1940's Civilian Reenactors

Women and men portraying civilians and those representing Axis and Allied forces of Western Europe in 1944 are invited to attend the event. ETO, Home Front, British, French, German and Partisan impressions and displays are welcome and encouraged. All persons attending the event should be acquainted with the general authenticity regulations as they apply equally to all event participants. The following are supplemental guidelines for female reenactors attending the event. Note: the material contained on these pages is not inclusive. All female impressions are accepted and encouraged.

General Guidelines for Civilian Male Reenactors

The military wasn’t for everyone and in WWII only 12 percent of the American population (including women) qualified for service in the Armed forces. This means the other 88 % of the population were deferred from serving. It’s estimated that in 1942 only 1 out of every 5 males between the ages of 18 and 38 were rated as fit for military service. Deferment ratings were for the following reasons:

2A: deferred for critical civilian work – including farmers.

3A: deferred due to dependents.

4A: already served in the armed forces or too old.

4B: deferred by law, i. e. draft officials.

4C: enemy alien, i. e.: Japanese-American citizens.

4D: ministers.

4E: conscientious objectors.

4F: physically, mentally or morally unfit for service.

Civilian men still answered the call to serve their country through filling the gaps of labor shortages for production; taking on farm work to fill vitally needed food rations for troops and victims of war torn countries and much more.


1. Dress and grooming standards should be consistent with 1940’s European and North American standards.

A. Hair must be cut and styled consistent with practices of the 1940s for example no long hair, pony tails and man buns. Shorter tapered and shaved hair was fashionable with longer but well-groomed layers on top. Facial hair was also very well groomed and not wild and bushy. No modern hair colors are permitted (e.g. blue, green, extreme frosting and tints).

B. No body piercings and modifications nail polish or make up.

C. Jewelry should be simple and in period style. Avoid silicone items such as watch bands, rings and bracelets. Men’s jewelry of the time included leather and metal bandings on watches, pocket watches and chains, metal banded rings in gold and silver tones. Other jewelry items worn by men in the 1940s included gold and silver tone chain style necklaces with religious or sentimental tokens on them, chain style ID bracelets, signet rings, fraternity pins, tie bars, cuff links, war worker ID badges and even patriotic pins that show support for the war effort or family members in service.


A. Zoot suits were not mainstream fashion, especially for Caucasian men.

B. Workwear looks – consisted of wide legged jeans, overalls, coveralls and chinos with sturdy boots and shoes

C. Day attire can be simple well-tailored trousers and pressed button up shirts. Vest and jackets or full suits and ties. Ties in the 40s were wide and shorter in length than modern ties and should hit at the sternum not drape on the belly. Trousers tended to be higher waisted, fuller cut legs with or without cuffs and worn with belts or suspenders held in place with buttons. Metal clip suspenders are not period correct.
Men's Workwear Fashions from 1940

1940s Men's Casual Wear - note that waist lines hit at or above the belly button and ties rest on the sternum above the belly button

1943 Men's single and double breasted suit styles - note the boxy cut and full shoulders

D. Clothing should be of natural fibers such as cotton, wool, seersucker and linen. Avoid cheap modern blended materials with polyester.

E. Clothing should be appropriate to the wearers’ age, occupation, nationality and social status they are portraying.

F. Fedora hats were popular. Most modern fedoras are not the same as 1940s styles. Trilby and pork pie caps are not war time fashions. Fedoras have wider brims and variable crown heights. Also popular are newsboy style caps more often called flat caps with wider tops usually made of 6 to 8 panels that flop over the brim in wool and denim; unlike modern style caps that are contoured to lay flatter and give a slimmer appearance. Flat caps are associated with the working class man and were popular from the 1920s – 1940s.

Examples of Men's dress and flat caps on working class men.

1943 Men's hats.

G. Footwear – oxfords, loafers, wing tips and simple boots were all in fashion from lace ups, monk straps to slip-ons men’s shoes were simplistic and practical. Popular colors were black, brown and Cordovan or russet. Spectator or two tone shoes were also popular for summer wear as they were combinations of white and brown or black. Toe box shapes were rounded or a graduated point, box style toe boxes on footwear were not as popular in the 40s.

F. Etiquette and Behavior – While we strive to achieve vintage authenticity let’s not emulate some of the less than favorable vintage values that don’t translate well in today’s modern world. Be kind. Be courteous. Refrain from vulgarities and profanity. Treat everyone with respect and dignity. No wolf whistles or wild flirtations as they can be misunderstood by today’s community.

