Skip to main content

Have Your Own 1940s Burlesque Style Photo Shoot for Men and Women

  • Author:
  • Updated date:
Essential 1940's wardrobe items.. hat, fur, and gloves

Essential 1940's wardrobe items.. hat, fur, and gloves

Pin up girl look of 1940s with the "victory roll" hairstyle

Pin up girl look of 1940s with the "victory roll" hairstyle

Shrugs are a great vintage 1940's item

Shrugs are a great vintage 1940's item

The hot "Nurse" look was popular in the 1940s at the onset of WWII

The hot "Nurse" look was popular in the 1940s at the onset of WWII

A Guide to Vintage Style

If you are looking to experiment with vintage clothing, celebrate the femininity of classic styles, or create photos that are unique and original, a 1940s photo shoot is a creative way to express yourself and makes for an outstanding party theme.

The 1940s in Fashion

While this era of history is considered to be one of the most glamorous, the style of clothing and hair were actually inspired by the Depression and necessity to be simple during WWII when women entered the workforce in record of numbers. Not only were Americans required to work long hours, textiles and other raw materials were scarce. Imports and exports were put on hold while countries in the world chose a side in the War.

1940s fashion seeks to draw attention to the shoulders of both men and women. Elbow length gloves were a hallmark for women while fedoras and suspenders were staples in men's wardrobes. Furs became popular early in the era.

Styles became less fashionable in 1942 when the onset of WWII caused a shortage of an already limited supply of nylon and polyester which were seized by the government to make uniforms and parachutes for US Soldiers. In these years, women began wearing pants due to shortages in fabric and because they were called to work in factories to produce war equipment. Popular magazines and pattern companies advised women on how to remake men's suits into smart outfits, since the men were in uniform and the cloth would otherwise sit unused.


One way women in the United States showed support for the victory of the war was to wear their hair in a "Victory Roll" as listed below. This hairstyle also enabled women to keep their hair out of their faces while they were working in the factories.

Make Up

Make up styles in the 1940s varied greatly from the styles of today. In this era, woman were very natural and did not go to tanning beds. Make up was light, soft, and natural. There was no "smokey eye" or heavy eyeliner.

To achieve the 1940s look in makeup, start with a light foundation to the entire face. Dust your foundation with a light powder foundation with pink undertones to keep the natural tones. Instead of highlighting eye lids, ladies of the 1940s accentuated their eyebrows with a powder matching their natural color and accented arches. Sheer, light colored eye shadow was used instead of today's dark colors. Great emphasis should be placed on eyelashes- making them long, black, and lustrous. If you have sparse lashes, falsies will give you a great 1940s look. Rose colored blush should be used on the apples of cheeks and blended to avoid creases. Last, lips should look glamorous and soft. Lip liner in a red, burgundy, or crimson should be applied heavily to the top lip followed by a thick, luscious lipstick in the same color.


Jewelry was not a highlight of the fashion of the 1940s. Fresh out of the Great Depression and jumping straight into WWII, jewelry making in the US practically stopped. The most popular jewelry of the time were "Sweetheart" necklaces in which a woman wore one half and her lover off to war wore the other half.


Because the subject of the photo should be the focus, backgrounds should be minimal and not distracting or competitive with the model. Simple matte backgrounds are perfect. If you are taking photos indoors, consider having your subject lay on a couch in an "S" position. Plain furs and adornments should be used. If shooting photos outside, consider your surroundings. You will not want to include ultra modern buildings or implements in a 1940s photo shoot.

Popular 1940s settings would include a Hollywood Red Carpet, a movie set, a military ship depot, or cars from the time period.

How to Create the Victory Roll Hairstyle

Scroll to Continue

A Look Into a Real 1940s Photo Shoot

Men's Style in the 1940s

In this era, there were no jeans, sweat pants, knitted sweaters, or sneakers. The clothes made the man and every man wore a suit with wide legged trousers. Jackets could either be double or single breasted, although double is more stereotypical of the 40′s. Men's jackets were padded in the shoulders to give men the appearance of stature. Facial hair of any kind was not popular. Men took pride in great shoes and it was typical to wear highly polished oxfords daily.

