WWII Fashion Secrets: How Women Of The 1940s Nailed Resourceful Style

By Toby Tunwase October 31, 2023

When it comes to being resourceful, few eras can rival the ingenuity of the 1940s. At a time when luxury items were scarce due to wartime rationing, the women of this era managed to look fabulous through remarkable fashion secrets. Let’s take a trip back in time and uncover the genius fashion secrets that women used during the 1940s, which still inspire us today.

Image courtesy of Everett Collection/Shutterstock

1. Boot Polish Mascara:
In an era where fancy mascara brands didn’t abound, women found an unexpected substitute in boot polish. They used it to darken their lashes, creating makeshift mascara. While it was effective, this is one 1940s beauty hack we might not be quick to replicate today.

2. Beetroot Beauty:
In a time when lipsticks were hard to come by, women turned to nature for a solution. Beetroot juice became their go-to for adding a splash of lip color. It provided a lovely, dark-colored stain that was both effective and harmless. “Beauty is a duty,” and the resourceful women of the 1940s proved it could be achieved even without traditional cosmetics.

3. Blanket Couture:
With clothing coupons in short supply, women had to get creative with their wardrobe choices. Making your own clothes was a cost-effective option, and women often used old blankets as a prime source of fabric. Blankets were warm, not rationed, and ideal for crafting winter dresses. Surplus “escape maps” from World War II were also repurposed into unique frocks!

4. Tea for Perfect Pins:
Tea wasn’t just for sipping in the 1940s; it played a crucial role in the morning beauty routine. To mimic the appearance of stockings, women would soak their hosiery in a pot of tea and draw a pencil line at the back to make it look like the real thing. When tea wasn’t available, gravy worked as an alternative – a testament to their creativity.

5. The Three Rs: Repair, Recycle, Reuse:
The 1940s were an era of thrift, where the mantra was to repair, recycle, and reuse. This philosophy extended beyond personal style and permeated society as a whole. Shops and businesses promoted thriftiness, and the women of the era embraced it wholeheartedly. This commitment to resourcefulness and sustainability continues to inspire us today.

Image courtesy of Everett Collection/Shutterstock

The fashion secrets of 1940s women serve as a testament to their resourcefulness and creativity in times of scarcity. Their ability to make do and mend, turning ordinary items into extraordinary fashion statements, continues to inspire us to be resourceful and sustainable in our own lives. So, next time you’re faced with a fashion dilemma, take a cue from the stylish ladies of the 1940s and get creative!