Accessories in the 1940s
If you’re a fan of sharp, tailored outfits with exquisite attention to detail and larger-than-life shoulders, then the style of the ‘40s could be just the ticket. Keep your eye out for the following pieces on your next vintage rummage.
The tilt hat
The tilt (affectionately known as the pancake hat) is a thin, round millinery piece that slants atop of the head, secured with pins, elastic or a headband. These rigid hats were constructed of silk, satin, straw, thick cotton or velvet and customised with flowers, netting, faux fruit, delicate bows and decorative pins.
If a hat isn’t your thing but you still want to tame those flyaway hairs, then a snood is the next best thing. Designed to keep curls firmly in place, it was one of the 1940s greatest hair accessories. Team it with flowers or a pin, for an added touch of elegance.
Not only were a pair of dainty gloves the perfect way to complete an outfit, but they also helped with hygiene – worn to protect against frequent disease and illness. During the war, material was rationed and cotton and rayon were the most affordable. One tip: it was the height of fashion to match them with your handbag and hat, so look out for the right shade in time for Revival.
With make-do and mend firmly at the forefront of women’s minds in the ‘40s, practicality was the order of the day. Leather handbags with handles to hold all of life’s essentials, including makeup, diary, purse, pen, gloves, handkerchiefs, were built to last for years. In the summer, crotchet and straw bags led the way, while the evening bag took on the form of ruched, shell-shaped, box, and reptile-skinned clutches.
Oxford or Brogue lace-ups were worn with a classic pointy toe and are still highly desirable today. With detailed upper stitching and layered brown or black leather uppers, they are the hallmark of a man. White buckskin oxfords were paraded in the summer by those that could afford them – the real height of luxury.
Before the waist-belt took centre stage, braces were all that a man had to serve his 1940s trousers. Find braces with patterns, stripes, bright colours to bring a dash of dapper, as the leather loops complete the ultimate ‘40s look with not a clip-on in sight.
Today, men in hats are a rarity, but in the 40s you were undressed without one. Timeless styles included the Trilby, Fedora and Homburg. In summer, a Panama would keep you cool, but a straw Boater is the winner. These classic styles are still being made today by Lock & Co. Hatters, the world’s oldest hat shop.
Other must-wear accessories for men in the forties included cufflinks, ties, cravats, key chains, pocket watches, ID bracelets and signet rings. And for women? Master your forties look with seamed stockings, corsages, knit turbans, bakelite combs, pompadours and pillbox hats.