If dressing for a photoshoot, consider a stylish fedora. Not only does it give off vibes of the era, it gives any fellow the distinguished look of maturity.

Men's Style in the 1940's

Men's style with suspenders

Men's style with suspenders

Stilleto City on how to create Burlesque Styles

A Guide to Vintage Shopping

Vintage clothing items aren't hard to find, but you must know where to look. EBay offers a great deal of great vintage items. There are many "specialty shops" on the net that offer fabulous items with a money back guarantee. Here are a few highly rated sights:

Vintage Jewelry

Gifts for Soldiers

If you are the wife or girlfriend or a man stationed away from home.. God Bless You!! Pin up style photos with an 1940s feel is patriotic and sexy. Photos would be a wonderful surprise for your military solider!


Tammy (author) from North Carolina on July 17, 2012:

Thanks so much Kimberly Lake! This is a really fun way to spend a day. :)

Kimberly Lake from California on July 17, 2012:

I love this hub, very fun idea and great tips. Thanks for Sharing.

Tammy (author) from North Carolina on July 13, 2012:

Hi Billybuc,

You and Bev could get photos made in 1940s outfits. That would be lots of fun and you'd have great photos for your hubs! Thank you for the compliment. I would LOVE to plan your event when you hit the best seller list. :)

Tammy (author) from North Carolina on July 13, 2012:

Thanks for your kind words Suzie HQ. I love this era and the makeup and clothing. I have always wanted to be a make up artist. Thanks so much for reading and sharing!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on July 12, 2012:

I would look so good in a double-breasted suit like that one....and a fedora.....gotta have the fedora!

Fun hub! You are a woman of many talents and interests. If I ever have a major party to celebrate my best seller I'm flying you out to organize the party.

Suzanne Ridgeway from Dublin, Ireland on July 12, 2012:

Hi tammyswallow! What a great hub on one of the most interesting era's, the 1940s. As a Make-Up Artist I love the 1940s look combined with the hair, style and love burlesque! Thanks tammy for sharing this captivating article with great tips, ideas and photos for achieving the look. Voted and will be sharing with my followers:)

Tammy (author) from North Carolina on June 30, 2012:

Thanks Mama Kim 8. This would be a great party! You could make some 1940s cocktails and play some Perry Como. I hope you have a great time!

Aloe Kim on June 30, 2012:

This sounds so fun! I'll be revisiting this hub when my best friends comes for a visit!! I just know she'll adore this as well.

Tammy (author) from North Carolina on June 01, 2012:

Thanks MargaritaEden! :)

MargaritaEden from Oregon on May 31, 2012:

Very interesting idea and wonderful tips to accomplish it!

Tammy (author) from North Carolina on May 29, 2012:

Thanks Lady Fiddler. I like these looks too. So classy!

Tammy (author) from North Carolina on May 29, 2012:

Thanks for stopping by singhrakeshs!

Tammy (author) from North Carolina on May 29, 2012:

Thanks jainisumus! :)

Joanna Chandler from On Planet Earth on May 29, 2012:

Love your first photo wonderful look :) Those kind of hats are gorgeous :)

singhrakeshs from Gurgaon, India on May 28, 2012:

Great hub!! I love this hub. She is looking so beautiful in his all picture those you have shared.. Thanks for sharing

Voting this Up and Awesome.

Mahaveer Sanglikar from Pune, India on May 28, 2012:

Great photographs in great styles.

Tammy (author) from North Carolina on May 01, 2012:

Thanks for visiting this hub John Sarkis. This is a very true observation. I appreciate the comment and vote up.

John Sarkis from Winter Haven, FL on May 01, 2012:

Great hub Tammy. It just dawned on me that people spend a great deal of time discussing what look men find appealing in women, but you rarely ever hear what look women find appealing in men.

Nice hubs. I like the nurse look, speaking from a male point of view.

Take care and voted up on your interesting article.


Tammy (author) from North Carolina on February 29, 2012:

Thank you Duchess!

Duchess OBlunt on February 29, 2012:

she most definitely is beautiful!

Tammy (author) from North Carolina on February 26, 2012:

Thanks for reading and commenting Marcy. Women had a different beauty back then. I love catching a good old film. I appreciate you stopping by and commenting.

