Social History

Women Getting Fed up Modern Clothes are Going Back to the 1940s

1940s was a strange time. The second World War was raging and the world was anxious.

People today are anxious to help the environment in any way they can. And if they can look like glamorous throwbacks to the heady days of post war Britain while they do it, so much the better.

Emma Parker and Lara Clark are best buds who live in England. About five years ago, they began bonding over vintage fashion on (where else?) a Facebook chat group.


Today, that passion for everything retro – specifically the 1940s – infuses their look, their homes, and their travel plans. Together they share an Instagram page called “The Vintage Tourist,” on which they  post news of their travels finding treasures from across Britain and abroad.


two women dressed in 1940s clothes
Credit: Emma Parker & Lara Clark

But it’s not all in the name of looking like glamour ladies from that era. Both women tired of purchasing clothes in the “fast fashion” mode – clothes that are cheaply made and quickly tossed into landfill. Knowing how bad that is for the environment, they decided to wear their collectibles.

Clothes made in the 1940s, Emma and Lara say, were built to last. Photos of them wearing everything from skirts to hats to scarves and more from the period attest to the  durability of clothes made 80-plus years ago. They still look smashing on both women.

Normal Wear

They wear the vintage fashions while doing mundane chores like grocery shopping. And boy, do they turn heads while doing it. Folks stop to admire the women’s bravado as much as they do the outfits.

They each have a room in their homes “retrofitted” with treasures from the post war period. Lamps, wallpaper, rugs and stacks of magazines from the 40s line shelves. While both women would gladly redecorate their entire houses in vintage furnishings, they admit their families vetoed the idea a few years back.

While the friends clearly enjoy travelling to find new pieces and wearing them daily, looking good is not their sole motivation. Ditching fast fashion is one of the best – and easiest – ways for women to make a concrete contribution to helping the environment.


Consider, for a moment, that every year 500,000 tonnes of microfibers go into the ocean just from washing clothes. That’s according to the World Economic Forum. Microfibers are a key part of the synthetics used to make everything from women’s blouses to pantyhose. 

And fast fashions are responsible for much of that waste. Another frightening statistic is this: 20 percent of global pollution from industrial waste water comes from the fashion industry. (That’s from the United Nations Alliance for Sustainable Fashion).

Many clothes in the early and mid part of the 20th century were made from natural fabrics, like cotton and wool. Consequently, they last a good deal longer than the cheaply made items lining racks in women’s wear stores nowadays.

two ladies in a tea shop with cakes
Girls just want to have tea! Credit: Emma Parker & Lara Clark


Looking at photographs of Lara and Emma decked out in their vintage regalia, it’s easy to understand why the women are so taken with the post war period. Great Britain and its allies had just won the war, soundly defeating the Nazis in 1945.

The country was in a celebratory mood. While food was still rationed for a while, folks gathered to party and toast their nation’s victory. Women pulled their finery from the back of closets, and once again dressed up for a night on the town.

Emma and Lara recapture that spirit every time they sashay down streets in their retro dresses, even their hairdos matching the period and you can see more on their website

Both were once blonde but now wear red curls that are reminiscent of “victory rolls” — huge curls that women wore piled on their heads or loosely framing their faces.  The friends look both gloriously modern and charmingly vintage.

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Another article From Us: Sheila the Elephant Survived WW2 by Being Taken Home by Her Keeper

Both fess up to wearing sweat pants on occasion when comfort outweighs glamour. Nonetheless, they deserve credit for helping the environment and looking gorgeous while doing it – that’s no small feat. Lead image credit: Simon Jacobs/Mercury Press