At the start of the 1940s, men’s shirts were being made in affordable cottons. There were few restrictions during the war, with the exception of some limited dyes, but overall, men had the same selection of shirts that they did in the 1930s. After the war, men’s shirts shifted into soft pastel colors and smaller patterns until the late 1940s revived deep tones and a slimmer fit.
1940s Men’s Dress Shirts
Most dress shirts in the early 1940s were gemstone colors with a noticeable pattern of stripes, checks, plaid, or small dot like figures. Teal blue-green was very popular, as well as the classic grey, white, blue, and peach. In the mid 1940s, the colors turned to pastels and muted tones of blue, tan, green, or grey. After 1948, the newest colors were called “mellow,” although they looked more cheerful and saturated to me: pink, peach, sky blue, and sage green.
The fit of men’s dress shirts was quite baggy, however shaping to the torso began in the mid-1940s. They are nowhere close to the “slim fitting” shirts we see today, but an overall more fitted shape reduced bulk under suits.
Most shirts had a single cuff with buttons or a French cuff held with cuff links. In the early 1940s, some shirt makers experimented with snap buttons.
After 1948, the new Bold Look influenced men’s shirts. The biggest change was the new “command collar” — a spread collar with stitching half an inch from the edge instead of an 1/8 inch. French cuffs were longer and treated with the same stitching. Button plackets and buttons were also wider. It was a short lived style.
Gallery of Men’s 1940s Dress Shirts:
- 1930s Men’s Shirt Styles and History
- 1950s Men’s Dress Shirt History
- 1940s Men’s Casual Clothing
- Workwear and Uniforms for Men in the 1940s
- 1940s Shoe Styles for Men