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Evening dresses were usually modest and high-cut in the neck, similar to day dresses of the time.
Cocktail party attire for the Christmas broadcast on Oct 30 1944 in Hollywood The group from left includes Virginia O’Brien, Frances Langford, Judy Garland, Dorothy Lamour, Ginny Simms, and Dinah Shore The beauty of 1940s formal dresses was all that was needed for a night out.
1930s formal gowns were long, sleek, and sexy – the basis for most modern formal wear today.
1940s formal dresses were usually made from rayon taking the form of jersey, taffeta or crepe and fastened with metal zippers or small buttons in the back.
Because of the War, wearing a long expensive ballgown wasn’t an affordable option for many.
Instead, semi-formal dresses, based on day and afternoon dress and suit styles, were upgraded with material and style. Every woman had one of these “going out” dresses in her wardrobe even if she didn’t have a fancy gown.
A shawl of the same material as the dress was a less costly alternative to furs. A high neck beaded or rhinestone necklace in single or multiple stands was the most popular.
To keep warm, a fur stole, was frequently seen on movie stars and in high-end fashion magazines.Some semi formal or cocktail dresses may have had a fancy brooch worn instead of a necklace. Shoes were usually simple pumps, without straps or ornamentation of the toe box.Black was the standard color, although a light color dress would need lighter shoes.Most ’40s formal dresses had sleeves, most modern gowns are sleeveless.Often the best 1940s prom dress selection is either grouped with “modest” prom dresses or with “mother of the bride” formal dresses.