Marcy Goodfleisch from Planet Earth on February 25, 2012:

I love the look of this era - but then, I'm a vintage film buff! Great hub, Tammy, and very well written. I love the details about make-up and jewelry. Now, if only I can find a photographer near me who can do this! Thanks for the fun read!

Tammy (author) from North Carolina on February 25, 2012:

Thanks Duchess OBlunt,

These photos are not mine. My daughter in law is my model and she is shy and to beautiful for comments. :)

Duchess OBlunt on February 25, 2012:

This is awesome! What a terrific idea and very informative. Tell me, are the pictures yours?

Tammy (author) from North Carolina on February 20, 2012:

Thanks Millionaire Tips! It is a blast. That would be an awesome party. Everyone could bring their makeup and vintage dress up clothing.. have a little wine.. Much fun to be had! Thanks so much for reading!

Shasta Matova from USA on February 20, 2012:

This looks like a lot of fun, dressing up in vintage clothes for a photograph shoot. Sounds like a great party idea as well. Voted up.

Tammy (author) from North Carolina on February 16, 2012:

Thanks Flora. I love this era too. What a unique experience! That must have been fun! Thanks for sharing that!

FloraBreenRobison on February 15, 2012:

I love Vintage fashion and love 1940s films. I have been in a historical show through my cousin Ivan Sayers. I got to be a Bobby Soxer and wear a red dress from the 20s. It was fun!

Tammy (author) from North Carolina on February 07, 2012:

Thanks thoughtforce! That is one of my favorite time periods and definatley one of the most elegant.

Tammy (author) from North Carolina on February 07, 2012:

Thanks Jacy! You should give it a try!

Christina Lornemark from Sweden on February 07, 2012:

I love the idea of a 1940s photo, the elegant style, the music, the clothes- everything looks great! Voted up, shared and more!

jacy albertson from Sanford, fl on February 07, 2012:

What a unique and fun idea. Voted up & awesome.

Stacy Harris from Hemet, Ca on February 07, 2012:

This hub was definitely a blast. Last year right before Valentine's Day I found a meetup group that did Pin-up shots. For a day, I got the opportunity to wear vintage clothing and have my hair done vintage style. They even taught us the pin-up makeup. It was such a blast and this really gave me a lot more insight into that. If you ever get a chance to do a pin-up photo shot, I would definitely give it a shot. It is completely like going into a whole different world! :)

iamaudraleigh on February 07, 2012:

This looked so much fun...great idea/hub!

Daisy Mariposa from Orange County (Southern California) on February 07, 2012:

Tammy, this is a fantastic Hub! What a great job you did. The photos and video are terrific.

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on February 07, 2012:

One day I really have to try this! Your hub has me more tempted! You should receive a commission!:)

Sherri from Southeastern Pennsylvania on February 07, 2012:

Luscious and lovely Hub! My mother was a "war bride," married in 1943. I've always loved her elegant fashion from those years and am glad to see interest in the period continue to grow with articles as informative and engaging as yours. LOVE the Victory Roll video. So that's how they did it! Up and awesome.

K Kiss from Newcastle upon Tyne, UK on February 07, 2012:

One of my favourite era. You do inspire me tammyswallow. :)

Tammy (author) from North Carolina on December 23, 2011:

Thank you Diana.. She is stunning isn't she!

Diana Trees from Atlantic City on December 23, 2011:

I do so love the '40s look, especially the shot of Dita Von Teese. Nicely done!

Tammy (author) from North Carolina on December 19, 2011:

Thanks for reading Martie. A costume party would be fun too.. It would be a fun party. It is so glamourous yet so simple. I hope you try it!

Martie Coetser from South Africa on December 19, 2011:

Costume-parties are in fashion down here. So every occasion gets a theme and guests dress accordingly. I find the swing of Fashion from decade to decade interesting and amazing. I've bookmarked this one... perhaps it is time for me to organize a party...

All thumbs up for this hub.

Tammy (author) from North Carolina on December 16, 2011:

Thank you mason!

mason1966 from Louisville, ky on December 16, 2011:

Love this! Very creative.

