n this essay I will be discovering why there were clothing rationed in the world war and how it affected fashion from then and till present day, I am looking into the ‘make do and Mend’ campaign and how it made British women breakout with their own creativity and individuality. I will be looking at different areas within the clothes rationing, such as the coupons that were used, the change of the uniforms before and after the war, and the overall getaway whilst loved ones were fighting for the country. In my opinion i believe the fashion during the world war has influenced fashion during the present day, for example minimalistic designs and silhouettes are still in the department stores also designers and brands such as alpha industries got inspired by the known pilot jackets/bombers. Also elegant chic pleats is still recognised within women garments. So overall, if the war was affecting the quality and shortage of the textiles for the manufacturing of the garments the simplicity of the style is in fashion within our present day.
Around the second world war there was a shortage on clothing and they were having to be rationed out to the British public, because the UK factories needed to make parachutist and uniforms for the war and made this the priority. Also, a quarter of the British public were entitled to wear a uniform of some kind during this unfortunate time periods. This put an enormous amount of pressure within Britain’s textiles and clothing industries, armed forces were also in a shortage for clothing and the quality of the clothing. For example, the by 1940s the ‘Battle dress’ was a standard field uniform for the army, it replaced the service dress which was the early uniform. So, during this time the 1940s battle dress was referred as the ‘utility pattern’ as the design of the garment was modified to make it more efficient to produce.
Images above show the dramatic change from the service dress with all the high spec details, to British battle dress, where the detailing’s were compromised.
Clothing rationing was announced on 1st June 1941 , The government needed to reduce the makings of public clothing, so they had to release workers and factory space in order to make it only relevant for the war. It was announced by Oliver Lyttleton President of the Board of Trade on 1st June 1941. Because of the shortage during the war the British public was given a coupon book with numerous coloured pages provided by the government, each person and household would receive the exact amount as everyone. ‘The results afforded the Board the opportunity to tune and refine the scheme as war progressed so that rationing could continue to provide civilian population with adequate and appropriate clothing despite war demands on textile and garment manufacturing industries’ Howell. Geraldine. Wartime Fashion : from Haute couture to homemade. 2012. Berg Publishers. From this research it shows that the population was treated fairly as the government didn’t take into account if you were upper or lower class with money or struggling. It was a complete surprise to the public as a year before they were introduced to the food rationing, this is making everyday life a struggle having to ration food, now textile. The British public were only able to buy one full new outfit for the whole year. Within the coupon booklets they were given 60 coupons to last them a whole year, it was later reduced to 48, and for young children they were given 10 more coupons as they were growing. The British public wasn’t only giving in coupons they would also have to use money in order to purchase their garments, the coupon was announced as it lowest from 1945-1946 they were only 24 coupons to last them from 1 September 1945 to 30 April 1946 , so breaking it down this would give people only 3 coupons a month.
LEFT TO RIGHT: MANDY BARROW., 2013. MEN AND BOYS CLOTHING COUPONS., WOMEN AND GIRLS CLOTHING COUPONS [ONLINE] AVAILABLE AT.,URL http://www.primaryhomeworkhelp.co.uk/war/rationing3.html MANDY BARROW.,2013.MAGNETA COUPONS [ONLINE] AVAILABLE AT http://www.primaryhomeworkhelp.co.uk/war/rationing3.html The images above show the coupon booklet to purchase clothing on the right and the images on the left shows how many coupons certain items of clothing takes.
LEFT TO RIGHT: DONIA NACHSHEN.,1942. GO THROUGH YOUR WARDROBE- MAKE DO AND MEND [ONLINE] www.iwm.org.uk/history/8-facts-about-clothes-rationing-in-britain-during-the-second-world-war Images above shows the magazines, articles and pattern cutting promoting the ‘Make do and Mend’ during the war
The clothing shortage during the war it enhanced people to become more creative with their
clothing and how to dress, this would make them feel confident and have their own identity.
The ‘Make Do and Mend’ was launched to encourage people to make their existing clothing to last longer, the care of clothes was a huge part of the ‘Make to Mend’ campaign. As the war went on it was difficult to buy new clothes with rationing to 3 coupons a month, buying clothes from the stores wasn’t an option for many people, so the campaign helped the public to repair and make their own clothing last longer and it became popular during these times. Although, the public would still have to purchase fabric with the coupons that the government provided, this was a creative getaway for the women during the WW2, they could self-teach and / or attend classes, those who embraced the ‘make do and mend’ campaign saved more money other than purchasing readymade garments. This was one of the initial needs to keep busy in the absence of loved ones during the war. The ‘Make Do and Mend’ would offer classes around the country demonstrating and teaching skills such as sewing, and pattern cutting. The creativity and skills they became to embrace brought out the individuality with their dress sense, this was a breakthrough during the 1940’s as it took away the tension and hard times with the focus on the war. Researching the ‘make do and mend’ campaign and the WW2 time fashion shows that women became more skilful within their fashion brining out confidence in themselves by wanting to show off their own hand made item of clothing, it allowed them to be individual, unique and one of a kind within themselves and their dress style.
The public that now gained these skills would go on to recreate their existing garments and upcycle them to make other items even more unique and individual by adding detailing’s which in this case would smarten up their own one of a kind garment. Many women used furnishing fabrics for dressmaking until these also went into rationing, parachute silk was highly used for underwear, pajama’s and wedding dresses. During the war Britain did become unfashionable as they were such a shortage on readymade, tailored clothing and dressmaking materials, there was a high concern and it was noticeable that the lack of effort in personal appearance was a sign of minimal confidence, and the government saw this as concern towards the impact of the war. The rationing lasted until March 1949, and from the rationing times has developed changes and the shape of fashion this present day. From the war, garment manufacturing helped push the growth of mass market fashion which eventually helped department stores to succeed. Post war trend was a more relaxed and informal style of dress also gathered pace in wartime.