1940s South American Travel Poster

The Latin American craze in fashion was popular in the 1930s and 1940s. This began when president FDR started the “Good Neighbor Policy” with his 1933 inaugural address. This policy would create new trade between South and North America. The United States also wanted to make sure that we had allies below us in case the growing Axis traveled across the Atlantic. The advent of commercial air travel also allowed travelers to visit “exotic” places, such as Brazil and Argentina. Tourists were enthralled with all the colors, styles, and prints, and upon returning home, started wearing the “Latin look”. The exotic turban saw a rise in popularity. Bangle brackets (the chunkier the better) in bright shades of red, yellow, and green also became quite popular. Espadrilles became the shoe of choice for the summer months, giving any look a little latin flare. Movies like “Flying Down to Rio” (1933), “Saludos Amigos” (1942), and “Down Argentine Way” (1940), which stared the famous Carmen Miranda, really captured the style people came to expect from South America.

Carmen Miranda

Carmen Miranda was a popular Portuguese actress who is best remembered as “the lady in the tutti-frutti hat”. As her popularity grew, her style would be copied. Her movies like “Down Argentina Way” (1940) and “That Night in Rio” (1941) captured her Latin flair. Of course, these costumes weren’t very culturally accurate, but the trend continued. Even Saks Fifth Avenue developed a line of turbans and jewelry inspired by her. This Latin American trend ended around the time World War II was won. Americans became more focused on home and the returning American GIs. But artists and designers still get caught up in the romanticism of South America, with fashion designers like Marc Jacobs and Charlotte Olympia choosing Latin America as inspiration. In the vintage world, 1940s tourist jackets from Mexico are becoming popular.

1940s Fashion Ad

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