We highlight the key moments for 1940s fashion

The key looks from the most decadent decade

Despite the hardships of WWII, the 1940s were still a brilliant decade for style – and 1930s fashion was a hard act to follow. It was a decade of trailblazing styles and new silhouettes, and many of the styles we’re still supporting today. From Joan Crawford to Bette Davis, Rita Hayworth and Doris day, we chart the era’s best and most iconic looks that paved the way for 1950s fashion.

Christian Dior’s 1940s fashion

1940s fashion

When it comes to 1940s fashion, Dior’s groundbreaking new silhouette redefined women’s post-war style and revived France’s fashion industry after a difficult few years. The collection – featuring gorgeous full skirts and waist-cinching jackets – was Dior’s first and became forever known as the ‘New Look’, after Harper’s editor Carmel Snow said in 1947: ‘It’s such a new look!’ Imagine if every designer could knock together something like this for their debut?

Ava Gardner’s 1940s fashion

1940s fashion

Ava Gardner was one of the decade’s most successful (and beautiful) actresses. Here she is in 1944, showcasing the beauty of a belted waist and a chic neckerchief; both of which were key 1940s fashion trends.

Bette Davis 1940s fashion

1940s fashion

An original 1940s fashion pin-up, Bette Davis works a blue gown in this seductive shot, taken in 1943, perfectly paired with a full red lip.

Doris Day’s 1940s fashion

1940s fashion

Doris Day shows us how to work the nautical trend during the filming of Romance On The High Seas in 1948. Remind us to drape our blazer over our shoulders on our next boat trip.

Rita Hayworth’s 1940s fashion

1940s fashion

The actress embraces androgynous style in a pair of wide-legged trousers and monochrome flats in 1940. Our new workwear wardrobe = sorted.

Katharine Hepburn’s 1940s fashion

1940s fashion

Katharine rocks a gingham dress and cinched-in waist on the set of The Philadelphia Story in 1940. Note the Peter Pan collar, a trend that was also a big 1960s fashion talking point and still resonates today.

Joan Crawford’s 1940s fashion

1940s fashion

Joan does it again here, showing us how to work floral prints with some seriously statement jewels (no era did power florals quite like 1970s fashion, though).

Grace Kelly’s 1940s fashion

1940s fashion

Princess Grace of Monaco always looked flawlessly chic – even as a teen model back in 1947.

Ginger Rogers’ 1940s fashion

1940s fashion

That wide-brimmed hat and elegant skirt suit made Ginger Rogers look effortlessly pulled-together in 1942 – hat brims were now much bigger than the cloche styles of 1920s fashion. And check out those leather driving gloves – if only we looked this good on our way to the airport.

Barbara Stanwyck’s 1940s fashion

1940s fashion

Über-embellishment and major cocktail jewels made Barbara Stanwyck look like a total screen goddess in 1941, along with her perfectly curled ‘do.

Rita Hayworth’s 1940s fashion

1940s fashion

This famous black satin gown from Rita Hayworth’s striptease scene in Gilda set tongues a-wagging in 1946.

Ingrid Bergman’s 1940s fashion

1940s fashion

We’d wear those block-heeled sandals today. Check out the flawless Ingrid Bergman working a perfect ‘jet set’ look in Casablanca.

Rita Hayworth’s 1940s fashion

1940s fashion

Here’s our Ibiza style inspiration sorted. Rita Hayworth works a printed bikini, huge sun hat and peep-toe heels. If only we looked this put-together by the pool.

Mid length skirts

1940s fashion

These midi-length skirts couldn’t be more on trend, and these women in Paris demonstrate the timeless look perfectly. Have French women EVER been out of style?

Ann Sheridan in metallics

1940s fashion

Ann works the metallics trend in this decadent high-neck gown. We could totally see this on the red carpet at next year’s Oscars.

Hedi Lamarr’s 1940s fashion

1940s fashion

Actress Hedi rocks a huge floral corsage for Come Live With Me. So this is where Carrie Bradshaw got her inspiration from…

Lauren Bacall’s 1940s fashion

1940s fashion

Lauren looks flawless in this thigh-split satin gown in 1944. We could totally see Angelina Jolie wearing this vintage wonder.

Barbara Stanwyck’s 1940s fashion

1940s fashion

Barbara rocks a tailored pastel blue suit in 1940 with a few pops of leopard print to accessorise. Lovely.

Olivia de Havilland’s 1940s fashion

1940s fashion

The crop top was a big look in the early forties, too. We adore Olivia’s impossibly glamorous jewels.

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