Women's 1940s Vintage Dresses

Rock a retro look in women's 1940s vintage dresses. All about the silhouette, 1940s dresses had high nipped-in waistlines and flowing skirts to create an hourglass shape even for those who didn't have one. The puffed or padded shoulders and the skirts helped to give a fuller looking shape to accentuate the dainty belted waist.

The wartime and post-war period saw rations on fabrics meaning that the calf-length dresses of the 1930s now came just below the knee.

Dress Styles

One of the most popular styles in the 1940s was the tea dress, a style that has had many modern make overs and is still loved today.

This style was appropriate for the daytime, whereas sexy pin-up styles and longer dresses were reserved for evening dress.


Shoulder pads had just been invented, meaning that most dresses of the 1940s had this boxy shape and shoulder angle. Others were puffed up with folds and gathers in the material.

This use of shoulder pads and puffed shoulders created a militant and masculine look in the dresses.


The demure styles showed no cleavage but there was still a lot of choice in necklines with button-down V necks being very popular, a style that is much-loved by vintage dressers today.

You can also often find square necklines, keyhole, sweetheart or wrap necklines.


In the early 1940s the rations on fabric meant that dresses were often made in simple colours and fabrics; however, once the ration had lifted, colourful fabrics were embraced. Women wore dresses with prints and contrasting trims.

Plus Size

One area of fashion that had been very overlooked before the 1940s was plus size fashion. This came to an end in the 1940s with dresses and other clothing designed especially to flatter the fuller figure. There were also more tips readily available to tell women what styles and shapes would suit them and wouldn't.