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1940s Civilian Clothing

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Last update:


03 Oct 2012:

Where to Buy Stuff page updated


















































































































































































































1930s and 1940s children's clothes saw a change from drab, monochromatic colours and natural fabrics to more colourful, patterned looks with some decorative touches. However, some parts of older customs such as practicality and proper body coverage were maintained.


Boys' Clothing

Very young boys wore knee-length shorts, very often with a short-sleeved shirt.  In the early 1940s boys wore matching suit trousers and jackets of wool or cotton twill, very much smaller sized versions of what their fathers' wore.  As boys grew older they wore full-length trousers, the change from short to long trousers being seen as a sign of manhood and was eagerly anticipated. Cuffs, pleats and extra pockets were eliminated in an effort to save fabric during World War II, and many households reused items and mended damaged clothing because of rationing.


Boys' Shoes and Accessories

Boys wore ankle socks and leather shoes in the 1940s. Often a white handkerchief was tucked into the breast pocket of a suit coat. Boys wore belts or braces to support their trousers, but please note these were button braces, not clip ons.  Young boys wore simple hats or caps to protect them from the sun and cold.


Girls' Clothes

Girls of the 1940s wore dresses like their mothers, or a blouse and short skirt.  If not the middle of summer, this would be topped with a knitted jumper or cardigan.

Dressed were often remade from household sheets, old clothing and other fabric items. Dresses were commonly knee-length, with short puffed sleeves. Cotton, linen and wool were fabrics used, whilst recycled ruffles and lace were added to increase the length of dresses (particularly for party wear) and to cover worn-out fabric.


Girl's Shoes and Accessories

Leather shoes or sandals were typically worn with white ankle or knee socks.  Simple satin ribbons were used to decorate a young girl's hair or to embellish a waistband on a dress or trim a hat. Ruffled yokes were added to dresses to embellish a plain outfit. Girls wore felt hats in the winter.  Berets were a popular choice of headwear, particularly in winter.















Original wartime photo of evacuees


Harry and Emily Cawley with their dad
Dave at Liverpool Blitz 70 in 2011


Kier Westerside-Downes in his 1940s
boy scout uniform