The end of the war in 1945 brought peace, but not prosperity and rationing continued. Post war austerity extended across Europe and into America too. Despite the shortages women turned to fashion again to lift spirits and feminine designs were announced to be back. The mundane work-wear sweater saw shoulders become more rounded and less padded and bows made a subdued return. By 1946 Fair Isle patterns were becoming popular (these also used up oddments of wool) and brighter colours were beginning to become eminent. Buttoned cardigans and V neck sweaters became popular replacing the yoke neck of the war years. Even old sweaters were being brightened with sequins and feather stitch returned to give a lacy look and had the advantage of using less wool in the knitting.
The feminine shape once again echoed to the ’30’s look and curves were accentuated once more, but fitting tended to be close to the body to promote a small waistline. Again the cinema brought fashion to the masses. Lana Turner dubbed the sweater girl and Veronica Lake showed the post war female audience how to carry off the feminine look. But it was not only the clothes that were changing, it was make up and attitude too. The complexion became clear and pale set off by jewelled earrings and a pearl necklace. To compliment this sophisticated look the sweater became delicate and lacy with a trellis pattern. Colours softened to pale pinks, blues and greens.
As the end of the decade approached the simple white blouse became popular worn under a knitted bolero, waistcoat or V neck sweater. Heavy patterning was achieved using ribs, cable stitch or bobbling. Buttons and frills returned to the yoke and bows were added to create that much desired feminine look. Below the waist slacks, culottes or shorts were popular for social events and a tailored full or narrow skirt for work, where some of the women had vacated wartime factory jobs for the more traditional clerical roles.
1947 saw Dior launch the New Look. The waist had to be no more that 24″, the hips were padded to accentuate their curved shape and the bosom pushed up to finish off the hour glass appearance. The end of the ’40’s was also to see the end of home knitted clothes, as machine commercially produced clothing prepared for the better times of the next decade.