If you are have the slightest hint of a fashionable streak in you, then the month of September must have been highlighted on your calendar. With the most influential fashion week gracing London from 16th – 21st of the month, the style hungry were out in full-force to catch a glimpse of next season’s hottest looks. As well as London Fashion Week, another must-attend event was the Vogue Fashion’s Night Out. Globally, fashion stores opened their doors after hours to allow elated shoppers to bag a bargain with a canapé in hand, sipping a glass of bubbly, all in the name of the fashion bible.
While the catwalks showcased the key trends for SS12, the weather took a dive and saw us reaching for our chunky knits in despair to brace the chill. But we are not ready to admit the sorry summer has fizzled out just yet and while some brave punters stay defiant in their shorts and flip flops, as autumn closes in, there is a new trend on the horizon. The high street has been transformed by fashion for the forties.
World War II had just as much an effect on fashion as it did on the staple buildings of gutsy London. Britain may have been at war, suffering blitz, blackouts and shortages, but that certainly didn't mean that women neglected their appearances. With men away fighting for their country, magazines and advertising campaigns still emphasised that women should always look their best. While bricks and mortar may not have stayed strong, the women of the 40s power-dressed their way to survival and fought to retain their femininity. Although it was an era of rationing and making do, fashion presented a challenge which women rose too and made it paramount to exude glamour and style with their wardrobe picks.
The Hollywood glamour of the 40s demonstrated by film scarlet’s such as powerful Marlene Dietrich and alluring Katherine Hepburn, led the way for others to follow. Despite shortages and extreme circumstances, a woman's duty to be beautiful was considered as all part of the war effort. The 1940s saw two distinctive styles in women’s clothing; from the beginning of World War II in 1939 till the dawn of Christian Dior's revolutionary 'New Look' in 1947.
1940’s fashion was elegant, refined and authoritative, reflecting the strong sense of purpose as women rolled up their sleeves and did their part on the home front. Now in 2011, trends from this iconic era have been recreated for the high street.
The forties trend was practically reinvented by Gucci for AW11 and was a big focus on the runway, as models embraced the wearable styles. Kate Moss set the precedence when she opted to adorn Miu Miu’s orange sequin and embroidered tea dress on the front of Vogue earlier this year in August. The look is incredibly feminine and oozes style, but also fronts a bit of an edge. The mix of old Hollywood glamour coupled with wartime thriftiness, creates the perfect autumnal look.
A tailored silhouette is key; cinched in waists and pencil skirts that fall just below the knee. The midi-length skirt that made waves for the summer continues to gain momentum throughout the winter months too. Skirt suits are making a comeback also, as the tailored dress tends to take a back seat. Shoulders should be strong and structured, but more subtle and feminine than the 80s – leave the Dallas look behind for this one. Next have a great selection of skirt suits that are carefully nipped in at the waist to give that curvy silhouette.
An over-the-knee pleated skirt in soft colours of dusty pink, salmon pink, cobalt blue and warm brown is a seasonal must. They should be worn at the waist, with a skinny belt and finish just over the knee. H&M have nailed this trend and hold a variety of colours and textures. Team with a cap-sleeved blouse and a pair of heeled brogues to finish the look.
Patterned tea dresses just over the knee in length are super sexy and incredibly wearable on a daily basis. Head down to Warehouse for some pretty dress staples. Look for square and high, straight necklines and experiment with colours such as red, blue and beige. Bold floral or sparrow patterns are bang on trend as well.
Loose blouses is another key trend for this era. New Look has got every colour and style of skirt covered with their autumn range. Collars should be traditional or rounded like Peter Pan shirts and sleeves should be puffed and cuffed. Keep your colour choices soft and muted with tones of peak, brown, burgundy and cream.
Accessorise with a faux fur stole. It adds that touch of glamour and oozes that romantic nostalgia. High street store Oasis stocks all kinds of faux fur items. Stoles work particularly well with dresses and over blouses, and with a brooch to fix each side together around your shoulders; your 1940s look is complete.