From 1940, fashion turned back to the Victorian age suddenly, especially formal gowns and dresses. The dresses embraced fitted bodices, puffed sleeves and large full skirts. The formal gown is classic, pretty, and teens wore to prom and women out to a fancy dinner with dancing.
Evening wear was one thing that still had glamour in the 40s. Dresses and gowns were simple but shiny, and did tend to be more on the casual side than anything in the decades before or after. These dresses were usually made from rayon taking the form of jersey, taffeta or crepe and fastened with metal zippers or small buttons in the back. Black was the most popular color, and pinks, reds and blues were often used as well.
The princess ballgown was inspired by Gone with the Wind. The very full skirt of the Victorian age was reduced to long, but semi full A-line skirts in the 1940s. A petticoat was worn underneath to add fullness otherwise skirts were simply cut wide or pleated at the waist or layered in tulle. Many dresses featured drop sleeves, hung around the shoulders which was a common style among Victorian ballgowns. Most modest designs had short cap sleeves or fuller puff sleeves that were common on 1940’s day dresses too. The princess ballgown was the most popular style for teens attending a prom.
One evening look during the 40s was the long gown and dinner jacket. It was a more grown up look than the princess gown. The gown was a column shape, long to the floor and straight or lightly gathered. It was usually plain or had beading or sequins at the neckline. A dinner jacket, fitted and usually short (to the waist), was worn on top of the dress. The dinner jacket was decorated with sequins and beads, either all over or down the front and had square shoulder pads.
Semi formal evening dresses also called cocktail dresses were also worn shorter, just below the knee, with a similar flowing skirt. Skirts were sometimes draped. They could have thin straps, but often also had short sleeves. These dresses often had shirring in the waist, one panel on either side, or in the bust. They also often had a cross-wrapped bodice with draping that took on the look of Grecian goddesses.