1940’s Women’s Day Dresses

In these a woman could leave her home to run errands, visit friends, do charity work, go to school or travel. Much of the “vintage retro” look has come from 1940’s day dresses. So what does a 1940’s day dress look like?

From the top down a dress would have:

1940s Womens Day Dresses

1940’s Women’s Dresses

Short or Long Sleeves- Dresses in the early 40’s had sleeves that ended just above the elbow or mid forearm. Except for the Kitty Foyle style dress, sleeve did not have cuffs. Many dresses in the mid 40’s started showing very small sleeves called cap sleeves. These were cut with the dress bodice and required no additional sewing other then a simple hem.

High neck line- A 1940’s day dress had a neck line that is modest by today’s standard yet revealing for the times. An opening came in square, heart, or v shapes. Dresses of the 40’s often had collars like smaller versions of those on men’s dress shirts. This is a trademark design of 1940’s dresses. A high neck line brought attention to a women’s face which was simply accented with makeup and very 1940s Womens Day Dressesneatly styled hair.

Square shoulders- Shoulders are squared off in both dresses and blouses. You could draw a straight flat line from the collar to the end of the shoulder and then straight down the arm. This “squared” corner shape was later brought back into the 80’s. Both decades used shoulder pads to make shoulders square.

Fitted bodice- The bodice of the dress were very snug. From the square shoulders to the tiny waist the shape looked like an upside down triangle. Some fancier days dresses had pleats and gathers that formed a “wrap” dress bodice. More casual dresses had an apron front- an apron sewn over a dress-or at least the illusion of one. The most common day dresses were shirtwaist style. They were not zippered in the back instead they were buttoned straight down the front of the bodice and often down the skirt too.

Knee length skirts- Dress skirts went down to the low knee cap. Hemlines had to be very straight and neat otherwise a lady would look shamelessly sloppy! Skirt shapes were A-lined with no pleating until after the war. They fit slightly loose, not “pencil” till the late 1950’s.

1940s Womens Day Dresses

Late 1940’s Fabrics

Fabric and Trimming- Wool was the most common fabric choice. Easy to care for, comfortable in all weathers, and lasted a long time. However Rayon was the hot new fabric and more and more day dresses were being made with this “new” synthetic. Colors were not that interesting. The war kept choices limited to subtle blue gray’s, medium browns, and faded greens. The post war years had more bright colors and patterns to choose from.

1940s Womens Day DressesEarly years prevented any fabric adornments like pockets and bows. The later 40’s had many of these extra fabric trims.

That completes the typical 1940’s day dress. There are 100’s of vintage, new and reproduction clothing stores that sell 1940’s day dresses. To make your search easier visit my 1940’s dress shopping page to find the perfect dress for you. Plus size gals, don’t worry, there is a shopping page just for you.

