1940s Cocktail, Pin up and Bombshell Dresses Guide

Vintage Inspired Party and Cocktail Dresses

1940s Cocktail, Pin up and Bombshell Dresses Guide

Pin Up Dress

The terms 1940s cocktail dresses, 1940s bombshell dresses, and 1940s pinup dresses have been used to describe any dress sexy dress that is “vintage inspired.” I love these clothes that have become so popular with designers in the USA, UK and AU that they have opened up online and offline stores to cater to the demand. Seeing these fashions everywhere is what inspired me to write the 1940’s Style Guide ebook. However as I was researching 1940’s clothing it became very evident that these “new” 1940’s pin up fashions were not 1940’s at all.

Christian Dior was the first to term “cocktail dress” in the late 1940’s. Her designs were part of the New Look with large circle skirts, fitted bodices, and the introduction of sleeveless tops that became the center of 1950’s fashion. They don’t resemble anything like the tight pencil skirts and dresses that are being labeled 1940’s today.

The major exception is not the clothing but the hairstyles. Betty Page, famous pinup model in the 1950’s, kept her hair in a 1940’s style with victory rolls or bouffant. This hair style combined with mostly late 1950’s clothing and is what is taking the retro world by storm.

Authentic 1940’s style clothing hasn’t entered the market place in the USA  as much as it has in the UK. What is available now is mix of some 1940’s elements on 1950’s style dresses. I thought it would be fun to take a few examples of these cocktail / pin up / bombshell dresses and show you where 1940’s style has influenced these vintage designs.

Patriotic Pin Up Dresses

1940s Cocktail, Pin up and Bombshell Dresses Guide

Sailor, Nautical or Patriotic 1940s Style Dress

1940s Cocktail, Pin up and Bombshell Dresses Guide

1940s Sailor Dresses

A patriotic dress is suggestive of the 1940’s war time effort, when women showed their support by wearing Navy motifs.  V for victory and anchors were pined and embroidered on dresses, pants and sweaters. This dress shows 100% war time support with the cute 4 button  bodice, white collar, and navy stripes. The skirt’s long length is correct for the 40’s as well. It is not a tight pin up dress, but pin up style none the less. This is a great choice for your next WWII or USO 1940’s party dress.

Sexy Pin Up Dresses

1940s Cocktail, Pin up and Bombshell Dresses GuideWhen I think of pin up dresses this is what I imagine. Sexy red, pencil tight dresses with charming cap sleeves, sweetheart neckline and knee length skirt. You can’t help but look like a bombshell girl in this dress. It is made by Stop Staring, a brand that is all about recreating 1940s and 1950s pin up inspired dresses. The long length, side ruche gatherings, and sweetheart neckline are what gives this dress plenty of 40’s style. Wear this with a sexy 1940’s pin up hairdo and you’ll look amazing wherever you go.

1940s Cocktail, Pin up and Bombshell Dresses Guide

1940s Cocktail “Wiggle” Dresses

Pin up dresses are sometimes called wiggle dresses. The form fitting dress causes the wearer to wiggle while walking hence the name. The best thing about wiggle dresses is that they look amazing on curvy women. Very sexy but in a sophisticated vintage glamour kind of way. If you don’t own a wiggle dress I highly recommend giving one a chance.

Adorable 1940’s Dresses

1940s Cocktail, Pin up and Bombshell Dresses Guide

1940’s Style About the Artists Dress at Modcloth

1940s Cocktail, Pin up and Bombshell Dresses Guide

By 1940s pin up artist Gil Elvrin

My favorite pin up pictures from the 1940’s are not the ultra tight, overly sexy, photographs and paintings. Instead they are the innocent ones where girls are wearing everyday 40’s dresses while they get caught in some precarious “revealing” position. The clothes look so cute and so authentic to the 1940’s. This pleated dress is very 1940’s with the puffed cap length sleeves, high waist, self belt tie, A- line skirt, and ruffle trim. It’s the type of dress you could wear to a pin up shoot and then off to your best friends party. This dress is a best seller at Modcloth with multiple color and size options. I have one and I love it!

Little Black Cocktail Dresses

1940s Cocktail, Pin up and Bombshell Dresses Guide

Little Black 1940s Dress

1940s Cocktail, Pin up and Bombshell Dresses Guide

Black 1940s Dresses

Here is another pin up dress that embraces the little black cocktail dress style.  Black dresses became an all time wardrobe staple in the 1940s. Women wore them in the semi formal afternoon and into the evening. One dress for many occasions was the way to be frugal and fashionable in the 1940s. The cocktail dress was born!

This dress is a basic 1940s style wiggle dress with sheer sleeves and neckline. It is a vintage look that can span the 1940s to the 1960s since it is such a classic and simple cut. Wear it to your next semi formal party and sip a martini in style.

