ideally a brogue style shoe or any other type of lace up. Heels or strappy sandals just won't look right.
1940s Looks For Men on Rations
Again the forties double breasted demob and spiv suits of the 40s made a re-appearance through the 80s and early 90s. A staple look for upwardly mobile fellas all over the land. Think Del and Rodney trotter during their yuppy phase, think Nials and Frazier Crane. These can be picked up now for around £50 if you don't mind a wool mix or synthetic cloth.
We buy mostly pure wool which a are a bit more expensive but as the event season gathers momentum we usually introduce a few cheaper ones.
A cheaper alternative still, especially for summer would be a shirt with the top collar removed to create a stand. Use sharp scissors or unpicker to slide along the join to remove the upper collar. You will end up with a Mandarin style stand similar to our own collarless shirts.
Pretty much any trousers with a pleated front and turn ups are a good choice. They might be chinos, linen, corduroy or tweed. At the moment our lowest price fish tail back trousers are £39.
If you find a cut price pair of vintage trousers but they are too small. Most men's trousers have a back seam which runs right through the waist band. This can be let out or a V piece of similar fabric inserted into the back. We have opened the back seam on these 1960s trousers ready to do just that. They have turn ups and buttons for braces.
1940s Look Men's Accessories
If a felt Fedora is pushing the boat out you can buy a woven paper or straw Panama style with a cheaper price tag. There isn't much difference in ours because our Panamas are top quality but you can definitely buy cheaper ones at coastal resorts. Due to the Peaky Blinders phase 8 panel newsboy caps can be picked up relatively low cost especially if you don't mind acrylic. Our cheapest is a wool mix at £12.
Some 1970s and 80s ties have patterns similar to those of true vintage forties swing styles. If you adapt your shirt to be collarless you won't need a tie.
Braces vary in price. If you don't have buttons on your trousers then clip ones usually work out cheaper as they don't have the real letaher loops.
It's often the accessories than give your 1940s look more authenticity so if your shirt collar isn't exactly right adding some St George armbands witll detract attention to a more exacting feature. Enjoy experimenting, you know where we are if you need a hand and as always we love to see you in your outfits.