You Should Be Watching: Early 1940’s

After last month’s You Should be Watching on Series, the engaging TED Talk below was brought to our attention.  Over the past few months, I have also been keeping track of a number of valuable video resources available online which explore the transition from 1930’s glamor to 1940’s wartime austerity. Make Do and Mend was the  impetus for this month’s focus on early 1940’s fashion.

Make Do and Mend – TEDxUSU
Image: National Library of Scotland (GII.2005.2.3)

In this 15 minute talk, recently given at Utah State University, Nancy Walker discusses how World War II influenced the fashion industry. Walker covers new wartime styles, the advancement of manufactured and synthetic textiles, and the promotion of mending and reusing clothes. In addition, Walker covers the establishment of government sanctioned fashion restrictions, imposed first in England and later in the United States.

Make Do and Mend is an information packed talk, concisely introducing 1940’s fashion issues, making this video a valuable classroom resource.

1940’s Era Fashion Movies and Newsreels

There are numerous short 1940’s era videos available on YouTube. Simply searching, “1940’s Fashion” will give you hundreds of hits, some more relevant and worthwhile than others. I’ve done the legwork for you and here a few of my favorites.

Fashion Horizons (1940)
Produced by TWA and Paramount Pictures, this 1940 film follows a group of Hollywood starlets on a holiday get away. The 20 minute video is filled with constant costume changes, featuring leisurewear, travel suits, and Santa Fe inspired fashions. Accessories and menswear are also shown. I am particularly fond of the Halliburton luggage plug. I guess product placement isn’t such a new concept.

Aristocrats of Fashion
This campy 10 minute movie is filled with early 1940’s sportswear and evening wear. Produced by the Bamberg Corporation, the movie is actually a long advertisement for the company’s vibrantly patterned and “easy to clean” rayon textiles.
(Spoiler Alert: Charlie and Carol get engaged.)

U.S. News Review
Much more poignant is this series of patriotic World War II newsreels. The 15 minute films provide updates on military endeavors abroad, focus on domestic issues like childcare, and feature industrial influenced wartime styles. In this particular video, Veronica Lake models a practical new hairstyle, appropriate for women working in factories.

Holiday Inn (1942)

Take a break from all of your research and writing this holiday season with a Christmas classic. Holiday Inn is filled with fabulous Edith Head designed 1940’s gowns!

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