With my finished novel, Bright Spirit, in the safe hands of my editor, it was time to start a new novel. It’s partly set in 1940’s Brisbane. I’ve written the prologue and a couple of thousand words of the first chapter. I love Brisbane and I’ve holidayed there many times. I’ve travelled to the far north of the state, staying at Mission Beach, and on visiting a ruined castle in the rainforest found inspiration there for my novel Castle of Dreams. I absolutely love research and going down the rabbit hole is fun but I warn you research is a long piece of string! I found a site on the Internet while researching 1940’s fashion. I will leave the details at the end of this post in case you are interested. It’s a wonderful asset for any writer and also for those with a love of in fashion in general. I hope you enjoy it!
As a writer I have to research the fashions of the time I am writing about and the 1940’s is definitely a period I love. In 1940, American, Claire McCardell introduced her ‘Popover’ dress. Though the wrap dress was originally introduced as a seven dollar utility garment, it quickly became a staple in her arsenal.
Seamwork’s Betsy Blodgett writes of the dress,
“McCardell came up with a denim wrap-front dress. It was simple, chic, and even came with an oven mitt… A version of the Popover wrap dress was included in collections for the rest of her career” (Deconstructing Claire McCardell).
McCardell’s easy to wear, fun, comfortable clothing, like the 1945 striped sundress and the roomy dress and coat ensemble from 1947 continued to be successful into the 1950s. Thanks to the wide appeal of McCardell and Norell, along with the work of London designers such as Hartnell and Amies, both the US and Britain hoped to continue leading fashion on the world stage after the war ended. While their international fashion profiles had increased, liberated Paris was eager to retake its status as the fashion capital. Thanks to Christian Dior, it certainly did.
McCardell’s designs were sporty, casual, and practical. She deftly navigated rationing restrictions and produced designs that went on to be classics. When wool and silk were limited in 1942, she looked to denim, seersucker, and jersey to create classic dresses and separates.
My 1940’s characters including Lili and Caro are sure to wear something similar to these fabulous fashions.
I think this image personifies the 1940‘s.
I’m imagining my character Caro just like this, full of joie de vivre, and rather beautiful.
Lot’s of fun to be had at dances during wartime.
There’s a very special scene I am imagining for my characters who no doubt will attend a dance as it was such a popular outing for young people in the 1940’s.
McCardell’s 1945 striped sundress.
McCardell’s , 1947 Pop-Over dress.
DETAILS: FASHION INDUSTRY OF TECHNOLOGY, STATE UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK.
The Fashion History Timeline is an open-access source for fashion history knowledge, featuring objects and artworks from over a hundred museums and libraries that span the globe. The Timeline website offers well-researched, accessibly written entries on specific artworks, garments and films for those interested in fashion and dress history. Started as a pilot project by FIT art history faculty and students in the Fall of 2015, the Timeline aims to be an important contribution to public knowledge of the history of fashion and to serve as a constantly growing and evolving resource not only for students and faculty, but also for the wider world of those interested in fashion and dress history (from the Renaissance scholar to the simply curious).
The Fashion History Timeline is a project by FIT’s History of Art Department. The Timeline offers scholarly contributions to the public knowledge of the history of fashion and design. Consistent with this mission, the Timeline’s written commentary, research, and analysis provided by FIT students, faculty, and other members of the community is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Unless specifically noted, images used in the Timeline are not subject to this Creative Commons License applied to the written work from the Timeline. While every attempt at accuracy has been made, the Timeline is a work in progress. If you have suggestions or corrections, please contact us.
Claire McCardell (American, 1905–1958). Pop-over, 1942. Cotton. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, C.I.45.71.2a, b. Gift of Claire McCardell, 1945. Source: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Claire McCardell (American, 1905-1958). Sundress, 1945. Cotton. New York: Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2009.300.230. Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Gift of Claire McCardell, 1956. Source: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Thanks to the Fashion History Timeline and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.