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Costume Components for Women 1930-1947

Costume Components for Women 1930-1947

Dept. of Fashion Design
KCC Women’s College (Affiliated by Khulna University),
Khulna, Bangladesh
Email: konicaku@gmail.com


 Costume Components for Women 1930-1947


  1. In a change from the straight lines of the 1920s under garments of the 1920s and 1940s emphasized the curves of the figure.
  2. Brassieres of the thirties were cut to lift and emphasize the breasts.Corsets extended to slightly above the waist. This is the most necessary costume components for women.
  3. Rigidly boned corsets were still worn by large women,but smaller women wore corsets in which the shaping was achieved by elasticized fabric panels.
  4. Terminology changed ;panties became panty briefs and then brief as they grew shorter in order to fit under active sportswear.
  5. Older women continued to wear fuller,losers ‘’drawers’’ or ‘’bloomers’’. Slips fitter the torso and were fuller in the cut of the skirt.
  6. Lower-priced underwear was made of cotton,rayon or acetate ;more expensive garments of silk.
    Undergarments for women’s (1930-47)
    Undergarments for women’s (1930-47)

B)Daytime garments :
One piece dresses, skirts and blouses, and tailored suits remained the staples of women’s wardrobes for daytime wear.

1. Silhouette:

  • The beginnings of a change in silhouette came in the late 1920s when hemline began to lengthen and belts moved gradually closer to the natural waistline.
  • The silhouette of the 1930s emphasized the natural from of the woman’s body. Bosom, waistline and hips were clearly defined by the shape of clothing.

2. Hemline:

  • Early in the decade hemlines fell-they were about 12 inches from ground in the first several years of the decade,and by 1932 went as low as ten inches.
  • Indeed,some illustration of high fashion garments show a hemline that  comes  all most to the ankle.
  • By mid-decade,skirt lengths started upward again,13 or 14 inches off the ground and by the end of the period skirt lengths had reached 16 or 17 inches from the floor.

3. Effects of the war:

  • The wartime period,with its restrictions, essentially ‘’froze’’styles of the  late thirties and 1940-41.
  • By the war period, skirts had become shorter,ending just below the knee, and had grown fuller, shoulders had broadened,and shoulder pads were inserted into all garments to provide greater width,bias cut was rarely used.
    Daytime garments (1930-470)
    Daytime garments (1930-470)

C)Daytime dresses:


  • Necklines were generally high. In the first half of decade, cowl necklines, cape collars, and soft finishes such as bows and jabots predominated.
  • Later v-necklines and collared dresses were more important, yoke construction were common.

Styles included those that were long and full ,gathered to a wristband;short,many whit a cape construction;full,raglan sleeves;Magyar or batwing sleeves;and at the end of the decade, short, puffed sleeve.


  • Most were cut in several gores;some had bias-cut pieces set into a yoke that covered the hips tocreate a skirt that was narrow but flaring.
  • Others were made with box pleats or shirred sections,and a few had layered tunic contruction.All these constructions continued to be used until the end of the period.Toward the end of the thiries skirts  became wider.
    Daytime dresses
    Daytime dresses


  • Suite remained a basic item of women’s wardrobes.made in firmer fabrics,their line was not so supple as that of most dressers.some styles were clearly modeled after men’s suits.
  • Except for some square,box jackets of  the early thirties, suits curved in to fit closely at the waist.
  • Styles were both single and double breasted,some were belted.jacket lengths were shorter in the early 1930,longer toward  the end.Lapels were wide in the early narrower and longer later.
  • Wartime suit styles included bolero suits that short curving jackets, that ended on military jackets, that ended above the waist or Eisenhower jackets, based on military jackets, that were slightly bloused above the waist and gathered to a fit lied commander Dwight Eisenhower who wore this type of jacket
    Suit for women(1930-47)
    Suit for women(1930-47)

E) Separates:
Both casual and dressy versions of blouses,sweaters,and skirts were available.The more casual versions were classified by retailers into the newly emerging category of sportswear.

Construction was similar to that of dress bodices.


  • Pullover wool sweaters were made in decorative patterns or plain colors with short or long sleeves.patterns or plain colors with short or long sleeves.sometimes belts were worn over sweaters.matching short-sleeved sweaters and long-sleeved cardigans were popular in the early forties.
  • In the mid 1940s adolescents wore large,loose pullovers called sloppy joes.

NOTE: Sweaters were especially popular during the war.Movie stars who were photographed in tightly fitting sweaters for ‘’pin-up’’ pictures were called ‘’sweater girls’’.