Tammy (author) from North Carolina on December 14, 2011:

Hi Ms. Deborah. I am glad you enjoyed it. I think the beauty of the 1940s speaks volumes that less is so much more beautiful. Thank you for stopping by!

Deborah Brooks Langford from Brownsville,TX on December 14, 2011:

I really enjoyed watching the videos and looking at the hairdo's .. AND THE CLOTHES WOW..great HUB... I voted up and awesome...

Tammy (author) from North Carolina on December 14, 2011:

Thanks Kitty! My daughter in law got me started on this. She has all the hats, bolero fur coats.. She has a real tutu dress from the 1950s.. Everything about that era is just so natural and beautiful. I will take a look and see what I can link.. Thanks!

Kitty Fields from Summerland on December 14, 2011:

Voted up and awesome, Tammy! You've covered my absolute FAVORITE decade of fashion and style here. I have an obessession with the 40s (and 50s)! I've also written hubs on how to do vintage hairstyles and dress like a pin-up girl...but this hub is one of my favorites. Great writing and ideas!

Tammy (author) from North Carolina on December 13, 2011:

I am glad you enjoyed it Ardie.. I love the classiness. It is a fun girls night to get everyone together to take eachother's photos. I hope you will give it a try! Thank you for stopping by and leaving a wonderful comment.

Sondra from Neverland on December 13, 2011:

This was so much fun to see. I love the older styles where fashion and sexy mixed to create classy. And the hair and makeup - so sleek! Now Im inspired to try a 1940s photo shoot. I just need to find a model...

Tammy (author) from North Carolina on December 13, 2011:

Thank you CMerritt. This style seems to appeal a lot to the men because it is so classy. I like it because ladies don't need to look like tanned rawhide leather from a tanning Thank you for reading and stopping to comment!

Chris Merritt from Pendleton, Indiana on December 13, 2011:

I really like that pants hanging down past the butt-crack, and the ladies all look like ladies.

very cool.


Tammy (author) from North Carolina on December 13, 2011:

Thanks Pras.. it is so much fun and the guys get to have some great photos. A good time time for all. Thanks for stopping by!

prasetio30 from malang-indonesia on December 13, 2011: have done a great job, my friend. Very inspiring hub, especially for us who love photography. Thank you very much for share with us. Rated up!


Tammy (author) from North Carolina on December 12, 2011:

Hi Feenix,

There is just a certain class that all people had in the 40's that is so appealling. I bet your Mom was a classy lady. Sometimes I wish I couldv'e been born in that era.. Life was so much simpler! Good to see you as always.

feenix on December 12, 2011:

Hello, tammyswallow,

As you may have picked up with my "surprise video" of the Andrews Sisters, I really do like what could be described as the 1940s style.

I love the way people dressed back then, the music, the way the men and women conducted themselves, and I could go on.

Also, when I was a little boy in the early 1950s, I had a lot of exposure to the "1940's style" because my very beautiful mother was a "'40's Child."

Tammy (author) from North Carolina on December 12, 2011:

Thank you so much Eddy. I hope you have a great day too!

Eiddwen from Wales on December 12, 2011:

A great hub which I vote up and bookmark.

Take care and enjoy your day.


Tammy (author) from North Carolina on December 11, 2011:

Thank for reading brandasaur.. it is really fun to do. It is just a different kind of beautiful.

Hi alcosin.. thank you for your nice comments! It is a very unique creative idea that also makes for a good gift.

Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on December 11, 2011:

What a great way to spice up a photo. Voting this Up and Awesome.

brandasaur from Planet X on December 11, 2011:

This is nice Hub! Some parties out there are themed to be back in 1940s and up! This article will be very helpful Hub!

Tammy (author) from North Carolina on December 11, 2011:

Thanks Blair Tracy.. it is really fun.. they look really good when they are finished and you photoshop them to black and white or the antique look. I appreciate the comment!

Tracy B from Canada on December 10, 2011:

Oh! This looks fun! I should get a few friends together and try it out in the future. I also love the photo's in this hub.

Tammy (author) from North Carolina on December 10, 2011:

Thanks Audrey.. stay tuned.. I am going to do a hub on boudoir photography.. :)

Audrey Howitt from California on December 10, 2011:

What a fun and lovely idea!

Related Articles