1940s fashion joan crawford

1940s fashion: The decade captured in 40 beautiful pictures

The key looks from the most decadent decade...

Despite the hardships of WWII, the 1940s were still a brilliant decade for style. We highlight the key moments for 1940s fashion in 40 stunning images.

1. Joan Crawford, 1940s

Check out Joan Crawford’s shoulder pads and decadent jewels above – now we know where Joan Collins got her Dynasty inspo from. A perfectly-tailored peplum finishes off her sharp look. Power dressing at its very best, she was an unforgettable 1940s fashion icon.

1940s fashion joan crawford

Joan Crawford

2. Christian Dior’s new look, 1947

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…
1940s fashion

Christian Dior’s new look

3. Ava Gardner, 1944

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; a key 1940s fashion trend.

1940s fashion

Ava Gardner

4. Bette Davis, 1943

An original 1940s fashion pin-up, Bette Davis works a blue gown in this seductive shot, taken in 1943.

1940s fashion

Bette Davis

5. Doris Day, 1948

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…
1940s fashion

Doris Day

6. Rita Hayworth, 1940

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

1940s fashion

Rita Hayworth

7. Katharine Hepburn, 1940

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

1940s fashion

Katharine Hepburn

8. Joan Crawford, 1946

Joan does it again. Here she shows us how to work floral prints with some seriously statement jewels.

1940s fashion

Joan Crawford

9. Grace Kelly, 1947

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

1940s fashion

Grace Kelly

10. Ginger Rogers, 1942

That wide-brimmed hat and elegant skirt suit made Ginger Rogers look effortlessly pulled-together in 1942. And check out those leather driving gloves. If only we looked this good on our way to the airport.

1940s fashion

Ginger Rogers

11. Barbara Stanwyck, 1941

Über-embellishment and major cocktail jewels made Barbara Stanwyck look like a total screen goddess in 1941.

1940s fashion

Barbara Stanwyck

12. Rita Hayworth, 1946

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

1940s fashion

Rita Hayworth

13. Ingrid Bergman, 1942

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

1940s fashion

Ingrid Bergman

14. Bette Davis, 1940s

Bette Davis knew how to clash her brights right, topping off her look off with a slick of red lipstick.

1940s fashion

Bette Davis

15. Rita Hayworth, 1940s

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.
1940s fashion

Rita Hayworth

16. Ladies in Paris, 1947

These midi-length skirts couldn’t be more on trend for AW16. Have French women EVER been out of style?

1940s fashion

Ladies in Paris

17. Swimsuit competition, Paris, 1949

Check out those ruffles! These Parisian girls certainly knew how to push boundaries when they showcased the latest swimsuit trends way back in 1949. We could totally see Rihanna in the suit on the far right.

1940s fashion

A swimwear competition in Paris

18. Christian Dior model, 1947

Has a fur coat ever looked so glamorous? This lady seems to have predicted exactly how we want our winter layers to look, 60 years into the future. How clever.

1940s fashion

A Christian Dior model

19. Ava Gardner, 1940s

More monochrome. A first hint of statement prints. You can’t go wrong with a 1940s tea dress.

1940s fashion

Ava Gardner

20. Betty Hutton, 1945

Betty rocks a halterneck bikini, wrap skirt and wedges with a turban-style headband. No wonder she’s smiling – she looks hot.
1940s fashion

Betty Hutton

21. Ann Sheridan, 1942

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.

1940s fashion

Ann Sheridan

22. Reard fashion show, 1946

Bikini briefs in the forties were HUGE (quite literally) and always teamed with an, ahem, on-point structured top. These gorgeous models perfect their catwalk struts at the Reard show in 1946.

1940s fashion

Reard

23. Betty Grable, 1940s

We love the bright acid yellow of actress Betty Grable’s bathing suit. And that’s before we even mention that hair.

1940s fashion

Betty Grable

24. Lucille Ball, 1940s

This actress knew how to offset her bright red barnet and sparkling blue eyes with a pair of statement earrings. And let’s talk about that pre-Photoshop complexion – flawless!

1940s fashion

Lucille Ball

25. Ladies sunbathing in London, 1942

These girls owned a relaxed look while chilling in a park in 1942. Check out those John Lennon-style round sunglasses. This scene would not look amiss in London Fields in 2016.

1940s fashion

Ladies sunbathing in London

26. Brenda Marshall, 1940s

Pleats, zips, ruching, AND statement headwear? So many trends and an outstanding example of 1940s drapery.

1940s fashion

Brenda Marshall

27. Models on Bond Street, London, 1942

The wartime look in Britain became much more austere as the years went by. This was the first collection of Utility Dresses For Women, designed by Norman Hartnell in 1942, and showcased on a very quiet Bond Street.

1940s fashion

Models on Bond Street

28. Land Girl in Southern England, 1944

British women headed to the fields during WWII in dungarees and buttoned-up shirts. The Land Girls still kept things stylish though, cinching-in their waists with classic belts.

1940s fashion

Land girl in Southern England

29. Hedi Lamarr, 1941

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

1940s fashion

Hedi Lamarr

30. Lana Turner, 1946

Another stunning shot, another turban. Lana’s pastel wardrobe for The Postman Always Rings Twice is simply stunning.

1940s fashion

Lana Turner

31. Lana Turner, 1943

…and she knew all about the importance of diamonds.

1940s fashion

Lana Turner

32. Lauren Bacall, 1944

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

1940s fashion

Lauren Bacall

33. Barbara Stanwyck, 1940

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

1940s fashion

Barbara Stanwyck

34. Betty Grable, 1943

World War II pin-up Betty’s white one piece with understated gold jewellery is totally chic.

1940s fashion

Betty Grable

35. Claudette Colbert, 1941

Dear modern-day designers, can someone please re-make this? French actress Claudette rocks a gorgeous striped bikini in 1941. Want.

1940s fashion

Claudette Colbert

36. Doris Day, 1945

We just love Doris’ preppy chic style and her gold wedges.

1940s fashion

Doris Day

37. Ginger Rogers, 1942

Ginger knew all about the power of embellishment. This was her official portrait taken by Paramount Studios.

1940s fashion

Ginger Rogers

38. Ida Lupino, 1940s

Actress-turned-director Ida rocks a printed crop top and matching skirt. And how fabulous is that cigarette holder? So sophisticated.

1940s fashion

Ida Lupino

39. Olivia de Havilland, 1941

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

1940s fashion

Olivia de Havilland

40. Claudette Colbert, 1942

Claudette looks fabulously decadent in a floor-length pink gown, while filming The Palm Beach Story in 1942. Haven’t we seen Cheryl Cole rocking an elegant cowl hood just like this in a certain music video?

1940s fashion

Claudette Colbert

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