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Tuesday, March 29th 2011

The ‘40s Look: Function & Fantasy

I love the '40s wartime look—it was such an interesting mix of exotic escapism and down-to-business functionality. From tailored tweed skirt suits and Rosie the Riveter's sensible headscarf to slinky evening dresses and Carmen Miranda's fruit hat, it was an era that embraced a woman's duality as both worker and goddess.

Necessity being the mother of invention, the war forced designers to adapt. Women needed sensible clothes, but they also needed a pick-me-up. Luxury materials were in short supply, so steel-arched stilettos were replaced with wedge heels, and colorful cottons took the place of silk frocks. The wardrobe became playful and affordable: mix-and-match brights for the woman who does it all.

To recreate the look, pick full bottoms, tailored tops, and eye-catching colors. Pair a maxi skirt or wide-leg Alice + Olivia pants (pictured) with a fitted off-shoulder top. Shoes should be sensible but ladylike wedge or T-strap heels (Rebecca Minkoff has some perfectly era-appropriate pumps). Once the sun sets, a little bit of dress-up is perfectly a propos: a bohemian Daughters of the Revolution skirt or a draped, vixeny Halston Heritage dress are oh-so '40s when worn with finger-wave hair and poppy lips.

--Rebecca

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