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The 1940s Shirt Waister Dress

There is nothing more iconic in a vintage 1940s wardrobe than the shirt waister dress. Since the early forties was all about practical dressing yet still feminine and demure, this dress was the perfect option for women at the time.

From our perspective, we are always trying to ensure we give our customers all the options for each era. The challenge for us is to create vintage dresses that are authentic, wearable, timeless and yet affordable. In the 1940s, ladies most often made their own garments and they were extremely skilled in doing this because 'off the peg' was still an early concept or reserved for the wealthy. We also know that fabric was very expensive - so seamstresses made extra efforts to get the most from the fabric and add clever detailing to make the garment special.

It's the opposite for us now (and especially since we make on site here in sunny Yorkshire) - so we have to be especially clever in our design and cutting. Our challenge is always 'how can we create the most authentic garment which represents the era and silhouette yet make it work commercially'.

Our new forties shirt waister dress captures the 1940s silhouette perfectly. A practical button down front which can be left demurely open to above the bust or buttoned right to the top for the typical neckline choice of the era.

Practical dressing in the 1940s was very much about creating a style that is elegant but still easy to do you jobs in and move around without restriction. This was often achieved with a blouson style on the upper body to give easy movement. We have done this on the shirt-waister through the back yoke and gathers which then fall in tucks at the waist. We do keep the waist nipped in via a sash belt - so we keep that gorgeous 1940s feminine silhouette.

On this reworked style - we added a little pad into the shoulder for extra lift and the sleeves have gathers into the shoulder and at the bottom hem. These little details are what tops this garment off perfectly and creates that iconic 1940s wartime silhouette.

Skirt has a swing to it but just about fits into the WW2 fabric usage guidelines (but don't hold me to that). 

But one of our favourite details are the buttons - these are reproductions of an original late 1930s bakerlite button. They have an art deco flavour to them and because we eliminated the zip - we have them go below the waist line so you can get this beauty on and off in a jiffy.

The dresses are made in a viscose/rayon crepe - which is as authentic as we can currently source. It's a very tricky fabric to work with we need to use it to get the authentic finish. It drapes beautifully, it breathable and easily goes into gathers and tucks.

We have two colourways of the these beauties available for autumn - cranberry red (a stunning and vibrant colour but very wearable) and autumn posey print - a reproduction 1930s print. Click here to view 

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