The 1940s saw quite a change in style - clearly driven largely by WW2 and its affects on society and women's roles at the time. During the early forties, there was a rush to come up with clothing suitable for 'women at war' with an emphasis on frugality and practicality. Women's roles had changed and much more was required of them - and this also translated into clothing.
One of the exciting developments from this was that trousers (or pants to our overseas friends :-) were now much more socially acceptable for women. This must have been very freeing - but don't misunderstand - it was still challenging and I recall a friends' Grandmother's story where she was shouted at in the street for wearing a pair of slacks in the late forties!
However, we know from photos, written sources and sewing patterns that ladies were wearing them for more than just workwear. Indeed, we can find some from the 1930s (though very much preserved for upper class riviera set!).
I have researched 1940s trouser pants for women for a number of years - looking at shape, waistline, fastenings and finish. But also how they changed over the decade. All had the following in common: high waist & wide leg. Some differences include - waistband, pockets, front/side fastening and pleats to the front similar to mens trousers to create the masculine look.
Over the years, we have created 5 key styles of 1940s trousers for ladies and we know choosing which '1940s trouser' can be something of a conumdrum - so here is a little overview of each key style
1. 1940s Swing Trousers
We have been making these for over 10 years and they are still a best seller (so we know they get a lot of wins). They are high waisted with side button fastening and have a turn-up. We know they are very popular with swing dancers and everyday wear. Feedback tells us they are super comfy and slimming. You dont have to style vintage all the time to enjoy these and we produce them in a washable fabric for this reason.
2. 1940s Hepburn Pants
Named after Katherine Hepburn herself, this style has a fitted waistband, side pockets, side zip, front pleats and turn-up. Made in a heavy crepe fabric, these drape beautifully and have become another classic and bestseller. Perhaps a bit more formal than the swing trousers, they are really elegant and can be dressed up for evening-wear. These go beautifully with the classic 1940s sweetheart blouses and come in a variety of colours too!
3. Marlene Trousers
These are inspired by fashion trailblazer Marlene Dietrich and although she was mainly pictured in the 1930s wearing these very masculine pants - we have sourced many images of ladies wearing similar during the forties. One can assume that some of these women reworked actual mends trousers - which is highly likely due to restrictions on fabric and 'make do and mend' mentality. This style is pattern cutting ingenuity, with an integrated belt feed which fits a slim belt, tailored front pleats, pockets and a front zip fastening - no waistband but very high waist. Definately one for those who like to make a statement.
4. 1940s Rosie Trousers
This is our newest 1940s style pant - this was inspired by a mid 1940s (possibly post war) american image. Still wide leg but with a wide curved waist band and very tailored into the hip. Side pockets and back zip - a really elegant trouser and great for formal or casual look. Just loving that curved waistband!
5. WW2 Landgirl Breeches
This is perhaps the most daring our of our 1940s ladies trousers and is our own interpretation of the iconic style breeches worn by the land girls during the second world war. Whilst these are based on our best selling Plus Fours in terms of fit and fastenings - we have adapted them to reflect some of the key details seen in the original 1940s land girl breeches. The cord is even from the same mill (in Todmorden, England) that apparently produced the cord for the originals! Whilst not everyday for all - I believe for 'some' vintage fashionistas, they are so comfortable - they ARE! :-)
So - we hope this guide will help your forties trouser style choice - as always, if you need any further assistance to do with fit or anything else - always contact us or use the chat during UK office hours