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

1940s Style Red Scallop Brenda Peplum Wiggle Dress

$85.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

1940s Style Blue & White Polka Dot Ingrid Swing Dress

$58.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

eShakti Women's Puff sleeve sash waist crepe dress

$79.95

Buy at: eShakti

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

Star Studded Performance Dress from ModCloth

$99.99

Buy at: ModCloth

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

Stop Staring! 1940s Style Navy Fitted Timeless Wiggle Dress

$166.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

1940s Style Red & White Polka Dot Lovely Faux Wrap Dress

$100.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

Journey to the Mast Dress in Navy from ModCloth

$46.99

Buy at: ModCloth

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

Stop Staring! 1940s Style Pink Fitted Timeless Wiggle Dress

$125.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

About the Artist Dress in Navy from ModCloth

$54.99

Buy at: ModCloth

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

1940s Style Cobalt Blue Alveira Swing Dress

$68.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

Delight Me Dress from ModCloth

$89.99

Buy at: ModCloth

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

Stop Staring! 1940s Style Grey Fitted January Wiggle Dress

$178.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

Live A Little Women's Belted Shirt Dress

$26.78

Buy at: Overstock.com

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

1940s Style Swallow Print Violet Swing Dress

$48.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

Author Outings Dress in Green from ModCloth

$55.99

Buy at: ModCloth

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

Jukebox DJ Jumper from ModCloth

$89.99

Buy at: ModCloth

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

Stop Staring! 1940s Style Navy Billion Dollar Baby Wiggle Dress

$162.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

eShakti Women's Puffed sleeve peplum crepe dress

$79.95

Buy at: eShakti

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

About the Artist Dress from ModCloth

$54.99

Buy at: ModCloth

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

Stop Staring! 1940s Style Light Brown Plaid Fitted Renee Wiggle Dress

$170.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

Geometry Guru Dress from ModCloth

$54.99

Buy at: ModCloth

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

Pretty on the Park Bench Dress in Dots from ModCloth

$89.99

Buy at: ModCloth

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

Up, Opera, and Away Dress in Cream from ModCloth

$169.99

Buy at: ModCloth

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

Fond Voyage Dress from ModCloth

$94.99

Buy at: ModCloth

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

Stop Staring! 1940s Style Taupe Rose Fitted Idda Wiggle Dress

$170.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

Savvy Sailor Dress from ModCloth

$69.99

Buy at: ModCloth

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

About the Artist Dress in Navy Dots from ModCloth

$37.99

Buy at: ModCloth

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

Stop Staring! 1940s Style Green Fitted Karlie Wiggle Dress

$158.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

About the Musician Dress in Dots from ModCloth

$49.99

Buy at: ModCloth

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

Thyme a Believer Dress

$89.99

Buy at: ModCloth

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

Stop Staring! 1940s Stye Red Havana Wiggle Dress

$50.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

1940s Style Aqua Mae West Swing Dress

$56.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

Hit the Sail Dress from ModCloth

$76.99

Buy at: ModCloth

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

Hell Bunny Burgundy Mylene Dress 2XL-4XL

$37.49

Buy at: Hot Topic

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

Stop Staring! 1940s Style Navy & Ivory Railene Dress

$150.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

Job Swell Done Dress

$59.99

Buy at: ModCloth

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

Stop Staring! 1940s Style Red Rouge Dress

$166.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

Poet and You Know It Dress

$139.99

Buy at: ModCloth

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

1940s Style Blue & White Polka Dot Jennifer Dress

$58.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

Scenic Swoon Dress

$153.99

Buy at: ModCloth

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

Networking Vacation Dress

$109.99

Buy at: ModCloth

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

All Eyes on Sea Dress

$39.99

Buy at: ModCloth

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

1940s Style Green & White Polka Dot Ingrid Swing Dress

$58.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

Off and Runway Dress

$74.99

Buy at: ModCloth

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

1940s Style Blue & White Polka Dot Cynthia Swing Dress

$68.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

Stop Staring! 1940s Peacock Blue Love Wiggle Dress

$166.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

1940s Style Florita Print Violet Swing Dress

$62.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

1940s Style Tropical Toucan Tallulah Sarong Dress

$64.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

Stop Staring! 1940s Style Kelly Green Clover Dress

$162.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

Stop Staring! 1940s Style Red & Navy Americana Fitted Wiggle Dress

$166.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

