Fashion in the Post-War World

With the war’s end, there were promises made that things would immediately return to normal…
War-time debt and inflation, shortages in basic necessities and housing, and technical problems in switching back to peacetime production are a few of the challenges facing fashion’s rebirth.

[Patience was required in waiting for the post-war world to start looking like something other than the wartime world]

“Venus” dress, Christian Dior (1949)
Ball gown made of grey silk tulle, bodice consists of scallop shaped petals; embellished with beading, sequins, crystals, and pearls.

Jacques Fath (1946)
Narrow silhouette evening gown, with a wrapped body enclosure emerging from the neckline, wrapping under the arm and around the back and waist, and emerge from the bottom of the bodice as an embellishment for the skirt.

For the first few years following the war, designers  created dresses with both full and narrow silhouettes.

The dress by Dior, pictured on the far left, illustrates a silhouette he created which was termed “The New Look.” While it was far from new; basic elements such as a small waist, soft shoulders, long skirt, and a prominent bosom had been introduced just before the war’s start in 1939.

While Dior is most famous for this “new look,” he also created narrows skirts and simpler suits to please all buyers.

During the post war period, as with any other time period, had clothing specifically created and marketed to “target customers.”  Sheldon’s Somatotypes, namely ectomorphic, mesomorphic, or endomorphic boy types, can be effectively used to connect which dresses go best with which body types. Those dresses with a narrow silhouette, were best suited for those with an ectomorphic, or borderline mesomorphic body type. Those with mesomorhic body types would be drawn to either a silhouettes discussed, but would be likely to opt for the still popular style of square shoulders when wearing a narrow silhouette. A dress with square shoulders would balance wide hips in straight skirts.  Those with ectomorphic body types would be most likely to wear some of the looser fitting day dresses, and a more full silhouetted evening dress.


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