How Accurate Is 1940s Reproduction Vintage Clothing?

Beau Belle

How To Spot Authentic 1940s Reproduction Clothing

There are 100s of brands of reproduction 1940s and 50s clothing in the modern marketplace. Some are loosely inspired by vintage clothing, eg. a 1940s shirt dress with a modern novelty print such as cats or cupcakes. Others are striving to re-create authentic looks from the decade they represent. How accurate is 1940s reproduction vintage clothing, and moreover, how do you spot which retro fashion is the truest representation of the originals?


Womens Reproduction Forties Clothing

Original vintage dresses and suits from the forties and fifties tend to have more intricate detail in terms of seams and darting for an improved fit. As prices are driven down by demand for cheaper throwaway fashion, clothing manufacturers inevitably skimp in these areas to save costs. A lot of the great tailoring techniques of the past have been lost along the way, but any reliable reproduction manufacturer will attempt to recreate some of the old features without making the garments unaffordable.

Compromises may have to be made, such as when placing the zip of a 1940s replica dress correctly into the left side seam, a lightweight modern zipper can be used as opposed to a thick cotton one with heavy metal teeth. Machine embroidery rather than hand embroidery can still create an authentic look if copied closely as you can see from our Beau Belle dresses, pictured at the top of the blog. On the left is the original black and purple true vintage dress, and on the right is one of our replica Socialite Beau Belle dresses, in the navy blue colourway (it is also available in a deep burgundy red and a rich teal green).

Our own label Socialite range takes reproduction clothing to another level.  We choose original vintage items from our personal archive and replicate them as closely as we can. This guarantees the authenticity you would normally associate with the wardrobe department of a big-budget film, but with all the comfort and benefit of modern washable fabrics. In our Socialite womenswear range, we have produced several styles of dresses in various fabrics and colourways, all inspired by true vintage originals, and more recently a suit and coat have been added to our lineup.

Promenade 1940s Replica Coat

The image on the left is the original forties time preserved coat and on the right, Amelia models our own interpretation. Named the Promenade coat, it is near enough identical to the original 1940s coat. We have brought it into this Millenium with the update of a nice bright satin lining. We want to celebrate all that is good about forties fashion without adopting the drabbest elements from years of make do and mend. Also available in brown.


1940s Replica Victory Suit

Our Socialite Victory suit was taken from the original 40s, early 50s one I wore to Goodwood Revival the year before 'you know what' put a stop to events! It has all the clever darting and seaming plus the adorable eye-catching pockets.  I was nominated for the event's best-dressed competition so it was definitely a great pick for me to draft a pattern from. Also available in grey, to coordinate with our coats perfectly!

This video shows another of our Socialite label dresses, the Tribute, and it's original double elevens counterpart. Available in pink, green and navy blue.

Mens Reproduction Forties Clothing

The same rules apply when searching for reproduction menswear. The key garments that tend to be reproduced are shirts, jackets and trousers plus accessories such as Fedoras and trouser braces.

There are some informative sites and blogs out there for example the gentleman's gazette, which points out that even the costume designers for Downton Abbey didn't get everything spot on with their recreations of the show's vintage costumes. You can do a bit of research before you put together your period-accurate vintage looks. Did you know for example the pockets wrap around the sides on most original 1940s suits and the shoulder seams swing back from the natural top shoulder line so they are not visible from the front on a hanger?

Your compromise here might be a none working buttoned cuff.  Our Socialite suits have all these accurate features and more.

Socialite Jacket

Trousers should have a low rise and fit high on the natural waistline, like our own Socialite fishtail back trousers. There should be buttons to attach braces plus a button fly. Turnup hems were a popular feature, complete with pleated fronts with medium to wide legs that taper into a turnback cuff at the ankles. Side pockets were generally vertical rather than the slanted ones that are more common today.

Where shirts are concerned look for longer than average sleeve length, side seam godets and detachable collars.  Also natural high-quality cotton fabrics just like the originals. In the 1940s it was common for shirts to be pullover styles with a stitched reinforced 'bib'.  We have incorporated all these features into our own label Revival and Socialite shirts.

Shirts with Spearpoint Collar
Striped Shirt

We have also grown our range of men's vintage style shirts to include authentic 1940s style collarless shirts can be paired with detachable collars plus a  modest selection of casual pure linen short-sleeved shirts with notched cuffs.  

Our own Socialite menswear line is ever-expanding and very popular. We have produced knitwear, waistcoatstrouser braces, and more: please feel free to browse the entire men's Socialite replica vintage clothing line for more examples of well-observed and lovingly created 1940s vintage replica clothing.

To design, cut patterns and recreate clothing from yesteryear is a slow and expensive process but we are committed to bringing you more great designs as and when we can.  We have a few more ideas in the pipeline for Autumn Winter that we can't wait to share.  Signing up for our newsletter ensures you keep up to date with all our new stock as it comes in.

Have fun putting your own unique looks together.  

Thanks, Helene

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