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
The strangest year on record continues...but we have enjoyed the time to work on new styles and ideas for both the upcoming AW season and for next year. Although we cannot ignore the doom and gloom of the news - nor avoid worrying for our future of our businesses - but what I can do is spend some of the time immersing myself in the joys of creating lovely new things and trialling new fabrics. We have certainly been using this time well :-)
The Utility Coat
First on the agenda was the new 1940s Utility coat. Always something i'd been thinking about following the great success of our 50s couture and glam coats. I think we will release a new style of coat each autumn - they are beautiful to design and work on - but take time and the fabric is expensive.
We want to produce coats our customers will treasure and wear for many years - so quality is really important.
So I wanted to create a practical early 1940s coat and set about researching original garments, photos and looking at original patterns. This was possible the first time i was focussed on practicality as well as silhouette! A bit of creative licence was needed to make this work in our modern market - less exaggerated shoulders so coveted in the 40s and a slimmer silhouette.
I wanted something super warm, elegant but in the main - super wearable! Below is a summary of my favourite design elements.
Im overjoyed by the result and this beauty is now available in 3 fabrics. We hope you enjoy wearing our new favourite coat and look forward to seeing some amazing pics of you wearing it!