Fashion Flashback- Elegant Holiday Style Trends of 1947

Florence Gainor design- draped dress november 1947 vogue

Draped, ruched blouse. Florence Gainor design.

Last fall I did a post on “New Look” holiday fashions from 1947.  It featured those waist whittling fit and flared silhouettes that Dior made famous.  And  because I’ve recently acquired a Vogue Magazine from November 1947,  I thought I’d show you some more elegant fall/winter fashions from the late 40s. And maybe some of these looks will inspire you to come up with some styling ideas for your own outfits. Because after all, I’m a firm believer in dressing to please yourself, no matter what anyone else thinks or what the fashion magazines deem as IN STYLE right now.

Fashion in the post war era became much more feminine and ladylike.  Hemlines were lower than in the previous part of the decade. Because fabric rationing was coming to an end, designers were free to use more in their designs.  Draping and ruching was also a popular design element.

Wouldn’t this green striped gown be perfect for a formal holiday party?
Made in Avisco Rayon for Junior Formals.
Due to silk rationing in WW2, rayon became the fabric of choice.
1940s rayon is superior to much of the rayon fabric you see used in clothing today.
Today any clothing made with rayon that feels like the older stuff is usually a bit pricier,
but it is much nicer quality.

Avisco Rayon green stripe gown by Junion Formals 1947

Online Shopping TipIf you want to find dresses made in the beautiful silky rayons  of the 40s and early 50s use the search term “Cold rayon“.  That is the term experienced vintage collectors use to find dresses made in that type of fabric.

Rayon taffeta and satin evening gowns.
On left, Hattie Carnegie design.
The other two were gowns that could be custom ordered at Berdorf Goodman and Henri Bendel.
That’s right. Women could walk into a department store and have a dress custom made for them!
And notice the sparkly jeweled hair accessories.

You may not have an event to go to fancy enough to wear a gown like one of these, but
you could certainly wear a glitzy barrette or hair comb with your holiday outfit.

Like this one.

Evening gowns 1947

A fitted velvet jacket over a full rayon taffeta skirt.  Timeless.

velvet jacket-full taffeta skirt 1947

I don’t know about you. But I’m a big fan of damasks and brocades.

Love the textures.

The first is a Bermberg rayon damask dress by Judy n Jill.
The next is a “new look” damask suit by Chee Armstrong.
Never heard of either of these labels, but I’m now on the lookout for dresses by them!

Blue brocade Judy and Jill party dress-1947

chee armstrong-New Look Suit 1947

Often pictures in vintage magazines inspire my buying choices for the website.

The two beautiful blue gowns below resulted in me stocking this and this because
not only do I love the color blue, but all that draping and ruching is so flattering.

Now if only I could find exact matching gloves!

Blue Miss America gown-Cohama-fabrics-1947

Blue Patullo gown in Enka Rayon-1947

I love how women used to dress up, even when they were hanging around the house.
Hostess gowns and fancy lounging pajamas were what you wore when you were having company.
No sweats in those days!

This  pajama set has a fantastic novelty print that looks like Rubiks crossword cubes.  The chiffon scarf at the neck is a nice touch.
The pajamas were designed by Francis Sider who also designed some really cool swimsuits and sportswear.
You can read more about her here.
And how about  those strappy gold slippers, I want a pair!

Hostess Lounging Pajamas 1947


Called a hostess gown, at home outfit or a patio dress.
This one designed by Renie.
There was a  famous Hollywood movie costume designer by that name
but I’ve not yet been able to connect her to a dress label.
More snooping to do!

Rene Original Hostess Gown 1947

I like all these ankle strap styles that were the trend back in the late 40s.
They definitely added stability when wearing and walking in heels.
So practical AND pretty.

ankle strap shoes 1947

Box purses were another popular accessory trend.
Look at the cool way this Evans purse below opens.  This company also made gorgeous compacts.
And the brocade Magid bag is so chic. The Magid company is still in business,
but wish they would recreate some of these older designs.

Evans box purse 1947


Magid purse 1947

So there you have it. Hope these old school styles inspire you to try something new!

theresa-signature copy





By | 2016-11-23T13:31:17-04:00 November 23rd, 2016|Fashion|6 Comments

About the Author:

Hi, I'm Theresa, owner and chief classy dame at the Blue Velvet Vintage online boutique. Lover of mid century fashion and home decor, classic films, Old Hollywood, pretty dresses, red lipstick, swing dancing and retro culture in general. Between my ecommere site and vintage style blog my mission is to revive the eras of classy dressing and inspire women to add more glamour to their lives! So don't be shy! I love to hear from others who share my appreciation of the styles of the past.


  1. Theresa Campbell
    Theresa Campbell December 4, 2016 at 2:32 pm

    Thanks Liz! Glad you liked it. And I too wish I could buy them all 🙂

  2. Avatar
    Liz December 2, 2016 at 1:04 pm

    oh my can I buy them all! 1947 fashion was so wonderful and each and every item in this post showcases it perfectly. Great post!

  3. Theresa Campbell
    Theresa Campbell November 25, 2016 at 3:15 pm

    Yes, WW2 spurred the growth of American fashion designers because nothing was coming in from overseas.

  4. Theresa Campbell
    Theresa Campbell November 25, 2016 at 3:11 pm

    Yes they are. I’m on the lookout for a brocade bag like the Magid one for New Years. Hope I find one 🙂

  5. Avatar
    Vix November 24, 2016 at 1:07 pm

    Ye Gods, American vintage 1940s is a million times better than its British counterpart, mind you we were being bombed to buggery and lived on the ration. Fabulous. xxx

  6. Avatar
    Suzanne November 24, 2016 at 12:41 pm

    Oooh…those handbags are something special!


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