Style Me Vintage 1940s is a broad (if not deep) survey of the look and feel of the era. Many photographs and advertisements are used as well as personal historical images from the author. Although not comprehensive, the British-oriented book does go into American and Parisian styles as well. An appendix gives locations and resources for tracking down vintage clothing and items.
The book breaks down as follows: Make up, Hair, Wartime Fashion, Post War Fashion, It’s All In The Detail, Lingerie and Swimwear, Weddings, Researching the 1940s, Top Tips, Shopping. The Shopping section includes stores that sell originals, rentals, reproductions, jewellery, and shoes.
The book is very clean, with more graphics than text. In addition to the style tips, a bit of history helps to understand the foundation of the 1940s – from austerity and L-85 rationing, scarcity of metals for things like paper clips, even the regulatory limitations on how long a hem could be or how many pockets on a dress. As well, everything from knits to hats, military uniforms, how to spot vintage items, is covered in brief.
The how-to sections are short but do include step by step photos (if not very robust text descriptions). E.g., there are only three types of hair styles (rolls, braids, waves) but we get images throughout the process of creating them. For the make up tutorials, the only clue you’ll get on what to do on eyes is that “more coloured eyeshadows were used in the late 40s, especially blues, greys and greens”. We don’t get any information on how to apply, just a finished image. I’d have loved to know which products, by brand names, were used here and the technique of applying which color where.
So while the book definitely covers the breadth of the 1940s, I did some how feel that it was a shallow approach. Just enough to get you started but ultimately not necessarily enough to complete the look. As a portrait photographer, I tried the directions on one of my models was only marginally achieved the look. Perhaps if the author had worked with novices and seen how it can go wrong or listened to questions they asked while using the book, she could have added much needed information.
In all, despite the light approach of the topic, I did enjoy the book. it is a quick 30 minute read with many images. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.