Fashion History: Dior’s New Look

After writing my post about the Utility Clothing Scheme, I thought I’d write about the next thing chronologically that shifted fashion: Dior’s New Look. Launched in 1947, the ‘New Look’ was a compete departure from the austerity and seriousness of the wartime fashions. Dior wanted to give women back “their taste for light-heartedness, the art of seduction”. source

The main features of the collection were tiny waists and very full skirts, with padding on the ships, to created an illusion of an even tinier waste. Each skirt used up to 20 yards of fabric, which was completely opposite to the restrictions under rationing where turn-ups were banned and pleats were limited. Dior also moved towards rounded shoulders, in contrast to the military-influenced square shoulders of the earlier 40s.

The suit that epitomised the New Look was the Bar suit.

New Look 1(source)

For those that couldn’t afford to buy the couture but wanted to emulate the New Look, the only option was to sew the look yourself. There were no official sewing patterns released, as far as I can tell, though by the 50s, the silhouette was being adopted more and more so patterns from that era would give you a close approximation of the originals. When doing research for this post, I came across Inside Christian Dior’s New Look on the Vintage Connection.

New Look 6(source)

The extreme shape was formed by both corsets on the top half and padding under the skirt on the bottom half. “Dior’s own corset (famous for taking inches of the waist) was named “the waspie;” this new version of the Victorian corset was five or six inches deep, made of rigid fabric with elastic inserts, and contained boning and back-lacing. Generally, all corsets of the era were described by fashion magazines as “super-light weight” and were advertised as containing feather boning. In addition to the use of corsets, Dior frequently lined the waists of his skirts and dresses with feather boning. For women who could only afford to buy the mass-produced version of The New Look, Vogue suggested the use of a “waist-liner,” which was a strip of muslin or seam binding with boning sewn into it, which Vogue said gave “a thin strip of indentation about [the] waist, and could be sewn into each…dress…””source

New Look evening dress(source)

Most New Look petticoats were made of stuff nylon, taffeta, or horsehair net. Most often they had a fitted hip yolk leading to several smooth layers of netting that ended with a few ruffles. In order to avoid snags in nylon stockings, Dior ingeniously softened the bottom ruffles of his petticoats with eyelet. If Dior’s skirts and dresses were not full, they were nearly skin-tight. New Look jackets, tightly fitted to the figure, were lined with acetate and muslin to help stiffen and support the outer fashion fabric. Dior’s right, long skirts were given strong linings in order to ward off “seating.” source

New Look 3(source)

Now I’ll leave you with some of my favourite outfits…..

New Look 2(source)

New Look 4(source)


New Look 5(source)


New Look 7(source)

Although I think I’m more drawn to 60s fashions in general, there is something about these looks which are so glamourous! I slightly wish people still dressed like this, though I can’t imagine they were particularly practical! I’m not sure wearing a corset every day would be super fun, but maybe I’ll have a go at recreating one of these looks one day.

You could use Gertie’s Butterick 5962 to make the Bar suit:


B5962 Butterick by Gertie

Would you copy a historical fashion to wear now and not as a costume? If so, which one please?

3 thoughts on “Fashion History: Dior’s New Look

  1. theblondevibes

    These outfits were so classy and feminine.. I wish women were so girly nowadays.
    Anyway, If I had to choose an era of fashion I’d definitely choose the 70’s. Long skirts, palazzo pants and high heels with supervolume in your hair, heavy makeup, all sparkling: ready for the saturday night fever!


  2. Pingback: Book: Vintage Fashion – Thrift Make Sew

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