Resources for Men's Civilian Attire

A. Web sites

D-Day Conneaut Allied Civilian Face book Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/1557785461130647/

Gentleman’s Gazette – This site has all sorts of history based articles and videos from grooming to dress. You’ll be able to see the history of menswear as well as get guidance on looking dapper in today’s world. https://www.gentlemansgazette.com

Vintage Dancer – A lovely blog by a historic fashion costumer and avid dancer. Her specialty if highlighting modern clothing and accessories that work for historical costuming needs. https://vintagedancer.com

Wishbook.Web – this is a virtual library of vintage Christmas catalogs from Sears, Montgomery Wards and Spiegel. It’s a great resource for getting a view of fashions and household items of the eras. http://www.wishbookweb.com/the-catalogs/

B: Books

Everyday Fashions of the Forties as Pictured in Sears Catalogs

Men's Fashion: The Complete Sourcebook by John Peacock (1996-12-23)

1940's Style Guide: The Complete Illustrated Guide to 1940's Fashion for Men and Women

C. Sewing Pattern Companies with Reproduction 1940s Menswear Patterns

Eva Dress Patterns

New Vintage Lady

There are also several other companies like Folkwear Patterns, Simplicity and Buterick that occasionally feature reproduction vintage men’s patterns of the era

General Guidelines for Civilian Women Reenactors

1. Dress and grooming should be consistent with 1944 Europe and North American standards.

a. Hair must be cut and styled consistent with the practices of the 1940s.

i. Modern hair color is not permitted (e.g. blue or pink) and modern hairstyles should be covered or altered to appear "vintage"

b. Women's makeup, including fingernail polish if worn) should be consistent with 1940's practices. As the use of makeup differed by nationality, women portraying civilians and military roles should ensure makeup is used appropriately and is consistent with products available during war-time

ii. Civilian make up should be limited based upon impression

iii. No makeup or nail polish should be worn by the following:

French Female Maquis members
French farm/village females
French civilian reenactors who will be present in or around the Maquis camp or the French farm building.

2. Clothing styles and ensembles should be appropriate to the wearer's impression. This includes jewelry (watches, rings and necklaces), and accessories such as hats, eyeglasses, shoes, hosiery and handbags

3. Tattoos must be completely covered at all times while in uniform or 1940s dress. The use of makeup on exposed tattoos is highly encouraged. Alternatively, opaque hose and/or long sleeves can be used to cover tattoos

4. Military courtesy will be in effect in the camp. Non-military participants should use 1940's "manners" during public hours

5. All tools, drinking vessels, utensils and other common items should date to 1944 or before

Allied Civilian Participants

1. Civilian clothing should be appropriate to the wearers' age, occupation, nationality, and social strata.

a. Clothing should be made of fabric available during war-time rationing. Cotton and rayon were encouraged due to Order L-85 (America) and Utility Apparel Order (United Kingdom). Nylon, rubber, silk, leather, and wool were reserved exclusively for combat and combat support purposes and were thus difficult to access for civilian garment production.

b. Clothing should The war-time clothing regulations produced a slim female silhouette with nipped in waists and narrow skirts with Vogue describing the look as "sharp, cold, and even bold"

  Timeline of Women's fashions from 1935-1949 to illustrate fashion silhouettes worn through 1944 as well as incorrect styles to avoid. Click to enlarge  

c. According to the War Production Board, there was need for 15% less fabric used in war-time clothing styles than pre-war standards. Prohibited during war-time standards: pleats, ruffles, patch pockets, attached hoods and shawls, full sleeves or skirts. Hems could be no wider than 2 inches and garments can have no more than one pocket

  Women's utility dresses May 14, 1942. Dresses are designed to avoid dullness   Examples of women's utility suits.  

d. Regulations, according to the War Production Board for women's clothing, were as follows:

•   Straight Coats: 44" in length, 64" sweep of hem
•   Fitted Coats: 45" in length, 64" sweep of hem
•   Jackets: Maximum length 28"
•   Slacks or pants: Maximum length 45", bottom width 14 ½"
•   Suits: i. Skirt: Length 28 ¾" -30", Sweep according to fabric 65"-88"
              ii. Jacket: Length 23 ½"-28"
•   Blouses: Sleeve width limited to 14", Length from neck to hem 22", Only one patch pocket (Prohibited Styles: Dolman, balloon, and leg o"™mutton)
•   Culottes or Skirt: Length 28 ¾" "“30", Sweep of hem 66"-97" (Prohibited Styles: All around pleated skirts)
•   Daytime Dresses: Maximum length 45", Sweep of hem 74" (Prohibited Styles: Tunics)
•   Evening Dresses: Maximum basic length 59", Sweep of hem for all non-transparent fabric 144"
•   Evening Jackets: Shall not exceed 25" from neck to hem, Hem limited to 1 ½"
•   Evening Skirts: Length 45", Sweep of hem 144"

  Examples of women's hats Left to right: 1942 Canadian pink straw doll hat, American "V" for victory rhinestone trimmed wool turban c. 1945  

e. Accessories should reflect the time period

•   Belts are narrow and should not exceed 2" in width
•   Nude stockings (denier nylon, mercerized cotton, cotton lisle, or silk), if worn, have a matching in color, seam up the back of the leg. Socks with bare legs are acceptable- to be worn with flat shoes
•   Shoes are rounded toe and, if high heeled, would have a sturdy heel (stilettos are incorrect). Popular shoes of the time were Penny Loafers, Wedgies, Oxfords, and Spectator Pumps
•   Gloves were most commonly worn by women who left the house to go into public. The rule with glove selection was: the shorter the sleeve, the longer the glove
•   Hats were also generally worn in public unless the attire is a sporting outfit. Common styles of the time were: Felt fedoras, Picture hats, Peter Pan, Turbans, Fascinators, Pancake hats, and Doll hats

