Finishing Touches: 1940s Evening Style

Finishing touches really lift an outfit, and if you have a specific period you're dressing to, you'll want to get it right. In this blog I'm going to give you some simple finishing touches to add to your 1940s clothing.

More than anything, though, you should look like you, from the 1940s. Not you in a 1940s costume. (Because there is a big difference!) Remember, this is the decade of World War II, which means the early 1940s feel very different to the mid 1940s, and the late 1940s feel different again.

Because of this huge variety, it can get a little tricky to navigate, but there are a few key finishing touches that will really seal that look.


For me, the classic 1940s look is what I think of as the 'victory roll horns'. It's essentially a half up, half down hairdo, where the part that is up is swept into two victory rolls, and the remaining hair is in soft waves or curls. Lana Turner is a wonderful example of wearing the rolls asymmetrically where one side is bigger than the other, but you can do them evenly sized and still look the part. 

There are hundreds of tutorials on how to do these on you tube, but I have a couple of key tips for you.

Don't do it on freshly washed hair, it needs a day or two of natural oils to stop it being frustratingly silky and stubborn. Also, once you have your hair how you like it, spray the hell out of it with hairspray, smooth it down with your fingers, and then with your hair dryer on its lowest setting, gently heat the hair and then let it cool. This should help it stay in play all day and night. (Tried an tested by me on many dance floors!)

Make Up:

This is where I refer to one of my personal style icons. Katharine Hepburn. 

Your brows want to be strong, long and well groomed. I personally use a brow get and apply it with an angled brush, but you could use a powder, or pencil. Brows in the 40s were thicker and elongated, which in my mind flatters the curve of the cheek. However big you go, try and keep them as natural looking as possible, and avoid the blocky end or fade out look that's currently trendy.

Eyelashes are long, curled, with plenty of mascara (and with false eyelashes on the outside of the lash line for a feline look), a small amount of eyeliner and whatever eyeshadow you fancy.

Lips are well lined and with a thorough coating of lipstick. The cupids bow isn't as emphasised compared to the previous decades we've looked at. Just follow your natural snap and all should be fine.



This will depend on where in the decade your outfit is from- remember that there was a world war going on, so the early and mid 40s will have a more practical aspect to the outfits. If you got a new pair of shoes they would need to work with all outfits, so go for a wedge or a smart lace up. Closer to the 1950s things were a little more fun and colourful, so don't be afraid to have fun with your footwear choices.

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You can choose from something a bit glitzier, like a metallic clutch, or go for a classic boxy bag. In the 1930s, shapes were simple, small and flat, resembling envelopes. Coming into the 1940s, styles got stiffer and more box like. This is the decade that Hermés was finessing what would become their iconic Kelly bag, so aim for that shape.

We have an excellent Kelly inspired bag in a range of colours. It's a great shape, a great price, and it also has a shoulder strap so it is extremely practical.

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We may not be so fond of it now, but matchy-matchy was IN. Matching earrings, necklace, bracelet, ring, brooch, button cover, cufflink? Yes please. In a troubling decade, women turned to jewellery to lift their spirits. Jewellery was available at a huge range of prices, and cost jewellery styles exploded with variety.

Wear as many matching things as you can bear, and then add one more!

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Here at Revival Retro we are huge fans of classic 1940s style so wherever you are headed for an event make sure to check out our current selection in store.

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