Navy & White Stripe Deep Water Wiggle Dress

$126.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

Plus Size 1940s Style Pink & White Polka Dot Ingrid Swing Dress

$58.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

Floral Field Day Dress in Chambray

$62.99

Buy at: ModCloth

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

Cheery Cordial Dress in Long Sleeves - Black

$84.99

Buy at: ModCloth

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

One Floral, All For One Dress in Dusk

$139.99

Buy at: ModCloth

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

Spontaneous SoirC)e Dress

$139.99

Buy at: ModCloth

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

Stop Staring! 1940s Style Red Fitted Uma Wiggle Dress

$162.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

eShakti Women's Tipped trim Peter Pan collar dress

$69.95

Buy at: eShakti

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

Stop Staring! 1940s Style Olive Green Billion Dollar Baby Wiggle Dress

$162.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

1940s Style Blue & White Polka Dot Juliet Swing Dress

$54.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

1940s Style Raspberry June Swing Dress

$70.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

Plus Size 1940s Style Raspberry & Cream Polka Dot Harriet Swing Dress

$80.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

1940s Style Raspberry & Cream Polka Dot Harriet Swing Dress

$72.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

Stop Staring! 1940s Style Seafoam Green Billion Dollar Baby Wiggle Dress

$162.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

Dancing Date Dress in Rouge

$94.99

Buy at: ModCloth

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

1940s Style Red Short Sleeve Marie Swing Dress

$97.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

Stop Staring! 1940s Style Textured Ivory Pearl Dress

$182.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

eShakti Women's Banded waist cotton poplin dress

$59.95

Buy at: eShakti

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

1940s Style Navy Chevron Rock The Boat Wiggle Dress

$122.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

1940s Style Purple Floral Waterfall Faux Wrap Dress

$78.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

Beacon of Charm Dress in Coast

$86.99

Buy at: ModCloth

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

Stop Staring! 1940s Blue Floral Print Nova Wiggle Dress

$166.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

Centerpiece Arranging Dress

$139.99

Buy at: ModCloth

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

Stop Staring! 1940s Style Tan Hazel Keyhole Wiggle Dress

$50.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

Plus Size Black Noir Whimsy Wrap Dress

$98.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

Dine Among The Pines Dress

$74.99

Buy at: ModCloth

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

Believe It or Dot Dress in Teal

$69.99

Buy at: ModCloth

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

Literary Connoisseur Dress

$109.99

Buy at: ModCloth

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

Wax and Wane Dress

$139.99

Buy at: ModCloth

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

1940s Style Cranberry Red Fitted Wiggle Dress

$108.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

Stake Out Acclaim Dress

$84.99

Buy at: ModCloth

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

Underpinnings of Style Dress in Red

$109.99

Buy at: ModCloth

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

1940s Style Navy & Ivory Two Tone Jenna Flare Dress

$78.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

1940s Style Metallic Silver Liliann Peplum Fitted Wiggle Dress

$158.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

Sweet Tea Party Dress

$29.99

Buy at: ModCloth

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

Tea Time After Time Dress in Teal

$132.99

Buy at: ModCloth

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

Trollied Dolly Fanciful Forties Dress

£55.00

Buy at: House of Fraser

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

Trollied Dolly Fanciful Forties Dress

£52.00

Buy at: House of Fraser

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

Jolie Moi Retro pattern printed tea dress

£28.00

Buy at: House of Fraser

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

Plus Size Black Luna Lace Cocktail Dress

$122.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

eShakti Women's Feminine pleated knit dress

$69.95

Buy at: eShakti

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

eShakti Women's Dotted retro poplin shirtdress

$89.95

Buy at: eShakti

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

Let's Go to the Shop Dress in Black

$79.99

Buy at: ModCloth

1940s Womens Day Dresses
 

Let's Go to the Shop Dress in Cherry

$79.99

Buy at: ModCloth

This entry was posted in 1940's Fashion History on by .

About Debbie Sessions

Debbie Sessions is passionate about wearing history through fashion. She and her husband, Oscar, have turned their hobby into a career by teaching others how to re-create vintage style with affordable new vintage inspired clothing and accessories. We connect shoppers to the best vintage inspired clothing, shoes and accessories and teach fashion history as it was worn by everyday people. Need more help? Contact us anytime.

One thought on “1940’s Women’s Day Dresses

  1. Emily

    I wanted to write a fiction book and base it in the 1940’s and this site helped sooooooo much with the fashion. Thank you and please continue work.
    Sincerly,
    Emily

    Bookmarked this website … u should 2. ☺

    Reply

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