Here are many more amazing 1940’s  pin up / bombshell / cocktail dresses for sale online: 

1940s Cocktail, Pin up and Bombshell Dresses Guide
 

The Neyla Dress in Rouge from ModCloth

$189.99

Buy at: ModCloth

1940s Cocktail, Pin up and Bombshell Dresses Guide
 

Epitome of Chic Dress from ModCloth

$159.99

Buy at: ModCloth

1940s Cocktail, Pin up and Bombshell Dresses Guide
 

Hell Bunny Black Anchor Swing Skirt

$39.99

Buy at: Hot Topic

1940s Cocktail, Pin up and Bombshell Dresses Guide
 

Hell Bunny Sandy Red Dress 2XL-4XL

$49.98

Buy at: Hot Topic

1940s Cocktail, Pin up and Bombshell Dresses Guide
 

Stop Staring! 1940s Style Navy & Ivory Railene Dress

$150.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Cocktail, Pin up and Bombshell Dresses Guide
 

Hell Bunny Black Tropical Dress

$39.98

Buy at: Hot Topic

1940s Cocktail, Pin up and Bombshell Dresses Guide
 

Hell Bunny Burgundy Cynthia Dress

$41.99

Buy at: Hot Topic

1940s Cocktail, Pin up and Bombshell Dresses Guide
 

Hell Bunny Emerald Cap Sleeve Dress 2XL-4XL

$68.95

Buy at: Hot Topic

1940s Cocktail, Pin up and Bombshell Dresses Guide
 

Hell Bunny Alexa Pencil Dress

$31.98

Buy at: Hot Topic

1940s Cocktail, Pin up and Bombshell Dresses Guide
 

Stop Staring! 1940s Peacock Blue Love Wiggle Dress

$166.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Cocktail, Pin up and Bombshell Dresses Guide
 

1940s Style Tropical Toucan Tallulah Sarong Dress

$64.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Cocktail, Pin up and Bombshell Dresses Guide
 

Rock Steady Red Jane Wiggle Dress

$63.60

Buy at: Hot Topic

1940s Cocktail, Pin up and Bombshell Dresses Guide
 

Tea Time After Time Dress in Teal

$132.99

Buy at: ModCloth

1940s Cocktail, Pin up and Bombshell Dresses Guide
 

Hell Bunny Emilie Dress

$78.80

Buy at: Hot Topic

1940s Cocktail, Pin up and Bombshell Dresses Guide
 

1940s Style Cobalt Blue Alveira Swing Dress

$68.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Cocktail, Pin up and Bombshell Dresses Guide
 

2014 Prom Dresses - Black Ruched Chiffon Short Sleeve Cocktail Dress

$25.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Cocktail, Pin up and Bombshell Dresses Guide
 

Green Floral Flocked Lace Overlay Cocktail Dress

$74.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Cocktail, Pin up and Bombshell Dresses Guide
 

1940s Style Black Satin Scoop Neck Rosa Wiggle Dress

$72.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Cocktail, Pin up and Bombshell Dresses Guide
 

Plus Size Black Lace Retro Glam Cocktail Dress

$133.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Cocktail, Pin up and Bombshell Dresses Guide
 

Navy & White Stripe Deep Water Wiggle Dress

$126.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Cocktail, Pin up and Bombshell Dresses Guide
 

Stop Staring! 1940s Style Green Fitted Karlie Wiggle Dress

$158.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Cocktail, Pin up and Bombshell Dresses Guide
 

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

$170.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Cocktail, Pin up and Bombshell Dresses Guide
 

1940s Style Navy Chevron Rock The Boat Wiggle Dress

$122.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Cocktail, Pin up and Bombshell Dresses Guide
 

Retro Chic Dotted Mesh Yoke Swing Dress

$74.50

Buy at: Torrid

1940s Cocktail, Pin up and Bombshell Dresses Guide
 

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

$166.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Cocktail, Pin up and Bombshell Dresses Guide
 

Stop Staring! 1940s Style Navy Fitted Timeless Wiggle Dress

$166.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Cocktail, Pin up and Bombshell Dresses Guide
 

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

$162.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Cocktail, Pin up and Bombshell Dresses Guide
 

Stop Staring! 1940s Style Grey Fitted January Wiggle Dress

$178.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Cocktail, Pin up and Bombshell Dresses Guide
 

Stop Staring! 1940s Blue Floral Print Nova Wiggle Dress

$166.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Cocktail, Pin up and Bombshell Dresses Guide
 

Hell Bunny Vampiress Dress

$63.60

Buy at: Hot Topic

1940s Cocktail, Pin up and Bombshell Dresses Guide
 

Stop Staring! 1940s Style Pink Fitted Timeless Wiggle Dress

$125.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Cocktail, Pin up and Bombshell Dresses Guide
 

Hell Bunny Mylene Black Dress 2XL-4XL

$48.99

Buy at: Hot Topic

1940s Cocktail, Pin up and Bombshell Dresses Guide
 

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

$162.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Cocktail, Pin up and Bombshell Dresses Guide
 

