1940 - 1946: Through the Upheaval

Women were again welcomed into the workforce at the onset of World War II as men departed for war. Women’s fashion of the era remained easy in movement and care and simple in style to accommodate active women.

Except for a hiatus during World War I, Paris had remained the center of fashion innovation that all other nations adapted and followed. The German invasion in June 1940 ended Paris’ absolute supremacy in fashion. Several design houses closed in Paris to reopen in England and the United States. This opened the door to new designers in both countries, scattering the source of fashion inspiration. As Europe struggled to regain footing, New York made its first major bid to become a fashion center. American designers especially excelled in crafting new sportswear for both sexes.

Throughout the Great Depression and World War II, fashion designers continued to work and to change the style of dresses. Hemlines went up and came down, skirts flared while cut on a bias and became straight, ensuring fashion did not stagnate during these difficult times.