With the start of the war and strict rationing on fabric, dresses in the 1940s became shorter. Whereas the 1930s featured dresses that went down to mid-calf, the 1940s brought them up to knee length. The war also affected the top of the dress.
Women’s clothes took on a masculine militant look with the invention of shoulder pads. Every dress, blouse or jacket was fitted with shoulder pads that extended just past the edge of the shoulder. This made for a boxy or square neckline and shoulder angle. Sleeves were often puffed up a bit with gathers at the top and extended down to just above the elbow.
The neckline of the 1940s dress came in a variety of cutouts. They could be square, slit, sweetheart, keyhole, shirred, cross front (wrap), or even V with shirtwaist (button down) tops. There was no cleavage! All dress top designs were modest, revealing very little skin compared to today’s fashion.
Take a look at these vintage found photos from Vintage Cars & People to see what women wore in the early 1940s.