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

$170.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Cocktail, Pin up and Bombshell Dresses Guide
 

Retro Chic Polka Dot Swing Dress

$57.98

Buy at: Torrid

1940s Cocktail, Pin up and Bombshell Dresses Guide
 

Stop Staring! 1940s Style Red Fitted Uma Wiggle Dress

$162.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Cocktail, Pin up and Bombshell Dresses Guide
 

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

$162.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Cocktail, Pin up and Bombshell Dresses Guide
 

Plus Size Black Luna Lace Cocktail Dress

$122.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Cocktail, Pin up and Bombshell Dresses Guide
 

Stop Staring! 1940s Style Textured Ivory Pearl Dress

$182.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Cocktail, Pin up and Bombshell Dresses Guide
 

1940s Style Blue & White Polka Dot Cynthia Swing Dress

$68.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Cocktail, Pin up and Bombshell Dresses Guide
 

Stop Staring! 1940s Style Red Rouge Dress

$166.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Cocktail, Pin up and Bombshell Dresses Guide
 

1940s Style Raspberry & Cream Polka Dot Harriet Swing Dress

$72.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Cocktail, Pin up and Bombshell Dresses Guide
 

Stop Staring! 1940s Stye Red Havana Wiggle Dress

$50.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Cocktail, Pin up and Bombshell Dresses Guide
 

Stop Staring! 1940s Style Kelly Green Clover Dress

$162.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Cocktail, Pin up and Bombshell Dresses Guide
 

1940s Style Red Scallop Brenda Peplum Wiggle Dress

$85.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Cocktail, Pin up and Bombshell Dresses Guide
 

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

$100.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Cocktail, Pin up and Bombshell Dresses Guide
 

Once and For All Dress in Black

$164.99

Buy at: ModCloth

1940s Cocktail, Pin up and Bombshell Dresses Guide
 

Stop Staring! 1940s Style Champagne Metallic Alexis One Shoulder Wiggle Dress

$91.50

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Cocktail, Pin up and Bombshell Dresses Guide
 

Stop Staring! 1940s Style Black & White Gingham Wiggle with Cherries

$50.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Cocktail, Pin up and Bombshell Dresses Guide
 

Stop Staring! 1940s Style Tan Hazel Keyhole Wiggle Dress

$50.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Cocktail, Pin up and Bombshell Dresses Guide
 

Stop Staring! 1940s Style Pretty In Pink Wiggle Dress

$90.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Cocktail, Pin up and Bombshell Dresses Guide
 

1940s Style Orange Leopard Lovely Faux Wrap Dress

$50.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Cocktail, Pin up and Bombshell Dresses Guide
 

1940s Style Leopard Chiffon Wiggle Dress

$25.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Cocktail, Pin up and Bombshell Dresses Guide
 

1940s Style Metallic Silver Liliann Peplum Fitted Wiggle Dress

$158.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Cocktail, Pin up and Bombshell Dresses Guide
 

1940s Style Black Fitted Wiggle Dress

$108.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Cocktail, Pin up and Bombshell Dresses Guide
 

1940s Style Cranberry Red Fitted Wiggle Dress

$108.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Cocktail, Pin up and Bombshell Dresses Guide
 

1940s Style Blue & White Polka Dot Juliet Swing Dress

$54.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Cocktail, Pin up and Bombshell Dresses Guide
 

1940s Style Florita Print Violet Swing Dress

$62.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Cocktail, Pin up and Bombshell Dresses Guide
 

Lady Love Song Dress in Plaid

$89.99

Buy at: ModCloth

1940s Cocktail, Pin up and Bombshell Dresses Guide
 

Lady Love Song Dress in Ruby

$89.99

Buy at: ModCloth

1940s Cocktail, Pin up and Bombshell Dresses Guide
 

Lady Love Song Dress in Black

$89.99

Buy at: ModCloth

1940s Cocktail, Pin up and Bombshell Dresses Guide
 

I Am Glam Dress

$54.99

Buy at: ModCloth

1940s Cocktail, Pin up and Bombshell Dresses Guide
 

Stop Staring! 1940s Style Peacock Blue Million Dollar Baby Wiggle Dress

$156.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Cocktail, Pin up and Bombshell Dresses Guide
 

1940s Style Swallow Print Violet Swing Dress

$48.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Cocktail, Pin up and Bombshell Dresses Guide
 

Stop Staring! Plus Size 1940s Style Black Billion Dollar Baby Wiggle Dress

$162.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Cocktail, Pin up and Bombshell Dresses Guide
 

Unique Vintage Red & Black Five & Dine Swing Dress

$130.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1940s Cocktail, Pin up and Bombshell Dresses Guide
 

Maggy London Illusion Glitter Crepe Sheath Dress (Regular & Petite)

$94.80

Buy at: NORDSTROM.com

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.

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