Channelling the ’40s style this spring Flattering and timeless.

FashionTrendsApril 05, 2021

There is something fascinating about the ’40s fashion when, despite the hardships of wartime, women’s style was undeniably iconic.

Think how glamorous the Hollywood goddesses of the ‘40s were. Who wouldn’t want to be as stylish as Rita Hayworth, Barbara Stanwyck, Katharine Hepburn and the Austrian Hedy Lamarr? So we’re happy to see that the feminine hour-glass silhouettes and the elegant androgynous style of the ’40s have inspired many designers for their spring collections.

Keep scrolling to discover ten ’40s style trends you can emulate this spring using pieces you probably already have in your wardrobe.

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Double-breasted jackets

Two fashionistas during Fashion Week, wearing double-breasted jacket and coat, a typical style of the '40s.
Tailored suits were quite popular in the ’40s

The ’40s fashion was all about Christian Dior’s New Look; waist-cinching jackets and full skirts. In 2021, wear structured double-breasted jackets or coats, if belted, the better, and pair them with an A-line skirt for a typical ’40s style silhouette.

Midi length

Fashion show goes wearing midi skirts.
During the 40s, utility clothes typically featured squared shoulders, narrow hips, and skirts that ended just below the knee

Whether pencil skirts, A-line or pleated, the length of dresses and skirts in the ’40s fashion was anywhere from below the knee to the mid-calf. This length is extremely flattering and looks fab paired with this season’s elevated slippers and flip-flops.

Puffy shoulders

Stylish women during fashion week wearing jackets with puffy shoulders.
Puff and Squared shoulders were a key design in the 40s

Puffy shoulders and sleeves helped create the ultra-feminine hourglass silhouette. You can also add shoulder pads to any shirt and T-shirt to recreate the boxy shape typical of the ’40s fashion.

Marlene pants

Street style photos of two show-goers during Fashion Week wearing beige wide-legged pants.
Pants or slacks first gained popularity among women in the 40s

The German actress Marlene Dietrich and Katharine Hepburn helped make masculine trousers fashionable for women. The classic pleated trousers were wide-legged and high-waisted, which we, and Harry Styles, think is flattering and very chic. Pair the ’40s style pants with a waistcoat to add nowness as we saw at Celine and Gucci.


Stylish woman at Fashion Week wearing a light blue cardigan and matching skirt.
Add a contemporary touch, wearing your cardigans with nothing underneath

Cardigans were a must for the put-together fashion of the ’40s. You can wear the tieless knitwear tucked into a belted waist and with a scarf around your neck à la Ava Gardner. Additionally, see here where to buy second-hand granny-like cardigans and other S/S21 trends.


Fashionista wearing a pink lace top layered under a matching dress and silver oversized blazer.
Hollywood Diva effect

The divas of the Hollywood golden era, like Rita Hayworth, had an incredibly sexy style that was sometimes scandalous for the ’40s. For example, satin dresses with slits, cropped tops, and the first bikinis. Having this sexiness in mind, wear satin tops with lace and play with transparencies as seen at Fashion Week S/S 21. You can also layer a cardigan over your lingerie, leaving the top buttons undone to show the lacy top like the stylish French girls do.

Peter Pan collars 

Stylish woman wearing a '40s style floral dress with wide Peter Pan collar.
Miu Miu dress with big lace Peter Pan collar

The Peter Pan trend has invaded our Instagram feeds, with influencers from all over the world wearing them, but did you know that the wide collars were on-point in the 40s fashion too?

Polka dots

Two stylish women wearing Polka dot dresses during Fashion Week.
Polka dots add a happy and vintage touch to your wardrobe

As for women in the ’40s, polka dot dresses and skirts are in fashion and contemporary again. In fact, Polka dots are timeless, Princess Diana, for example, used to wear the dotted print very often in the ’80s. In other words, you can invest in polka dot items without worrying about their wearability.

Bobby socks

Street style photo during Fashion Week showing woman wearing mules with Bobby socks with polka dots matching her skirt.
Teenagers started to wear bobby-socks in the ’40s

Flat Oxford shoes and loafers were worn with white Bobbysocks, comfortable enough to swing dance all night! Add the ’40s feel to your outfit by wearing cute socks with sandals, slippers or loafers we saw at Fashion Week. This styling trick will allow you to wear summer shoes even on chillier spring days.


Stylish woman wearing a turban and statement earrings.
Every form of knot is possible, Just be creative

Every woman, from Hollywood divas to country girls, loved to wear the glamorous fashion accessory in the ’40s; a turban. From simple headscarves to outrageous headwraps embellished with voluminous flowers, fruits and bows.

Otherwise, choose a nice scarf and learn how to tie your turban.

Street style photos taken during Fashion Week via Shutterstock