Many times characters were depicted doing something to show you what the outfit was designed for. it was shown with a model with a broom in her hand.
Clothing designed for going out in would have the character wearing gloves with her purse and possibly a hat. Hairstyles were generally a lot more "fluffy" rather than the tight, sleek look of the 40's.
Some women took over the factory jobs that the men held previously, thus companies (and sewing patterns! It became acceptable for women to wear these things if they were doing such dirty jobs.
Keeping that in mind, you can still get a rough idea of the era based upon price and then use further assessments to narrow it down father.50 cent patterns were in the 1950's.
Early 1950's elaborate patterns, such as coats, suit sets etc.
In contrast, Chanel didn't care for Dior's New Look, and reinvented her designs to a more boxy suit jacket and slim pencil skirts.
Givenchy followed suit with more slimming designs and A-lines that soon blossomed heavily in the 1960's.
Children's garments were sewn with the idea of passing them down to younger family members.
In the 1940's character sketches were more detailed, but generally the pattern envelopes were only printed in 2-3 colors in the early-mid 40's. The character featured generally had small pointy lips, defined small facial features, her hair was curled under or tightly coiffed.
Printed patterns (pattern pieces with printed edges) were more expensive than unprinted patterns.
(With unprinted patterns you match notches and cutouts together).
In some cases this can add to it's charm and it can become "shabby chic", but if your looking for just "chic" then be prepared to shell out some cash or if your handy with the sewing machine (why, yes, I am!