Earlier this year I went to a 1940s-themed “Victory Ball” fundraiser. Guests were encouraged to dress up in their best 1940s attire. So of course I took this very seriously, did my research, and delivered. Today I’m sharing all the links for your own DIY 1940s costume for women.
(if you’re looking for a man’s costume…my husband got his at a local costume shop)
DIY 1940s Costume for Women
The first thing I learned when I started putting this costume together is that the 1940s are an underrepresented era in history when it comes to fashion. You want 1930s or 1950s? Your options are unlimited (flappers, poodle skirts, and cocktail parties galore). But if you’re going with the 40s? Kinda limited.
I had to piece together lots of articles and resources to come up with my final look, but it turned out great. I guess I should disclose here that I am not a fashion expert or fashion person, nor am I a history expert. But I am a great researcher and I read a lot of historical fiction and I knew what I wanted, so that has to count for something, right?!
Links to 1940s Costume for Women
This is where I bought everything that you see here. It was mostly on Amazon, with the exception of my coat, which I found on ThredUp.
(also – sorry about some of the blurry pictures. I wasn’t the one taking them!)
1940s Dress, Shapewear, and Stockings
1940s Dress for Women – Because it was the Victory Ball, I knew I wanted to go with a red, white, and blue theme. This dress is flattering, and comes in many colors. I chose navy. I picked it because I did some research on the popular cuts and silhouettes of the time, and this checked the boxes. The neckline and peplum are also popular choices for the era.
This green 1940s dress is also gorgeous and was a contender (maybe next year!).
1940s Shapewear – It might look a little different, and the fabrics might not be the same, but you better believe those 1940s lady had some shapewear going on under their dresses! I’m too cheap to buy Spanx, but this worked great.
1940s Stockings – This is an important little detail. Your stockings need to have seams in the back! You might get two pairs…I snagged mine early in the night and they had a run in them for the rest of the evening (it was small, and I hadn’t thought to buy a second pair, so I went with it).
It was February and I needed a jacket! Jakets were fun in the 40s. I love this one.
I found my jacket on ThredUp. I searched for fake fur/textured hip-length jacket and I liked the look of the one I chose.
Jackets in the 1940s were hip- or knee-length, often fitted, and very pretty! You have some liberty here to find something you will love.
1940s Shoes – These are the shoes I wore. They were perfect and I got tons of compliments on them. I bought the burgundy ones, but I would describe them as more red than burgundy. These shoes were labeled as 1950s shoes, but I did enough research to decide that these were close enough to being authentic. Sad story, lots of shoes in the 1940s, especially right after the war, were very practical and…boring. I couldn’t do boring shoes.
And not that these ones are boring – they’re not! – but here’s a pair that might be a little more 1940s authentic.
And here is another red pair that is really pretty!
If you’re going for a more neutral look, you’ll love these suede-like pumps.
I read in several places that it was on-trend for jewelry, purses, hats, and gloves to match in the 1940s. So as you’ll see, I went with gold (which was a popular color at that time). You can choose any colors you want! I obviously didn’t wear a hat, because those victory rolls were playing center stage. But maybe next time I’ll do a hat.
1940s Jewelry – This was another favorite thing, and something else I got tons of compliments on! I chose this after looking at lots and lots of pictures of women wearing 1940s jewelry. The shoes may have been basic, but the jewelry was not!
You can also buy authentic jewelry from the 1940s on Etsy.The same goes for basically anything…even dresses and shoes!
1940s Purse – I bought my purse because it matched my jewelry AND it had enough space for my gloves, mirror, and red lipstick! My exact purse is no longer available on Amazon.
1940s Gloves – Wow gloves are a hassle! I couldn’t deal. They stayed on for pics and came off for the rest of the evening. But they’re cute. Choose gloves that match your jewelry and purse.
1940s Hair and Makeup
Another disclosure here. I am not a hair or makeup expert. In any way, shape, or form. I took this hair to my hair lady!
The super classic and popular hair style of the 1940s that you see on my head here is known as Victory Rolls.
Makeup was neutral with defined brows and a colorful lip. Here’s exactly what I bought and used for my makeup (the eyeshadow palette is getting tons of use six months later):
- MAC Retro Matte Lipstick – Ruby Woo
- Wet ‘n Wild Lip Liner in Red the Scene
- NYX Tinted Eyebrow Mascara
- Matte Neutral Eyeshadow Palette (I mostly used the orange shade!)
- Maybelline Cheek Heat Gel Cream Blush