Research Paper Mikala Staerzl Before WWII, women stayed home being a housewife, taking care of their children and their husband as well as maintaining their house. WWII changed all of this when millions of men were sent off to fight in the war, disregarding the thousands of jobs they once had. Since many families did not have a steady income anymore, women took on the many jobs that were once held by men. These labor-intensive jobs needed to have protection even though women wanted to keep their ladylike fashion.
During these years, women’s fashion turned into more of a masculine feel. Woman of the 1940s in New York changed dramatically during the decade from masculine clothing to short skirts and shirts that express the bust area, women’s fashion always had different and unique styles before and after the war. Since many men were enlisted into the army during WWII, woman would take roles that men would normally do when not in war. Because of that, women’s fashion changed completely. Before the war, woman would try to achieve and obtain the “silhouette” body type. When the war happened, woman had to do more jobs around the house as well as things outside of the house. Doing so, the they wanted to find clothing that kept them comfy and safe, but yet ladylike.
According to the Landscape Change Program their typical style while working was squared shoulders and tailored suits, but also wearing skirts. These articles of clothing showed both the masculine, yet their womanly side. Along with tailored suits, woman would wear shoulder pads to give a more broad shoulder and squared chest appearance and wear pants during their work to keep their legs protected. One suit that a woman would wear was called the zoot suit. “The Zoot Suit with its bright colors, baggy legs and long jackets was a complete deviation from the norm” (1940s Fashion History for Women and Men). Women would also wear this suit to show a rebellious feel as well as keeping their body protected. Another safety item of clothing a woman had was a kangaroo cloak.
A kangaroo cloak was a jacket type of clothing that had huge pockets, so when the alarms went off the woman can store items in their pockets while running for shelter. Woman would also wear tons of skirts. During war time, women would wear short and tight skirts. The skirt would be at knee length as well as be a solid color, such as black navy or other dark colors. Even though there were not many men in New York during the 1940s, the woman still kept a feminine taste as well as masculine in the realm of fashion. When the war was finally over, and the men came back, the world of fashion for woman changed a ton. From masculine but yet slightly feminine, to now almost all feminine and little masculine, the fashion for women has changed.
Since they do not have to work in hazardous places anymore, woman jumped out of pants and changed into a more girly look by wearing skirts everywhere. The skirt would be at calf length but would also have padding on the sides to give a “hourglass figure,” as well as have bunches of fabric under to give a poofy look. According to the Landscape Change Program, woman wanted the rounded shoulders and shapely bust lines. They wanted to achieve more of an hourglass feel to their bodies to show off to men.
Many popular styles such as plaid and brighter colors came back into fashion after the war has ended. From when the war ended to the end of the 1940s decade, women’s fashion changed from a manly apparel to prevent harm to a womanly and outgoing feel. Throughout the war and daily life, women’s fashion always had a girly vibe. Even when woman had to gear up and wear manly type clothes, they always kept their feminine feel, even if it is changing their shoulder appearance. From working all day and night to keep a steady income for their family at home, tailored suits and kangaroo cloaks kept women feeling protected as well as flirty during their work hours. Woman went from being squared and flat chested to an hourglass figure and busty within ten years. From working to relaxing, women always shown whos boss as well as showing off their figure and having a girly vibe.