I was excited when Juliana offered to write a guest post, because she wears 1940s style clothes every day! The idea seemed really radical to me at first, but it made more sense as I thought about how classy and put-together women of that era managed to look, even as they raised a whole bunch of babies (the Baby Boomers, to be precise).
Juliana has a background in Soviet history and is now a stay-at-home mother to four young children. She navigates simple urban living in a small Victorian-era row home with a growing family and blogs about it all at Urban Simplicity.
I’ve had five babies in six years, and my body isn’t what it once was. After my daughter was born in 2011, I was in a bad place. I started reading the Ain’t No Mom Jeans blog in a desperate attempt to find ways to feel better about the way I looked. I wanted to feel nice in my clothing, and I just didn’t. Everything felt wrong, either too big or too small, and frumpy. I got some ideas from the blog, but I always had the vague sense that I was trying on something that didn’t suit me.
Somewhere along the way, I ran across the vintage blogging world, and I was hooked. I decided then and there I was done with modern fashion and going to dress in a 1940s style. At the time, I had a four year old, a 19 month old and a very sick four month old baby. Pursuing a 1940s look gave me an outlet from all the stress of my daughter’s chronic illness and hospital stays, and gave me a research outlet; I had given up academia for diaper duty when my eldest was born.
Almost two years into this gig, I love it. I’ve gone through another pregnancy and birth and this post-partum period has been the best so far for feeling better about the way I look. I’ve joined some awesome Facebook groups for fellow vintage enthusiasts, and rediscovered knitting and sewing after a long hiatus.
1940s style is extremely practical and completely compatible with having small children. After all, fashion during the war years was geared for women who were doing heavy work in munitions factories, manual labor on farms, and everything in between. Their clothes had to stand up to the wear and tear!
I wrote recently about my vintage fashion journey (with photos of some summer outfits), but it is cooler now, and I tend toward separates for fall and winter. I don’t wear pants, as they tend not suit my figure, although I’m thinking of saving up for a pair of Freddie’s jeans for the spring (or possibly making a pair myself). I have a handful of just-below-the-knee skirts (for me this is about 25-26” long), a handful of light-weight knit pullovers, a handful of button-down blouses with butterfly collars, and a handful of heavy weight sweaters. I wear Foot Traffic cotton tights in Heather Mocha to keep my legs warm, or lighter weight nude tights.
I buy vintage from etsy sellers mostly, although I’ve gotten lucky at thrift stores now and again. I don’t strictly buy 1940s clothing, however, as old clothing is fragile given the age of the fabric (and tends to be expensive for something that can’t stand up to heavy wear). Instead, I look for 1970s/1980s-does1940s-style clothing as it tends to be in better shape and sized more for the modern figure. I do wear foundation garments to make my clothes fit/look better, but with 1970s/1980s era clothing, I don’t have to. I’ve also bought modern clothing that has vintage styling to it, but it has taken a while to train my eye to spot the proper details on a modern piece. This fall, I sewed a few pieces for myself, and have big plans for sewing more garments in the future.
1940s styling is mostly in the details—regular pin curl wet sets for hair, good foundation garments (panty girdles are a must!), brooches and earrings for jewelry, sturdy shoes. I stick to button down or surplice necklines to make breastfeeding easy, but am looking forward to the day when I can get some of my non-breastfeeding friendly dresses back out of storage!
For me, dressing this way makes me feel good about the way I look every day, and the journey of rediscovering old ways of dressing is part of the joy of it.
Thanks so much, Juliana! I think your vintage style is a perfect blend of fun, pretty, and practical!
- Style and the SAHM: A Series
- Style and the SAHM: Why It Matters
- Joy’s Mom Wardrobe: For When the Job You Want Is the One You Have (thisfelicitouslife.wordpress.com)
- Style & The SAHM: How To Look Less Bad (thisfelicitouslife.wordpress.com)