1940 Women's Fashion Inventions

1940's Women's Fashion was a time of major restrictions on design, fabric and trim material. The war forced the clothing design to be simple, but it also forced to produce creativity with what they could use and invent new materials. 1940s gave rise to new women's fashion inventions, many of which still remain today.

  1. The belt. Before the 1940s a female form of metal-braided corsets was made. During the 1940s, the belt was invented as a form of stomach lingerie. It just shaped the middle down to the hips and created the smooth hourglass silhouette associated with vintage fashion. The belt was uncomfortable and eventually replaced by nylons or no underwear at all. Today, the belt returns with body treats, control socks, control tops and other suits and smooth clothing. Those names may have changed, but these clothes are just updated girdles in disguise.
  2. Wedge shoes. Leather and wood were needed for the war, so the design of the shoes had to be creative. The solution was cork. A cork ball was used for shoe heels and then packaged in a fine fabric, mesh or even reptile skin. It was economical and allowed a higher heel than what was thought to be a safe helper. Today, wedgies come in and out of fashion, especially in the summer when kilsandals hit the beaches.
  3. Rayon . If you did not know, Rayon is a synthetic fabric. It was invented and became very popular in the 1940s. Until then, wool, silk and cotton were what clothes were made of. Silk and cotton were needed for the war, so Rayon was used instead. It can be light as silk or heavy like wool. Today, rayon is still in good fabrics, especially in the summer.
  4. Nylons . Before the 40's women's socks, silk was made. They were very sensitive and often needed cleaning and hand washing. Dupont then invented nylon and thus "Nylons" became a trademark for socks. Today, nylon is still used to make all kinds of companies and fabrics.
  5. Zipper. Thanks to new inventions from the 1940s, women can dress clothes instead of using buttons, snaps or laces.
  6. Plastic. Although different forms of plastic had existed since the 1920s, it was not until the 1940s that they really took the central step in the fashion world. Jewelry was made of bakelite plastic in large colorful patterns. Handbags, make-up bags and household items were made by Lucite. You may not recognize these plastic names but I'm sure you're aware that plastic is everywhere in fashion – from cute barrettes to zippers to handbags.
  7. Axle cushions. You might think that the 1980s was the first decade to use shoulder bags. They actually go back later than the 1940s, but as a standard accessory accessory for women, the 1940s were the first. They used shoulder pads in dresses, jackets and blouses to choke the shoulder for a boxy military feeling. The 1980s were influenced strongly by the 1940s fashion, and thus the axle pillows came back in style.


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