How Hitler Influenced 1940s Fashion

Nazi Germany fashion

When you think of 1940s fashion, you probably think of tailored looks, tea dresses, victory rolls and red lipstick (even after makeup the had run out), but fashions were very different in Nazi Germany.

Hitler had a very specific idea of how women should look. He even created a German Fashion Board, the Deutsches Modeamt in an attempt to influence every aspect of how women looked and dressed. In contrast to other fashions in Europe and America, and in particular Paris, Hitler wanted German women to look natural and ‘healthy’ in contrast to stick-thin Parisienne models.  He hated everything artificial, from makeup, to hair-dye and perfume and didn’t approve of women wearing trousers (too manly) or fur (because he thought it was cruel to wear animal fur – a surprisingly liberal attitude for someone who perpetrated genocide…).

German women were encouraged to wear only clothes made by German designers from German-produced materials, with styles harking back to Germany’s traditional fashions, dirndl dresses, bodices and flowing skirts.  Having said this, many of the wives of influential Nazi officials still wore foreign fashions unlike the ones below (I don’t imagine many of them wore the delightful swastika-decorated dresses in the bottom picture, they were generally far too elegant!)

Above: Children being evacuated from Berlin waving Nazi flags.

1940s Germany Fashions

A German mother with her daughters and son in his Hitler Youth uniform.

Nazi Germany fashion

A model wearing a 1940s Dirndl-style dress

Nazi Germany fashion

Women wearing Dirndl costumes presenting flowers to Nazi officials

Nazi Germany fashion

Image source and copyright: 1, 3, 4, 5, This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Germany license.2, This file is in the public domain, because defunct government

10 thoughts on “How Hitler Influenced 1940s Fashion

  1. Missy

    There’s a pretty well known photo from the 20’s of Clara Bow wearing an outfit with a matching hat that sported Swastikas … It’s too bad that lovely, positive design will probably be a symbol of the worst kind of inhumanity for the rest of our history …

    • Mary, WHV

      Yes, I’ve seen that photo, she looks great it in, it’s unfortunate that there’s a huge swastika on the side of her hat. Was she wearing it before the Nazi party adopted it as a symbol do you know?

      • Missy

        That picture of Clara was taken in the late 20’s … Up until The Nazi Party adopted it, it was considered a good luck symbol and also a turning wheel of eternity … It’s been around for 1,000’s of years, all over the globe with many variations … You can google old birthday postcards with them on them … Even a US WWI Infantry Unit used it … The SW American Indians, particularly The Navajo had it on blankets and jewelry … I have an old silver bracelet with one on it … I saw some decorating a kitchen table set from the 20’s when I was researching something on microfiche years ago … And at the end of my street there were some metal ones adorning a concrete wall at least until the 90’s … Finally saw they’d cut off the ends and they’re just crosses now … As I said, it’s a shame that a madman took a beautiful symbol and turned into a twisted cross …

        • Anonymous

          ” it’s a shame that a madman took a beautiful symbol and turned into a twisted cross …”
          It wasn’t Hitler that made the Swastika a sign of evil. I could start a devil worshiping club with the Jewish Star of David as my symbol if I wanted, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s a Jewish symbol, my interpretation holds no importance.

          It’s only when people choose to believe that the meaning has changed that things change in meaning. If this generation wanted to, they could choose to believe that Nazi-Germany was not significant enough to change the meaning of a symbol that stood for luck for thousands of years.

          There are however groups of people who wish to perpetuate the symbol as a anti-semetic hate symbol for all eternity, as an eternal reminder that Germany wronged the Jews, so they can perpetuate the guilt for eternity.

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  4. Jutta

    The last picture actually depicts a costume. The two ladies sell stamps and postcards to raise money for the welfare. Till today the German postal service sometimes puts their employees into costumes to raise money for a cause.


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