3. Separate skirts:

  • In the 1930s skirts were generally cut without much fullness.construction details included gores,pleats that released fullness low and below the hip,top-stitching,and panel insets.
  • In the 1940s and during the war,skirts were fuller and shorter.About 1945,dirndl skirts(full,gathered skirts)became fashionable.

F)Evening dresses:
Evening and daytime dress lengths were markedly different-

1. Evening gowns always reached to the floor Bias-cut styles were utilized until the late 1930s.

2. Such dresses followed the body to the hips,where they flared out.other common characteristics of evening dresses included.

  • Bare-backed gowns cut low to the waist at the back
  • Halter-type sleeveless bodices
  • Full,cape-like or puffed sleeved styles.

Toward the end of the 1930s; Less ornamentation,less detail in construction and more severe lines were more common.evening styles included blouses and skirts and evening suits with long skirt and matching jackets of plain,uncluttered lines. Under these soft, frilly and softer, backless or sleeveless blouses or bodices were worn.

Evening dresses(1930-47)
Evening dresses(1930-47)

Strapless grwns appeared in Hollywood films of the late 1930s.the tops of hese dresses fitted tightly and were held in place by boning sewn inside,along the seams.

G)Outdoor garments:

  • In the 1930s Many coats were cut with decorative detailing around the neckline and shoulder lines during the early 1930s.large collars  were often made of fur.
  • Some coats had leg-o-mutton sleeves closings tended to be the left, often with only one button. Overall the line was slender unit the  latter part of the decade when more boxy,fuller coats,some in three-quarter length some ending at the hip,and some in full length were popular.
  • In the 1940s;Many coats had features such as large collars and revers,heavily padded shoulders,and raglan  and and dolman sleeve constructions
  • Some had plain ,straight boxy shapes.
  • Fur coats  were popular and the increased affluence of Americans who worked in highly-paid,wartime industry brought these coats within the means of many more women.
  • Military influence was evident in war year.The military trench coat was often seen.
    Outdoor garments
    Outdoor garments

Women could choose between nightgowns and pajamas.


I)Hair and headdress:

  • In the early years of the 1930,hair was relatively short,usually waved softly and with short,turaedup curls around the nape of the neck.
  • As the decade progressed fashionable hairstyles grew longer
  • Toward the end of the decade the page boy bob (straight hair turned under at the ends)and hair dressed on top of the head in curls.(the up-sweep)were more fashionable.

During the war some women dressed the hair in a high pompadour at the front and sides of the face while arranging the hair in a long.U-shaped roll at the back;other wore a short ,curly hairstyle called a feather cut.

Hair and headdress(1930-47)
Hair and headdress(1930-47)

1. In the early 1930 ,these were worn small in scale,of many different shapes and usually tipped at an angle,either to one side,front,or back.Additional styles included berets and sailor hats and wider brimmed styles in the later 1930s.when up-swept hairstyles were worn,higher hats and small hats with face veils were fashionable.

“NOTE:Milliners found inspiration in many sources,including the middle ages,and some hats were shown with wimple-like scarves draped under the chin and attached to the hat at or above the ear.”

2. Hats for evening became fashionable,especially turbans and decorative veils,artificial flowers and ribbons.snoods returned to fashion for the first time since the civil war era,possibly as a result of the wind and little women.

3. In the 1940s hats tended to be small;styles included pillboxes  and small bonnets.many women went hat less but to be considered well-dressed a lady had to wear a hat.

4. Women working in wartime factories covered their hair with turbans or wore snoods to protect hair from getting caught in the machinery.

Footwear from the period 1920 to 1947

1. Stockings:

  • These were made in flesh tones of silk or rayon and seamed up the back cotton and wool stockings were for sportswear.
  • Ankle socks were worn by young girls and for sports.
  • In the 1940s teen-aged girls wore these socks so constantly that adolescent girls wore these socks so constantly that adolescent girls came  to be known as bobby-soxers
  • Shortages of fabric  for stockings during the war led women to paint their legs with leg makeup to simulate the color of stocking.some even went so far as to paint a dark line down the back of the leg in imitation of the seams.

2. Shoes:
During the war,leather shoes were rationed.Each adult was entitled to two new pairs per year.shoes made of cloth were exempt from restriction,and so cloth shoes with synthetic soles were readily available.

Footwear for womens(1930-47)
Footwear for women’s (1930-47)



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