Vintage Maternity Series - The 1940s

1940s Vintage Maternity fashion style

Time for part two of the Vintage Maternity Garment Series, this time featuring the 1940s! 

There was not a huge change in maternity styles from the late 1930s to early 1940s, but fabric rationing during WWII seems to have played into designs later.

1940s Vintage Maternity fashion style

For this example, I’ve got a 1940s maternity pattern that was likely released during WWII. You can see that the top is a bit more streamlined than many 30s and early 40s patterns and takes out design features like pleats that used up more fabric. A shoulder yoke keeps the fit tailored at the shoulders and collar, and the gathers provide that extra roominess at the tummy. The set actually looks a lot like the non-maternity pantsuits and even pajamas of the time. A padded shoulder and tailored sleeve head matches the strong shoulder trend of the time, too.

Just like in the 1930s, stretch fabrics and elastics weren’t in common use yet, so this pattern makes use of waist ties to make the pants adjustable. (I have a more in-depth video on these trousers here.) Although these trousers have been fantastically adjustable in fit and really, really comfortable throughout my pregnancy… they are admittedly high maintenance to get on and off (for, say, the fifty times a day I need to go to the bathroom, ha!). 

1940s Vintage Maternity fashion style

The blouse that goes on top of it is basically a roomy version of most WWII-era blouses: button down, padded shoulder, collar, sleek design. I have a contrast facing on part of the collar and white buttons simply because I did not have *quite* enough gray rayon for the whole project, no matter how I arranged the pieces. I decided to roll with it and try to make it a design feature, like was actually pretty common in the 1940s anyway.

1940s Vintage Maternity fashion style

Although I’m highlighting a pantsuit for this post, the majority of 1940s maternity patterns and garments I’ve seen were still two piece or one piece dresses and sets. The skirts are shorter and more a-line than the decade before, in keeping with 1940s trends. On my vintage maternity Pinterest board I’ve got pictures of some other 1940s maternity patterns featuring smart design elements like drawstring waists and buttoned waistbands. (You'll also notice that the slip/dress/skirt feature is still popular, like in 1930s maternity!)

Toward the later part of the decade, the tops start getting more flowy and voluminous and are moving towards a 1950s silhouette. (More on that in the next post!)

What other innovative and interesting features have you seen in 1940s maternity sewing patterns or garments?

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