So, there is a thing I have been mildly irritated about since 2011, and I apparently have reached my breaking point. 99% of the costuming in CAtFA ranges from acceptable to spot-on. The menswear is really well-done, the uniforms are accurate, the showgirls look GREAT. But holy…
I don’t know what she’s talking about with the shoulders - those are nice and square, and yes, they do look like there are shoulder pads. I also have to point out that most of the examples she’s citing are American. Peggy is British, there is zero evidence that she ever so much as set fit in America during the war except in her official capacity as an SSR officer. I’d have a lot more respect for this post if there were more British dresses.
Finally - this scene takes place in 1943. Britain had been at war for four years by then, and new dresses and the fabric to make them strictly rationed. Women were using old parachutes to make their wedding dresses, and cutting down old frocks from the late 1930’s, turning their dresses to get more wear out of them, and eliminating all the fancy ruching and beaded detailed and flared skirts the OP finds lacking. Remember, America had more of everything, from food to clothing to gasoline to paper for printed books, than Britain. That includes fabric and clothing.
And while, yes, a flared skirt was popular, there is more than the occasional example of more pencil-type skirt shapes. Certainly in the 30s to support a cut-down and restyled dress.
And oh yeah, there was that thing where Britain had massive fabric rations.
You know, this made me track down a better-lit picture of the dress, and you guys are right that there are hip details you can’t see well onscreen, and a more-padded shoulder than I had thought.
Unfortunately, there’s still a lot wrong, starting with the collar, which makes me wince— it’s really poorly made (the wrinkles!) and doesn’t even look like it belongs on that dress! I have spent a LOT of time looking at and handling 40s dresses, and I have never ever seen a collar like that, in either shape or construction.
Mostly, though, to my eye this dress just lands in a weird Uncanny Valley of period detail, where whoever made it clearly knew almost but not quite enough to make it look right. The sleeves are a weird length and way too tight— in a modern fabric with some stretch, sure, they’d work fine, but if you made a sleeve that way in-period the underarms would get shredded REALLY quickly. The skirt’s a few inches too short— it should be at least a little past the kneecap— and too tight (again, no stretch, and cutting on the bias would waste fabric!) and just not constructed anything like any 40s dress I’ve ever seen. The hip gathers, once again, are nodding in the right direction but just don’t look right to me— i think they’re placed a little high, perhaps?
As far as Peggy’s access to new clothing, given rationing, we see her in the US (apparently for some time) in 1942, so she certainly had a chance to buy clothes outside of Britain. Here’s a two-page spread from Life Magazine in September 1944, featuring women in their street clothes in several American cities. Of the 6 New Yorkers (on the second page), 5 are definitely wearing flared skirts and 1 might be wearing a slimmer skirt, but it’s hard to tell from the photo.
Really, the main problem is that I sell vintage clothes for a living, and therefore have spent a stupid amount of time looking at and handling (and wearing!) actual 40s garments; this is not something I should expect filmmakers to do. Other than the collar, there’s no one big glaring thing wrong, just a cavalcade of not-quite-right details.
For the record, I thought the rest of the womenswear was fine-to-good. For instance, Jenna Coleman’s dress in the Expo scene has just the right drape to it, and her friend’s dress has a great neckline.
I guess I’m mostly cranky because there’s no real reason for Peggy’s dress to not be at least that good. I should, by now, be used to the female lead in any film set prior to today being dressed in clothes intended to appeal to a modern eye, usually at the expense of accuracy, and ending up a weird in-betweeny mess. It still annoys the crap out me, though.