What Were the Hottest Pop Culture Trends of the 40s?

From the 30’s Great Depression and several other crises, the ’40s greeted the humankind with World War II. The world history was then filled with bombing, pain, and distress as Germany invaded Poland. However, after the war, everyone focuses once again on extravagance and pop culture.

During this era, fashion had drastically changed, movies continued, and cars started to become luxuriously big. So, if you’re excited to know more about the 40s, read along and find out.


During the 1940s, Abstract Expressionism as an art movement was developed. Its concept comes from the explorations of turmoil and anxiety. Most of the expressions evoked in this kind of art were the result that came from horrors and pain endured during World War II.

Some of the images formed in this art showcased the characteristic of being anarchic, rebellious, and nihilistic. Although this art involved smearing, dripping, and slathering that eventually formed an unrecognizable subject, these types of art involved careful planning. In this movement, the arts were depicted as unrealistic and non-objective. As well as that, they emphasize freedom to evoke expressive qualities, personal emotions, and abandonment of conventionally structured compositions. Also, paintings in this movement fill large canvases, which give the art an engrossing power.

Some of the notable artists from this era were Arshile Gorky, Franz Kline, Hans Hofman, Mark Tobey, and Adolf Gottlieb.


Film reels

Like pretty much everything else in that era, 1940’s movies were dominated by war. During this time, the war had much effect on everyone psychologically since the advent of the Pearl Harbor incident in 1941. Moreover, most of the films have a shared sense of realism, mainly because of the war, as well as the emergence of American documentary films.

While everything was still quite chaotic, film technology such as special effects, sound recording, and cinematography had advanced. In fact, films like Citizen Canestarring Orson Welles had been known as the most influential and spectacular film of all time. This movie had featured several cinematic features like the chiaroscuro camerawork, unique camera angles, and expressionist distortions of images. Alongside that was the film Casablanca, starring Humphrey Bogart andIngrid Bergman. In this wartime romance,the lightings, as well as the music, were successfully executed. Consequently, because of this improvement in studio systems, movie-goers attending the cinema had boomed.


A library full of books

Aside from films, more literary pieces have emerged after the war. One of the first writers to emerge was Gore Vidal, who wrote the novel Williwaw in 1946. In this book, Vidal had narrated his experiences as a naval officer in the Aleutian Island.  Subsequently, Vidal had released his second book In a Yellow Wood, the following year. In addition to Vidal, more notable writers have also emerged from this era. Some of them were Agatha Christie, T.S. Elliot, Virginia Woolf, and Evelyn Waugh.

According to Malcolm Cowley, a literary historian, the years between the two wars were considered the second flowering. During this time, a new generation had come out of the war, a social character different from the previous one. Among the younger writers in this era were the children of immigrants, Jews, and Africans who explored their experiences through writings and arts.


1940s fashion

1940s fashion was mixed with glamor and comfort. Men that were dressed up in suits, ties, and hat in public are common. On the other hand, women wear dresses and skirts. Along with the modest clothing, women also wore gloves and fur back in the days. Also, clothing in the 40s was colorful and bright like hot pinks, reds, and acid greens.

In addition, printed skirts and ‘broomstick skirts’ were also popular. Back then, when wearing fur coats were not a crime, women wore it to combat cold weather and to look elegant. The furs in the 40s were very carefully styled. It featured full-draped swaggers, extended shoulders, wide arm-hole sleeves, cardigan neckline, and turn-back cuffs. Meanwhile, men’s fashion grew more warlike in the 40s. Military clothing could be seen everywhere, and office suits become sleeker, thinly cut, and more expensive.


Packard 180 Touring Sedan, 1941

Compared to the cars in the 30s, cars in the 40s were much more streamlined. Because of the things that the war had brought forth, many changes had to be made. Besides, there was a shortage of materials like copper, aluminum, and zinc. With that, carmakers went back to cast iron and steel. Nevertheless, cars still got bigger and luxurious. In 1942, car models looked larger, massive, and lower. Hoods were much broader and rounder in front. Also, bumpers were curved around the fenders and were much heavier. Moreover, headlamps were farther apart, and the overall length of the car was slightly increased.

Nowadays, cars from the 40s in good condition, particularly the convertibles, are extremely valuable.