Vintage Inspired Party and Cocktail Dresses
The terms 1940s cocktail dresses, 1940s bombshell dresses, and 1940s pinup dresses have been used to describe any dress “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 vintage 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 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.
I must give credit to a few designers in the UK who have added 1940’s clothing to their catalog such as www.tarastarlet.com and Vivianofholloway. While 1940’s clothing hasn’t entered the market place in the US much of what you do see is a 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
This 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 white detail and navy stripes. The skirt’s long length is correct for the 40′s as well as the thin belt around the high waist. This is a great choice for your next WWII or USO 1940′s party dress.
Sexy Pin Up Dresses
When I think of pin up dresses this is what I imagine. Sexy red, pencil tight dresses with charming cap sleeves, sweetheart neckline and contrasting thin belt. You can’t help but look like a bombshell girl in this dress. It comes in black and white too which looks equally amazing. The long length, thin belt, 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.
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
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 40′s with the 3/4 length sleeves, high waist, long A- line skirt, and pleated ruffle. It’s the type of dress you could wear to a pin up shoot and then off to your best friends party.
French Pin Up Dresses
Nothing says romance like the French and nothing says french fashion like striped shirts. While most french fashion designers had to flee France during the war the french influence never left the fashionable world. Except for the 3/4 length sleeves and snug fit, this dress is not 1940′s style. It’s more late 1950′s era. However its an excellent example of how nearly any dress can look pin up with the right hair, accessories, and the Eiffel Tower as your backdrop : )
Little Black Pin Up Dresses
Here is another pin up dress that appears french inspired. In fact the black beret was a common hat in the 1940′s. Women loved them and wore them daily. The dress is a basic 1950′s or 1960′s style sheath dress with vintage cap sleeves, scoop neck, and side tie bow. It screams 1960′s Mad Men but with the beret it’s also very 1940′s cocktail style dress. Wear it to your next semi formal party and sip a martini in style.
Here are many more amazing 1940′s and beyond pin up / bombshell / cocktail dresses from around the web. Shop till your hearts content!