First impressions matter.
Seeing as there’s no two ways around that fact, you have to make sure your guests are transported to the glamour of the late 1940s as soon as they step foot into your home/rented venue. That means the decor has to be just right and that you have make a decent effort with what you’re wearing as well.
Okay, so you’re not going to be hiring professional set decorators to gussy up your living room to resemble a 1940s night club. That’s fine: with a few small touches, you’ll be able to lend any room an appropriate period vibe that will impress even the most brazen of party guests.
Post-war America was in a period of transition in terms of architecture. As they moved into the back end of the Art Deco phase, the ornate Egyptian-inspired designs gave way to simpler lines and smoother edges.
Using nightclub scenes from Gangster Squad as a model:
1. Purchase or borrow some light velvety drapes to punch up your walls:
2. Placing table lamps on the floor near the corners of your room should do the trick: There’s nothing that will kill a room’s vibe more than having all the light coming straight down from the ceiling so try to keep all your illumination sources close to the ground. Lighting the room from the floor up will create some interesting textures on the wall and give the place a sexier glow.
3. Some interesting table cloths and a couple of vintage-style table lamps will also go a long way:
As always, men’s period attire is simple to pull off, though not necessarily cheap.
Post-war America saw fellas erring on the side of flamboyant. This was, after all, the period that made the Zoot Suit popular. But please, let’s try to keep this affair classy and make sure you don’t look like a comic-book pimp.
As a trend, double-breasted suits were back in fashion in the late 40s but if you’re looking for something with a slimmer fit, a single-breasted grey, black or brown jacket with wide lapels should do the trick. Pair this with high-waisted trousers and fedora, and you’ve got the basis of a decent 40s get-up.
Bonus points will be awarded for wing-tipped shoes.
Finish the effect by slicking back your hair with some sort of pomade: Brylcreem will do. That is unless you’re a Dapper Dan man.
Clothes: Ladies’ Finery
The gals were always going to have a tougher time with the attire. There’s a fine line to be drawn between a great 40s-inspired look and a lazy Halloween costume.
Let’s get this out of the way though: there’s very little way you’re going to throw together an authentic 40s cocktail apparel without breaking the bank or buying some unwanted moldy dress from a vintage store. But here are a few tips that will help you put together a ensemble that will drive the other girls green with envy.
While Christian Dior’s 1947 New Look collection started a fashion fire that would eventually spread across the world, we’re talking about Hollywood in 1948: a place that marched by the beat of its own drum. Take a look at the most popular film stars of the day: style icons like Marlene Dietrich, Judy Garland and Lauren Bacall all set standards for women up and down America’s West Coast.
Post-war America also saw luxury come back into fashion, so don’t be afraid to utilise more sumptuous, satiny fabrics. Low-cut bodices were also en vogue, accentuated by a trend towards dresses that were pinched at the waist — so consider wearing a corset. But if you do, bear in mind there won’t be much leeway for you to enjoy all that gourmet 40s food you will have prepared.
And as for the hair, you shouldn’t have much trouble finding tutorials on YouTube that will show you how to achieve the wavy look of the 1940s most glamorous movie stars. Failing that, just go to your nearest hairdresser and point them to this picture of Rita Hayworth on your smartphone.
Come back tomorrow, when we’ll be dishing out the dirt on Cocktail Food of the late 1940s!
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