  Examples of women's shoe advertisements. Note: the thick heels and rounded toes.  

f. Prior to World War 2, when a man purchased a suit, it came with a jacket, a vest, and two pairs of pants. The wartime "Victory Suit" eliminated the vest and second pair of pants. Men's suits were single-breasted, had narrow lapels, no cuffs, and no pocket flaps. Wartime necessity allowed men to wear mismatched jackets and trousers.

g. Additional references for civilian impressions

•   Flashbak: The CC41 "˜Pac-Man"™ Utility Label in Wartime Britain (http://flashbak.com/the-cc41-pac-man-utility-label-in-wartime-britain-20207/)
•   Blueprints of Fashion: Home Sewing Patterns of the 1940s by Wade Laboissonniere 2009, Schiffer Publishing)
•   Vintage Fashion Guild: Dating Vintage Clothing (http://vintagefashionguild.org/tips-tricks/)
•   Blitzkrieg Baby- For fashion and reenacting help: (http://www.blizkriegbaby.de/homepage.htm)
•   Early 1940's Fashionable Clothing from the Sears Catalogs with Price Guide. Atglen: Schiffer Publishing, Ltd., 2002 Print
•   D-Day Conneaut Allied Civilians Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/groups/1557785461130647/)

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French Women

•   Make do and mend - repaired and even stained garments would fit in well If you're taking part in the battles/scenarios make sure you wear something you don't mind getting torn or dirty

Dresses & Skirts

Polka dots, checkered square as well as flowers with big, small and tangled designs were common patterns for dresses Length is just below or right at the knee.

•   Wartime dresses and skirts have less fabric due to rationing, so no poofy skirts as they are postwar. A classic A-line skirt is the best way to go
•   Cotton is material of choice since it's cooler, but wool and rayon and were also common
•   No polyester or polyester blends. Stay away from elastic as most won't have the proper look
•   Leather or cloth-covered belts were common on period dresses and pants, but not essential
•   Closures (zippers, snaps or hooks and eyes) for dresses and skirts should always be metal and on the left side of the garment. Short neck zippers are correct. Most full back zippers are post war

Clothing Appropriate for City Dwellers
Clothing Appropriate for Female Marquis & Farm/Village Women

A person in a white shirtBlouses

Blouses must be made only of natural fabric-cotton, wool, rayon or linen. No polyester or polyester blends. No elastic. Collared blouses were typical and often buttoned all the way up and paired with a three- quarter length or long-sleeved knit sweater, also only of natural fabric. Shoulders were sometimes made to look more prominent with shoulder pads (cotton only). No modern style blouses.

A picture containing clothing, person, fashion, pattern (fashion design)Pants

No pants for city dwellers and farm/village women as they were not common. Pants are acceptable for female Maquisards, although not preferable since they were less common. They must be high, flat-waisted, full-legged pants made of natural fabrics only-cotton, wool, rayon or linen. No polyester or polyester blends. No elastic. Closures (zippers, snaps or hooks and eyes) must be metal and on the left side of the garment. Shorts, which were less common than pants, have the same requirements.


Maquis camp: a 100% wool Basque beret is the common hat of choice usually in black, brown or dark blue.
Farm/village women: No hats, basque berets as listed above or period correct work hats (research original photographs) are acceptable. City women: Period correct hats appropriate for WWII France (research original photographs).


Braids, snoods and buns are all easy options. No straight hair or ponytails. Research original photographs for correct styles.


City dwellers-make up/nail polish should be used appropriately and be consistent with products available during war-time France.
NO makeup or nail polish should be worn by the following:
    French Female Maquis members
    French farm/village females
    French civilian reenactors who will be present in or around the Maquis camp or the French farm building

Jewelry and Eyewear

Period correct jewelry and eyewear only. Wedding bands should be thin. Maquisards and farm/village women should wear little jewelry (e.g. wedding band, watch) or no jewelry. Other civilian women should wear what would be appropriate for wartime France.


If you're taking part in the battles/scenarios as an armed combatant, then you are seen as a Maquis member and not part of the farm village. Therefore, it's very important that your color choices be limited to those that will blend in with the surroundings, i.e. browns, grays, blacks, and not loud, showy colors. As Maquis you would be hiding in the woods and doing your best to not attract attention.


100% Cotton or 100% wool socks and flat leather shoes (or shoes with a minimal heel) or leather boots to allow ease of movement. Please see pictures here and in “Allied Civilian Participants” for the correct style of footwear. No modern-looking soles. Female maquisards and farm/village women should wear either 100% cotton or 100% wool ankle socks or be bare-legged. Female civilians portraying city dwellers can choose the above or wear appropriate seamed hosiery (see Allied Civilian guidelines).