1940-1949

Stormy Weather

Stormy Weather

When 1940 rolled around the nation was finally recovering from the Great Depression. Although unemployment remained high and American farming was in precarious health a new sense of optimism was apparent. The psychological impact of hard times and poverty, however, would leave indelible marks on the young people who entered adulthood during the decade. Thrift and restraint became hallmarks of this generation.

World events progressed rapidly in the late 1930s and, despite strong opposition, the United States was drawn into the conflagration of World War II after the Japanese attach on Pearl Harbor in December 1941. The country’s entry into the war helped to spur on its sluggish economy, but sapped it of a significant portion of its workforce as young men were mobilized and soon departing for the conflicts in Europe and the Pacific. One of the market segments effected during World War II was fashion

Click here to download the PDF for the full exhibit description, 1940 -1949.
Developed by Guest Curator, James Hanley

 

Please scroll through the timeline below.


Indicates what can be viewed at The Bryan Museum


Indicates Galveston History

1940
  • World War II

    United States was drawn into the conflagration of World War II after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941. Fashion was majorly affected due to this war.

    1941
  • Impact of the L-85 Regulation

    United States War Production Board issued Regulation L-85 in 1942 that mandated a 10% reduction in the amount of fabric employed in the production of women’s swimwear. This quickly led to the adoption of two-piece ensembles by American women, but the style was not as groundbreaking as something similar was introduced alreay in 1936.

    1942
  • Shoes and Hats

    Sandals or shoes that were worn at the beach frequently featured open toes and ankle straps. This style became popular during the decade. Sometimes they were made in multi-colored designs like the ones shown here.

    Straw hats with wide brim styles, some with unusual treatments of the crown, were very much in vogue in the 1940s.

  • Beach Coats

    Short beach coats worn over bathing suits also became another trendy item of the decade.

  • Sunglasses

    Ray-Ban’s Aviator sunglasses featuring oversized teardrop-shaped lenses and a thin metal frame gained a significant following among men during the decade.

  • Bags & Totes

    Bags and totes, dedicated for use at the beach. grew in popularity throughout the decade.

    People began to carry more things with them for a day of sun and surf. These bags were largely made from straw or canvas and might be decorated with woven or printed patterns.

    *on view at The Bryan Museum

     

  • Stormy Weather

    1943
  • Pleasure Pier

    The Pleasure Pier was constructed in 1943. It served as a recreational facility for U.S. military personnel. After it served its purpose, it then became the largest amusement pier in America.

  • Magazine Covers

    In the 1940s LIFE magazine devoted at least ten issues to fashion on America’s beaches. Each of these editions featured a photograph of one, or at most two, women on the cover attired in swimwear in the latest style.

    1945
  • Showcasing Beach Life

    The covers of The Saturday Evening Post and The New Yorker, magazines oriented toward a wider segment of the public, provide images of Americans at the beach during and after World War II.

  • The Bikini

    A shocking new bathing suit style made its appearance. Two French designers claimed to be its inventor. Jacques Heim and Louis Réard. Heim called his bathing suit the “Atome” and Réard called it the “Bikini”. This suit was tiny, revealing the belly button and buttocks. Most public beaches banned bathers from wearing this new tiny form of swimwear until the 1950s.

    1946
  • French Bikini

    Woman at the bar in French Bikini, Atlantic City

    1948
1949