9 Charming Fads from the 1940s

We all know the fads we grew up with, but the fads from previous generations tend to fall away into the shadows of history. Fads from the ’40s were less publicized than in later decades and also the average family didn’t have much extra money to spend. Still, the term “teenager” was first coined in the ’40s and the disruptive nature of World War II meant that women and teens had more independence and were less supervised than ever before. Read on for 9 charming fads from the ’40s.

9) Painted Eyeglasses

For a short time it was popular for teenaged girls to paint the rims of their eye glasses with red nail polish.

8) Zoot Suits for Young Men

Before the Zoot Suit Riots and the outlaw of excessive fabric consumption, zoot suits were gaining popularity with young men who wanted to stand out from the crowd.

Victory Rolls

While this hairstyle was short-lived following World War II, the victory roll remains one of the most iconic looks from the ’40s.

6) Peashooters for Kids

Blowguns have been used for centuries, but it was during the ’40s that the concept became popular as a children’s toy. Instead of darts or clay ammunition, peas were the ammo of choice. Peashooters were simple toys, but they brought so much entertainment.

5) Radio Dramas

In the ’30s and ’40s radio dramas were prime time entertainment for the whole family. It’s no wonder that radios were given pride of place in the home!

4) Kilroy Was Here

There are a few variations of how this graffiti came to be. One story places British troops at the center of the phenomenon with their Mr. Chad graffiti. Another has a Mr. Kilroy marking his inspection jobs with “Kilroy was here” in a foundry which manufactured ships hulls for the military. Either way, the scrawl became a familiar one all across Europe and the U.S. during the ’40s.


Via/ Flickr


Via/ Flickr

3) Unpainted Half Moon & Tip Manicures

This trend began in the ’30s and continued into the ’40s. Some have speculated that the manicure in which one swipes off the tips and avoids the half moon part of the nail was begun because nail polish was initially seen as a way for women to hide the dirt that might have been lurking under their nails. In the ’40s with women working in factories, the notion of a manicure that was hard to chip was appealing to many. By the end of the decade, full almond-shaped nails in red or pink were becoming the norm, publicized in the many color ads which now ran through popular ladies magazines.


Via/ Flickr

2) Shoulder Pads & Puff Sleeves

Following the trend in menswear and reusing old suits for ladies’ wear, shoulder pads and puff sleeves were the look of the ’40s.


Via/ Flickr

1) Big Apple Swing Dance Circles

The roots of swing dance go back to the ’30s, but in the ’40s it became dominant dance for young people. Herbert “Whitey” White headed a group that performed at the famous Savoy Club and regularly appeared in the movies. The Big Apple gave everyone a chance to strut their stuff. You can see them in action in the video below.

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