Last month another Style Me Vintage book landed on my doormat, this was one I’d been really looking forward to. Although my style leans towards the 1950s I really adore the fashions of the 1940s. It’s such an interesting era for fashion. because of the war, women’s roles were changing and shortages and rationing meant women had to be industrious and creative with their fashion choices. It is also an era of glamorous film stars, beautiful make-up and the era that introduced some of my very favourite hairstyles.
Liz Tregenza’s new book Style Me Vintage: 1940s, covers the key fashion and beauty trends of this fascinating decade and provides all the information you need to recreate styles from the era. This book is perfect for die-hard vintage lovers and people who are just starting out wearing vintage and need a few tips. The book covers everything from what under-garments were worn in the era to what to wear on your wedding day.
The book is divided into handy sections so you can hunt out exactly what you’re looking for. I really enjoyed the section on make-up. The looks are very authentic to the era and are less fancy dress than some of the others I’ve seen. I love the simple eyes teamed with bright red lips. There are two looks, an early and a later 40s look which are both absolutely beautiful and very achievable. The chapter also features lots of historical background information and a really interesting section on the alternatives women used when make-up wasn’t available due to shortages.
The book then goes on to cover hair. From feminine victory rolls to braids and hollywood waves the styles are all perfect for a 1940s look. I loved Liz’s instructions for tying a vintage headscarf correctly and which hats to wear. When my hair gets a little longer I’m looking forward to trying all of them. The instructions are really simple and clear and I think they are easy enough for beginners to achieve after a little practice.
The book walks us through clothing of the 40s starting with wartime fashion. This chapter was so interesting and includes beautiful photos from the time, alongside beautiful pictures of the clothes being worn today. The sections on rationing and utility clothing are definitely worth a read. From a collectors point of view, the pictures of labels and fabrics of the time are useful resources when buying 1940s clothes of your own. The chapter also covers the various uniforms worn by women taking on war work and Liz looks absolutely amazing modelling these fascinating outfits. I was really interested by the section on American style which has a slightly more glamorous edge than those worn by their British counterparts. A great touch was the little sections of Parisian and German fashions during the war. When we look at the era we often concentrate on fashions closer to home, so I really enjoyed these bits.
My favourite part of the book from a fashion perspective was the Post War Fashion chapter. Dior’s New Look of 1947 changed everything and defined an era of tiny wastes and full skirts. The late 40s sees the change from using as little fabric as possible to using swathes of beautiful fabrics and I find the transitions in fashion of the late 40s fascinating.
The book continues with a look at the details that finish the outfits of the 40s from jewellery to shoes and bags. Even if you prefer reproduction vintage clothing, having authentic accessories can really complete a look and I think people will find this section particularly helpful. It also looks at swimwear and lingerie.
One of my favourite possessions are the pictures I have from my Grandparents wedding in the late 1940s. I look at them all the time. I find weddings from the past so fascinating, especially in a time when we now spend so much money on weddings and dresses. The chapter of the book on weddings is brilliant and as well as featuring some very beautiful dresses also includes amazing pictures of weddings of the time.
The book concludes with Liz’s top tips for buying clothing from the 1940s – essential reading for anyone new to buying vintage. There are also useful links to websites selling both original and reproduction vintage which are all well worth visiting.
I loved this book and the highlights for me were the black and white photos of Liz’s own family in the 1940s including her beautiful Nana. It made the book feel really personal and put the clothes into context. I love the idea of looking back at out relatives and taking inspiration from their lives and their style. After reading the book I had a look through my suitcase of family photos which I hadn’t done for a while.
I’d definitely recommend the book to anyone who loves the fashions of the past, the book contains enough information to get you started creating a 1940s look and it’s definitely made me look up a few brands that I wasn’t familiar with. Rob also bought me a rather special handbag after I spotted a similar one in the book, I’ll show you soon!
Liz is a vintage fashion specialist and historian as well as having a ridiculously enviable wardrobe! This is her second book after co-writing Style Me Vintage Accessories last year, here’s hoping there are many more books to come!
Liz invited me along to the launch party for this fabulous book so I thought I’d share a few pictures I snapped at the party.
The event was held is the absolutely gorgeous Paper Dress Vintage, a bar and vintage shop in London. It was the perfect setting for a book on vintage fashion and we were surrounded by the most incredible clothes while sipping on wine and having a look through the wonderful book.
I wore a dress I made myself from an old vintage sheet in true Make-do-and-mend style! Fay looking through the fantastic book.
Style Me Vintage 1940s is Published by Pavillion Books.
Buy a copy of Style Me Vintage: 1940s on Amazon.