Modern Vintage Career Day: 1940s & 1950s

In preparation for Modern Vintage Shop & Social: Career Day Edition on October 18, I’m prepping ready-for-work ensembles that will make you feel good…and maybe “wow” your colleagues.

So I trolled the Internet for some inspiration! Check out these scenes from the 40s and 50s:

Women working 1937-40

These women are working in an office sometime between 1937 and 1940, according to the Library of Congress. Note the high necklines and prim-and-proper styling.

Defense worker, 1942

Women went to work in droves when World War II started, and they weren’t just doing desk jobs. Women were common on the assembly line, where they filled in for men who were overseas with the military. Working on the assembly line meant one very important thing: You probably got to wear pants. Photo from the Library of Congress.

Defense workers 1943

The do’s and don’ts of dressing for your defense job during the war!

You deserve to read the full description of this photo, as provided by the Library of Congress:

Safe clothes for women workers. Illustrating what the well-dressed women in search of a war job should NOT wear, pretty Eunice Kimball, Bendix Aviation worker, pauses at the entrance to the plant employment office where potential workers are interviewed. Though clothes may not make the woman, they ARE an indication of qualifications for a job, and Eunice’s sweater, high-heeled and open-toed slippers, jewelry and loose hair-do are not improving her chances of employment. To contrast the inappropriateness of her costume, note trimly-dressed Alice Tripp, Bendix guard. Bendix Aviation Plant, Brooklyn, New York

Eunice I CANNOT BELIEVE you wore those SLIPPERS to your job interview. Did you know, one day right out of college I wore my slippers to work. That’s a mistake you don’t make twice.

Women working at a computer in the 1950s

After the war, some women continued to work. The women shown here are working at a computer in the 1950s, if you can believe it. How far we’ve come! And look how short those sleeves are. Shoulders, I see you there! (I’d imagine that computer mainframe just radiated heat.) Those are some sassy shoes, too. Photo via

The Best of Everything, 1959

Here’s your cool movie reference, thanks to the Cinema Station blog. This is a still from 1959’s The Best of Everything. Check out the slim skirt on the leading lady, along with all the v-neck dresses (some daring, some demure) on the left.

Here’s a brief synopsis of the movie, from Cinema Station: It is the story of three attractive and innocently sexy young women who go to Manhattan in search of romance, adventure and a career that will sustain them until they fall in love and get married.

That’s all for now! Maybe next time I’ll treat you to some photos in color.


Filed under Vintage

2 responses to “Modern Vintage Career Day: 1940s & 1950s

  1. Pingback: Modern Vintage Career Day: 1960s & 1970s | Quarter Life

  2. Pingback: Modern Vintage Career Day: 1980s | Quarter Life

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