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Forties Fashion

From Siren Suits to the New Look

Jonathan Walford (Author)

Logo markA Thames & Hudson book

Overview | Formats

"A fascinating narrative… Great stories, remarkable acts of patriotism…mark the indomitable spirit of humanity."—Booklist

Here is a definitive look at fashion in the 1940s—from French style under the Occupation and the “make do and mend” approach to wartime clothing shortages through the development of faux fabrics, the rise of American fashion houses, and the New Look of the post- war period.

The illustrations reveal the wide range of fashions and styles from the 1940s in North America, Europe, Australasia, and Japan. The lively text by fashion specialist Jonathan Walford details how fashion was considered not a frivolity but an aesthetic expression of circumstances in the 1940s. While Fascist states tried to create “national” styles before the war began, by 1940 the pursuit of beauty was promoted on both sides of the conflict as a patriotic duty. From prewar to postwar, we see attitudes emerge from period advertisements, images of real clothes, and firsthand accounts in contemporary publications. The result is a celebration of everything from practical and smart-looking attire for air raids (hooded capes with large pockets and siren suits) to street fashion and the creation of Christian Dior’s “New Look” collection in 1947.

Book Details

  • Paperback
  • April 2011
  • ISBN 978-0-500-28897-9
  • 9.2 × 9.8 in / 208 pages
  • Sales Territory: USA and Dependencies, Philippines and Canada.

Other Formats

  1. Book CoverForties Fashion: From Siren Suits to the New Look


Endorsements & Reviews

“Flipping through this book will provide endless hours of entertainment for swing dancers, retro-designers, and lovers of fashion history.” — StyleList.com

“Shows how fashion gave form to the anxieties and aspirations of the times. . . . Engrossing.” — Fiberarts

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