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Tag Archives: vintage fashion

How to Plan a Wartime Wedding

From the Australian Women’s Weekly, February 1940 –




Fifth Avenue Fashions 1940

Fabulous fashions photographed New York in March 1940 – 


Sewing Bees in Wartime

We hear a lot about ‘Make do and Mend’ during Wartime, especially when clothing rationing was in effect,  but maybe you haven’t heard about sewing bees. Quilting Bees were popular in America in the early 1800’s, as a way for women to meet others and tackle large quilts that would be cumbersome by themselves. They provided socialization, friendship, wisdom and sharing of supplies and tools,  and basically involved a group of women getting together and sewing.

The first mention I have found of a wartime Sewing Bee is in this article from December 1939 –


30 December 1939 Australian Woman’s Weekly

Red Cross Sewing Bees see to become popular in Australia.


27 April 1940  Australian Woman’s Weekly

Queen Elizabeth (the Queen Mother) was probably the one who began to make Sewing Bees popular in England and Australia during the War, forming a Red Cross Sewing Bee for the women of the royal household at the palace each week from as early as November 1939.


15 June 1940 Australian Women’s Weekly

You can also watch a little video her Great Sewing Bee of 1939 here.

This article from the American Woman’s Weekly in March 1942 is a little different, as rationing is not really mentioned, and the ladies are sewing more for themselves than the troops, but it is interesting to ‘see’ these ladies in action at their sewing bee.




Sewing Bees are obviously meant to be a cooperative event. There is a recent British TV show called ‘The Great British Sewing Bee’ which is a reality TV contest type show, which to me loses the point of sewing bees, but you can watch it here.

Have you joined a Sewing Bee or thought of doing so? Tips for joining an online sewing bee can be found here.

Fashions for January 1940

More January fashions, this time from 1940, and Summer in Australia.  The war had only been going a few months at this stage and long  and full skirts are still popular. 

rice starch ad1940

Rice starch, an essential fashion tool

Beach fashions 1940

Beach fashions 1940


vintage 1940s fashion


vintage fashion 1940

 Fasjion patterns are still being sold for the making of new garments, still using quite a bit of fabric. I love the school tunics! fashion patterns 1940 Frocks for maids (teenagers) and children – love the check playsuit grace brothers ad 1940   

Fashions for January 1939

I always think it’s interesting to get an idea of what fashions were like before the war to see how they changed, and to see what women may have already had in their closets.  So today, some prewar fashions from January 1939 and advice on how to dress.

Actress Joan Fontaine in ruffled  dress, 1939

Actress Joan Fontaine in ruffled dress, 1939



Actess Priscilla Lane in a gold evening dress, 1939

Actess Priscilla Lane in a gold evening dress, 1939




A stylish hat and gloves change the look of a black dress

A stylish hat and gloves change the look of a black dress



vintage hats

What ever happened to our love affair with hats?


the versitile little black dress, ever popular

Long full dresses for evenin were all the rage in 1939

Long full dresses for evenin were all the rage in 1939

Wool was always a popular fabric in Australia, Simmer and Winter

louise campbell

Full Aline below knee 30s skirt

Shoes for Summer 1939

Shoes for Summer 1939

Black and white vening dresses 1939

Black and white vening dresses 1939

Evening dresses 1939

Evening dresses 1939

Melbourne Cup Fashions, 1940 Style

  vintage melbourne cup 
This week saw the 150th running of the Melbourne Cup – won for the first time by a woman! Not only that, but the coveted fashions on the field event was won by someone in a dress made by their mum!


Emily Hunter won fashions on the field in a vintage look home made dress

I think it’s a great 50s style dress, and a wonderful foile for that stunning fascinator.  It’s also quite demure, which made a nice change from many of the dresses on show – do we really need to see bosoms in daylight Girls?

Back during WWII, a sleeveless dress would not have been considered demure.  Sleeves were either long or just above elbow length. Hats were either pillbox small or large brimmed, and fascinators were strictly evening attire. In 1940, “frocks were subtly flattering.”

 vintage fashion melbourne cup  melbourne cup fashion 1940 
Girls may have bought a new outfit for the Cup, but it would be a daytime dress or suit that they could wear again and again. Hats were often simple ones tricked up at home with netting, ribbon and feathers.  Not many women would have spent a weeks wages on a hat or fascinator.

 Many girls would have made their own dress – or got there mum to make it! These patterns from 1940 could be made and worn to the races.
fashions from 1940 
Good on Emily and her mum for bringing home dress making into the news!

Pep up your Summer Suit, 1940s Style


Coco Chanel always believed a suit to be the best investment a woman could make.  I would love a nice suit, but here in North Queensland the jacket is only worn when the air-con is too cold, or in the middle of winter. I am planning a trip down south in Autumn, though, so I may invest!  I am tossing up between a 40s style suit from UK small business HeyDay Vintage, and a 50s style suit from Aussie company Bombshell Vintage (who also does make to order). In the meantime, here is some suit advice from February 1942 –


The Latest Fashions from Hollywood, January 1942

Brights were big in 1942 – Peggy Moran exposes her midriff in a red ensemble featuring bright hibiscus flowers, and Arleen Wheelan wears a dress in a modern paisley fabric.



Claire Dodd wears a cute little floral playsuit, while  Nancy Kelly accessorizes her pale grey dress with a vibrant striped silk turban and matching handbag.


I love the white sandals – and if i had a midriff to show off, I would certainly wear the playsuit and the red outfit now. What about you?

Fashion forecast, 1942

Do your thoughts turn to fashion at the end of the year? “What will we be wearing next year”,  or “what can I do to spruce up my wardrobe”? During the war years women planned their wardrobes ahead, making what they needed, improving last years models where they could.  Here are some ideas from December 1941.




Using odd bits and pieces for fashion, 1942

During the war fabric was rationed in Australia as well as in the war zone – it was needed ‘for our boys’ – silk for parachutes, drill for uniforms and wool for overcoats.  Women not only ‘made do and mended’, they became creative in using the bits and pieces of fabric they had to make new garments, with with patchwork, or in creations like these.


Australian Women’s Weekly, October 1942 



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