1940s Wedding FashionsHannah Greenwood
Rationing and World War II had a huge effect on fashion and wedding attire during the 1940s. The ‘Make Do & Mend’ campaign by the government led to a flourish of creativity by the fashion conscious women affected by the rationing. When it came to weddings women often made their own dresses using fabric not subject to rationing or easily available fabric commonly used like parachute silk, re-worked old dresses, pooled coupons with other women and even wore dresses previously worn by others, desperate times meant desperate needs.
Simple dress designs and skirt and jacket outfits also became popular as weddings became low-key affairs, often hastily arranged when soldiers were on leave, servicewoman during this time often married in their uniform. This is not to say that there weren’t examples of beautiful dresses produced during this decade, on the contrary, they were often stunning, with time-consuming free hand needlework embroidery applied.
The dresses created by women affected by rationing showed some exemplary sewing and design skills whilst later in the decade the marriage of Queen Elizabeth II to Prince Philip in 1947 and the ‘new look’ celebrating the hourglass figure created by Christian Dior in the same year brought back the fashion for lace and long-sleeved dresses with full skirts and clinched in waists as the decade headed towards the 1950s. We stock a variety of 40s wedding gown patterns for the enthusiastic 1940s collectors.