The 30s and 40s were undeniably fashionable decades, with garment technology making strides and the birth of the house of Dior in the late 40s. A defining piece of women's fashion from the era was the tea dress: with its flattening, nipped waist and full skirt.
Despite the tragedy of the Second World War, this period of fashion history is often defined by glamour and romance. Skirts were full, sleeves were puffy or frilled and waists were nipped in perfectly. As a result of the war, the American ready-to-wear scene flourished, introducing sportier lines and opting for more accessible fabrics.
Muted colours were also in style, with prints dominated by florals and gingham check, much like the fantastical land that was the backdrop for the now classic film, The Wizard of Oz.
However, as a juxtaposition to the utilitarian styles of the 40s, colour palettes became brighter and fun. Hemlines rose to accommodate practicality and fashion drew heavy influence from stars such as Rita Hayworth and Diana Vreeland.
Rationing continued beyond the war, but 1947 saw Christian Dior debut his now infamous ‘new look’ collection, which emphasised and cemented the already feminine and flattering silhouette of the decade.
The collection introduced styles such as the A-line and the Bar jacket, focusing on form and technique- which we have also done in the creation of our Rita dress.
The pattern for this gorgeous garment was made from scratch but inspired by the styles of the 30s and 40s. This accommodates the modern woman's body, which is often very different from the figures of the 30s, but is just as flattering as the dresses of the time were.
With its high neckline, gather on the bust and high-waisted fit, it really is one of the most flattering and versatile dresses you could own. The dress is cut on the bias, creating a fluid, waterfall hem that moves perfectly with every step.
We took inspiration from other 1940s styles for the Rita dress. Image from Google
The dress is mocked up in a toile first (almost like a rough draft of a garment, made in a simple fabric) and then, once the fit is perfected, we create a sample in our chosen fabric, often making a few to truly hone the shape and fit of the garment.
For this piece, we also created a beautiful disty floral print in a classic autumnal 1930s palette. The print features a repeated motif of flowers, leaves and berries for a festive touch.
Styling the Rita
Despite not being an exact replica of a 30s or 40s dress, the Rita is an instant classic and equally as versatile, as the slow fashion model of the time often allowed clothes to be. It’s authentic and stylish, fitting in at any event: whether it's a decade-themed party or just a picnic in the park.
The dress lends itself to many occasions, with a detachable belt that means you can mix and match your accessories as you please.
For a coffee date or lunch out, pair the Rita with some neutral-coloured tights, vintage lace-up heels or flats. But to take this look to evening wear, add some of our beautiful jewellery with a selection of bangles and a statement necklace.
Share you Rita looks with us at, @weekenddoll on Instagram.
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