In partnership with the Maine Memory Network Maine Memory Network

Historic Clothing Collection

1940-1950

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Summer weight suit, ca. 1948
Summer weight suit, ca. 1948Maine Historical Society

Limited French fashion influence during the war had the effect of encouraging home-grown American fashion design. In prosperous post-war America, New York, and California became centers of a successful and growing fashion industry mass-producing an abundance of affordable American designed, well-fitting clothing for college girls, women’s wear, and casual wear for every occasion and activity.

Red and green check suit, ca. 1950
Red and green check suit, ca. 1950Maine Historical Society

Dior introduced his famous "New Look" in 1947, two looks in fact, one flared skirted, and one slim and straight "pencil" skirted. Two suits in the MHS collection may be late 1940s possibly early 1950s interpretations of the new "pencil" skirt suit. A lightweight rayon of fine green and red lines (checks) giving a neutral colored appearance has a smooth seamed fitted hip covering jacket, with hip pockets, and a below knee, longer straight style skirt. Made of pale gray summer weight rayon, the other suit has a similar longer skirt, and neatly fitting hip-covering tailored jacket, with an attached short shoulder cape, a feature that lingered into the 1950s.