Tag Archives: 1940s Fashion

Jezebel (1938)Directed by William WylerShown: Bette Davis

Bette Davis: Iconic Eyes & Magnificent Gowns

Jezebel (1938)Directed by William WylerShown: Bette Davis3633295963_aa35c8e6f3Just the other day I was having a conversation with my mom about our favorite Bette Davis films and while flipping through the channels, we stopped by our favorite, TCM, and they showed a preview of JezebelI had quickly forgotten which day it was supposed to air, but as I sat down this morning to write, I realized today was a Bette Davis marathon on TCM; I’m not going anywhere for hours.

Jezebel is one of my favorite Bette Davis films. I love it for many reasons (the acting, the plot, the set design,) but my favorite aspect of the film are the magnificent gowns that Bette Davis wore. She had several gowns that would cause any bride-to-be to have envy, and the picture at the top (and to the right) of this post happens to be my favorite gown from the film.

It’s such an elegant gown that exudes class and subtle sex appeal. The gown doesn’t need a plunging neckline or a massive amount of cleavage (which wasn’t a trend back then) to set the tone.

So how is the tone set in many of her classic films? The big eyes and gaze of Bette Davis could show sexual desire, sadness, happiness, fear, and a myriad of emotions in between. She didn’t need to try too hard or have thousands of lines (even though she did,) but all she had to do was gaze in one direction and you knew she was madly in love or hated the ground her suitor walked on. It could go either way.

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You’ve probably, well hopefully, have heard the phrase “Bette Davis eyes.” Yes, it’s a classic song by Kim Carnes, but it also set the pace for the true meaning of acting with your eyes. Bette Davis had distinctive eyes that conveyed many emotions, and a lot of her films featured close-up scenes that allowed you to dive into her eyes and read her mind…

In most of her films she played the character you loved to hate or hated to love. Yet, once you begin one of her films, you have to watch the entire plot unfold and see what happens. And if anything, if you don’t watch it for the intricate story and her deep eyes, then watch it for the wonderful fashions.

I highly recommend if you have TCM that you enjoy the Bette Davis marathon today. And if you haven’t seen one of her films, then go browse YouTube or Netflix and get lost in Bette Davis’ eyes… :)

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The Timeless Fashion of the 1940s

Barbara Goalen in Fashion Shot by John French

As I often watch classic films from the 1940s and early 50s, I always wonder what it would be like to wear evening gowns and siren suits everyday. I know there are a lot of women out there who wear dresses, heels, and glamorous clothes on a daily basis, but the fashion of the 40s was all about tailored class versus trendy sex appeal. In many ways the fashion of that decade can be noted as the emergence of office attire, i.e. work suits for women.

The women didn’t just wear suits and tailored dresses just to impress, but it was also a reflection of the rations that had been implemented during WWII. The war didn’t just have a great social impact on humanity, but it also changed the livelihood and fashion of the average woman. While the men were off fighting to serve and protect our country, the women were left at home taking on new job opportunities and exploring a new sense of fashion to fit their work needs. While rations on items such as sugar, beef, coffee, butter, and canned goods were put in place, rations were also placed on fabrics. The amount of material allotted to an outfit was limited, so women began wearing tailored suits, pencil skirts, and tailored dresses during the daytime. However, when the evening came it was their time to shine and adorn themselves with jewelry and beautiful evening gowns that would leave an eligible bachelor speechless.

Fashion trends of the 40s and early 50s, even the early 60s, are still alive today. There may not be rations and a ration point system on the amount of fabric purchased, but designers still present timeless looks that are a staple of class for the everyday woman.The tailoring doesn’t just have to be a plain jane look; some suits are very asymmetrical when it comes to the cut and form. I think the true beauty of a woman is when she is able to pull off a variety of styles, even wild and avant-garde looks, but she also knows how to look flawless and pristine in a tailored suit or dress.

Some women don’t wear tailored clothes on a daily basis, but I’m the type of woman that can’t wait to have a lavish wardrobe filled with tailored pieces. There is something so subtle yet ravishing about a pencil skirt hugging my curves and a tailored jacket that leaves a hint of peek-a-boo cleavage. I don’t have the money yet to afford all the clothes I want (last year of college, waiting to graduate and get job writing,) but watching classic films and viewing the photography of John French has inspired me to keep my eye on the prize; a year from now I’ll be working that full time job in a office and wearing tailored suits and pencil skirts that make me proud to be a tall curvacious woman.

A lot of fashion trends come, then go, then come back for a celebrity trending season, then go out of season again, and then attempt a comeback but quickly get replaced a day later. I totally understand the whole concept of trends and originality, but I also love the timeless look of a good old fashioned tailored look. The women during the 1940s and 50s knew how to transition from an tailored suit into a stunning evening gown that could ensue “Who is that woman” whispers in a crowded room. You know the type of whispers I’m talking about! Usually in the movies the sexy damsel will strut into a room with a “come hither” sultry look that catches the eye of the leading man. Watching play out in a classic film is priceless! Even today that “come hither” moment still takes place.

We’ve all been somewhere and have seen a stunning woman walk with such such confidence and class that we immediately wonder who could that woman be. Women, we usually admire her outfit, or some women tend to just hate (I don’t like hating on other females.) In contrast, a man will see this sexy woman and might be captivated by her looks; he might even take that daring step and be the one to approach her.

The transition from day to night, infused with such passionate stories of love and triumph, are truly what make watching classic films from the 40s an amazing experience. Those films may be in Black and White (which I love!) but the fashion and elegance that those women exude are timeless looks that every woman should consider. A alluring, sexy, and confident woman knows how to wear any style or trend, but she has an irresistible vibe of class that makes the statement come to life.

©Jasmine McGee.ThinkSoul25. http://thinksoul25.com