1946 Fashion? What does that even mean?

Here at Retromat we are happy to be one of the many awesome sponsors for the Greater Boston Vintage Society’s upcoming Winter Formal, which promises to be a most elegant shindig.


Here’s the trick, though: Because they’ll be showing It’s a Wonderful Life, which was released in 1946, the organizers are asking all of those in attendance to shoot for that 1946 look. Several lady members of the Society have experienced some qualms about such a specific target. What exactly does 1946 look like in women’s wear?

Normally it’s almost impossible to pin down a vintage look to a single year, but 1946 is actually a great year for them to have chosen. In fact, it’s going to be a piece of cake to dress appropriately. Why? Because that year was a major transitional period in women’s fashion, which means we have a great deal of freedom to dress almost any way we please.

We are heading into an era of post-war prosperity—but we aren’t quite there yet. So while people want things to be new and fun, and there are emerging trends (some of which will last and some of which won’t), there are also plenty of old standards hanging around, partly from nostalgia for the pre-war period, partly from the continuing recovery from the shortages of the war.

What this means for us is that you can be realistic. There were plenty of gals in the mid-late 40s that still went for the more feminine vibe of the late 30s, so you’ll find dresses from designers of the period that still have that classic slightly more frilly feel.  Just look at this 1946 pic of our friend Norma Jean.

Marilyn - Screen Test 1946.

Marilyn – Screen Test 1946.

Very young and fresh. 1946.

Very young and fresh. 1946.

Some designers are working firmly with the mid-40s look that is most identified with this period—clean lines, high waist, wide shoulder, cigarette.

Gene Tierney. My Idol.

Very classic noir feeling 40s


But don’t think your options are limited. After all, with the end of the war there are certainly those women and designers who are charting the future… Dior’s New Look, for instance, is already starting to emerge in ’46 and it was absolutely official by ’47. So, break out a cinched waist and big circle skirt for the Winter Formal. Sure, we might think of them as classically 1950s, but they certainly won’t be out of place here.

Looks sorta 50s, but this is 1946. 1946!

The point is, there’s no reason to go crazy trying to be perfectly authentically 1940s. No, you don’t want to stand out from the crowd with a 60s mini-dress. But you do want to look and feel gorgeous, and this period provides lots of options for looking “right,” even if your outfit is a few years in either direction of the target. Even if you don’t want to buy vintage, you can look for something that is new but has the style lines that invoke the era we are shooting for.  Have fun with it, don’t make it difficult for yourself.  This should bring you joy.  PLUS – many of you are going to want do dance… and so keep your skirt style in mind with that.  No gal is going have fun trying to swing in the thinnest tightest floor length pencil skirt going.

Below, I have gathered images from high end designers, hollywood films and also every day shop adverts as well as a family wedding photo – mostly trying to be diligent about making sure they are from the year 1946.    I did grab a few earlier 40s images for this.  It’s not like we hit 1946 and every woman had to burn her old stuff or throw it away… so anyway, that said – here you are:  CLICK the PIC and you can scroll through the show.

Pop Quiz – Happy Birthday to Edith.

Readers, I really have not had the time to regularly write my blog due due to real life vintage shows. However, I do have time to celebrate the 116th birthday of Edith Head, a designer who created some of the most amazing film costumes ever.

When I was young and would watch films with my mother (which was nearly every day) she would always pay close attention to the opening credits and then turn to me and say “Just remember, If you see Edith Head as the costume designer it will always be a good movie…”  This was the kind of priceless knowledge passed down in my family.

And frankly, I still check every time.  And it is always true.

So for today’s quiz… I am going to give you four sketches from Edith.  Tell me the actor and the film that each sketch is for!  Bonus if you know the scene from the movie.

Ready?  Go!


EdithOne EdithFour EdithThree EdithTwo



Coming soon! The Vintage Bazaar…

The Vintage Bazaar will be at Pettengill Farm in Salisbury MA on Saturday Sept 21st and Sunday the 22nd 2013.  For more information you can see their website: http://www.mybazaarlife.com

Retromat will be there with Rosie and she makes a great fitting room for trying on vintage clothes!

Come out and see what we have to offer. There are housewares, barware, super picnic stuff, mens and ladies hats and accessories, cute bags, bowling shoes…vintage typewriters,  great jewelry.  And of, of course, super cute vintage clothing.  That is JUST Retromat.  The whole fair has something for everyone.  There is a vintage motorcycle show on Sunday and they have some really cool food trucks as well!

Here is a sneak peek at some of my current inventory:

What to do, what to do…

Help me, readers.  I have this really cute phone bench to sell at my next vintage market and I can’t tell if I ought to try and recover the seat … or just leave it?

Here it is…






You can see where I at least removed the really scary yellow plastic that someone had covered it in.  The original blue knit fabric is intact, but has serious issues around the edges.  It is very discolored and fragile.



I have some fabric lying around that could be really cute… (click the pic for a bigger view)


SO, cover it? And if so, with which one?

Also… I will not paint it.  Don’t even suggest that, please.  There are painters of wood, and non-painters of wood.  I fall into the second category on this bench.  I totally get the bright white, turquoise, mint green, paint the old wood thing – with certain pieces.  But not every stick of vintage furniture needs to be made bright, shiny, chic, or shabby.  This bench is staying natural. At least while I have it. :)

Anyway, give me your thoughts on this one… I just cant make up my mind!