Last week we looked at fashion advice for plus size women in the 1940s. Fortunately for fuller figures, petite ladies, young misses, and mature women, fashions were developed to meet their specific challenges. For tall women, there was no specialty collection. If she was lucky, she might be able to buy a dress with an extra long hem. That would solve one of her dilemmas — but certainly not all of them.
Enter the 1940s fashion experts who offer advice for choosing the most flattering designs for the tall woman.
The following tips and advice are from several 1940s beauty books including “The Original Bonomo Hollywood Success Course Through Beauty of Face and Form” by Joe Bonomo, “Beautify Your Personality” by Hattie Marie Marsh, and “Beauty After Forty” by Edyth Thornton McLeoud.
1940s Fashion Advice for Tall Women
Dresses: Avoid long, tight fitting gowns or those in the princess cut. Avoid vertical panels, pleats, and trim that form long vertical lines such as rows of buttons or gathers from the shoulder to the waist. Instead, choose dresses with horizontal volume such as peplums, shoulder capes (see above), diagonal draping, and horizontal stripes. All this extra trim and material will detract from your height.
Skirts: A-line skirts with a good flair to the hem are ideal. Even better are skirts with soft drapery hanging down one or both side of the dress. Drapery at the back is also flattering. The “swing” of the skirt attracts the eye down. A horizontal stripe near the hem of the skirt creates a shorter and wider illusion.
Sleeves: A 3/4 length sleeve will be the most flattering. Wrist length sleeves or very short sleeves will enhance too much.
Necklines: You can wear any cut of a neckline as long as it is a low cut one. Skin showing around the upper chest helps your dress fit you better. But keep it modest! Women with small chests may not find a low neckline flattering. Add other details like a Jabot, ruffles, or a cape to enhance the bust.
Collars: Dress collars such as the pointed menswear inspired collar or round Peter Pan collar in contrasting colors to the dress are ideal. White against a dark fabric is the most versatile and readily available. Consider black or navy collars for late afternoon and evening wear dresses.
Materials: Choose heavy tweed, wool, wool-like Rayon, stiff cotton, and corduroy to add weight to your dress. It creates the illusion of being more grounded. Avoid light and airy fabrics.
Colors: Choose large prints, checks and plaids over small prints. Solid colors will always work for you too with the right accessories.
Coats: A boxy loose fitting coat in a 3/4 or hip length is best. Long coats should be avoided. Coats with wide lapels and double breasted design are the most flattering. A contrasting collar made of fur, faux fur, or velvet is suitable for you.
Hats: Choose hats with a straight or angled brim and flat crown. Avoid tall crown hats, turbans, small berets and knit beanies. Veils are becoming.
Hair styles: A tall woman is best with hair that has a flat top, full sides and longer length. Avoid short “bobbed” haircuts.
Belts: A wide belt in a contrasting color will break up your tall form. Belts should match your other accessories: purses, hats, shoes, gloves and jewelry. Belts in odd shapes are better than flat belts. Late 1940s style wide and shaped belts work best on your figure.
Jewelry: Long or 3/4 length necklaces are most suitable. Pendant earrings are a nice touch for evenings.
Shoes: Low heel shoes and dark nude hose as a good combination.
Gloves: Choose long gloves (gauntlet or over the elbow) in a bold color that matches your other accessories. Avoid wrist length gloves, especially with short sleeve dresses and tops.
Tall Women’s Variations:
Tall and Stout (plus size) – The rules for plus size body shapes usually trump the rules for tall women. Some exceptions include wearing contrasting color accessories, instead of plain ones, and wearing tops with collars.
Tall and Thin – The rules for thin women usually compliment those for tall women as well. Try both looks and see which one works best for you. (Fashion rules for thin women coming soon.)
New 1940s Style Dresses for Tall Women
Here are two 1940s style dress that fit the fashion rules for tall women:
See what other 1940s style dresses you can find here: