Socialite 1940s Replica Beau Belle Dress

How To Spot Authentic 1940s Reproduction Clothing

There are 100s of brands of reproduction 1940s and 50s clothing in the marketplace.  Some are loosely inspired by vintage clothing eg a 1940s shirt dress with a modern novelty print such as cats or cupcakes.  Others are striving to re-create authentic looks from the decade they represent.   How accurate Is 1940s reproduction vintage clothing moreover how do you spot which retro fashion is the truest representation of the originals?  

Fabrics that are definitely not 1940s

Womens Reproduction Forties Clothing

Original vintage dresses and suits from the forties and fifties tend to have more intricate detail in terms of seams and darting for an improved fit.  As prices are driven down by demand for cheaper throwaway fashion, clothing manufacturers inevitably skimp in these areas to save costs.   a lot of the great tailoring techniques of the past have been lost along the way.   A reliable reproduction manufacturer will attempt to recreate some of the old features without making the garments unaffordable.  Compromises may have to be made such as when placing the zip of a 1940s replica dress correctly into the left side seam, a lightweight modern zipper can be used as opposed to a thick cotton one with heavy metal teeth.  Machine embroidery rather than hand embroidery can still create an authentic look if copied closely as you can see from the Beau Belle dresses at the top of the blog.  On the left is the original black and purple true vintage dress, on the right is one of our replica Socialite Beau Belle dresses.

Our own label Socialite range takes reproduction clothing to another level.  We choose original vintage items from our personal, archive and replicate them as closely as we can.  This guarantees the authenticity you would normally associate with the wardrobe department of a big-budget film with all the comfort and benefit of modern washable fabrics.  So far in our Socialite womenswear range, we have produced four styles of dresses in various fabrics and colourways, more recently a suit and coat have been added.


Socialite 1940s Style Promenade Coat

The image on the left is the original forties time preserved coat and Amelia models our own interpretation named the Promenade coat which is near enough identical.  We have brought it into this Millenium with the update of a nice bright satin lining.  We want to celebrate all that is good about forties fashion without adopting the drabbest elements from years of make do and mend.

Our Socialite Victory suit was taken from the original 40s, early 50s one I wore to Goodwood Revival the year before 'you know what' putting a stop to it.  It has all the clever darting and seaming plus the adorable eye-catching pockets.  I was nominated for the event's best-dressed competition so it was definitely a good one for me to draft a pattern from.

This video shows our latest Socialite dress and it's original double elevens counterpart.

Mens Reproduction Forties Clothing

The same rules apply when searching for reproduction menswear.  The key garments that tend to be reproduced are shirts, jackets and trousers plus accessories such as Fedoras and trouser braces.

There are some informative sites and blogs out there for example the gentleman's gazette, which points out that even the costume designers for Downton Abbey didn't get everything spot on with their recreations of the show's vintage costumes. You can do a bit of research before you put together your period-accurate vintage looks.  Did you know for example the pockets wrap around the sides on most original 1940s suits and the shoulder seams swing back from the natural top shoulder line so they are not visible from the front on a hanger?

Your compromise here might be a none working buttoned cuff.  Our Socialite suits have all these accurate features and more.


mens 1940s suits

Trousers should have a low rise and fit high on the natural waistline.  There should be buttons to attach braces plus a button fly.  Turnup hems were a popular feature and pleated fronts with medium to wide legs that taper into a turnback cuff at the ankles.  Side pockets were generally vertical rather than the slanted ones that are more common today.

Where shirts are concerned look for longer than average sleeve length, side seam godets and detachable collars.  Also natural high-quality cotton fabrics just like the originals. In the 1940s it was common for shirts to be pullover styles with a stitched reinforced 'bib'.  We have incorporated all these features into our own label Revival and Socialite shirts.

Detachable collars for Revival vintage shirts

Detail of a good reproduction vintage shirt

We have grown our range of men's vintage style shirts to include collarless versions which can be paired with detachable collars plus a  modest selection of casual pure linen short-sleeved shirts with notched cuffs.  

To design, cut patterns and recreate clothing from yesteryear is a slow and expensive process but we are committed to bringing you more great designs as and when we can.  We have a few more ideas in the pipeline for Autumn Winter that we can't wait to share.  Signing up for our newsletter ensures you keep up to date with all our new stock as it comes in.

Have fun putting your own unique looks together.  

Thanks, Helene