When home heating fuel had to be rationed during the Second World War, a page was borrowed from Granny's play book and women once again began to sport crochet wraps, shawls and booties around the house.
Two short, gossipy paragraphs from a Hollywood literary magazine printed early in the American home front experience concerning women war-workers, fabric rationing and the long-standing debate between ready-made uniforms vs custom-made uniforms:
"Feminine uniforms are causing great dismay. Women of small means complain that while they would like custom-made uniforms, they can't afford them. Nevertheless, designers are doing a capacity business, turning out ultra-chic numbers for those in the money..."
Click here to read an article about women's uniforms during W.W. I.
When the general appearance of women's uniforms prescribed for voluntary war work by various charitable organizations were deemed unfashionable, uncomfortable or simply embarrassing, the well-known fashion stylist and costume designer Irene (Irene Lentz, 1900 - 1962) stepped up to the plate designing an all-purpose green wool suit, topped-off by a beret:
"The noted Hollywood stylist, Irene, performed a real service for defense when she designed her all-around defense suit. Of sturdy gabardine, worn with long cotton service socks and plastic shoes, it is nevertheless as attractive as any civilian suit, and more practical than most. In this outfit, women war workers will not feel self-conscious and ill at ease."
The editors at COLLIER'S MAGAZINE could not have known the significance of this subject back in 1942, yet to those Americans born after 1960 who read these old columns, it seems like a sign post that pointed the way to the sportswear of the future. Verily, few are the Americans who tread the fruited plane today who do not see at least one pair of jeans every day. Blue jeans have become the symbol of the nation, just as much as the flag.
This 1940s article pointed out that more and more Americans are waking up to denim. They found that it suited them and deemed it a sensible fabric in light of the new agricultural and industrial toil that needed to be finished if the fascists were to be beaten. However, denim was not some newfangled wartime invention; denim has been on the American scene since 1853 - in the Western gold mines and barnyards, roundhouses and cattle ranges.
Some seven years before this article hit the newsstands American teenagers began wearing jeans, but it was W.W. II that created a market for women's jeans, and for good or ill, the course of American sportswear was forever altered.
A far more thorough fashion history of blue jeans can be read here.
In light of the fact that we are patriots, we like to think that these hairdos were not as wide-spread on the home front as the journalist implies.
Michel, of the Helena Rubinstein salons, has been fingered as the one responsible for the two-tone "pin-On" hairdo, a look that was entirely reliant upon the false hair industry in order to achieve the preferred look. Three color images are provided as well as six "how-to" images.
During the Second World War, hair dye was not simply used by women; click here to read about the men who needed it.
Click here to read a 1961 article about Jacqueline Kennedy's influence on American fashion.
There can be no doubt that the fashion-craving lasses of the Thirties and Forties had a tough time of it! Coming of age during the the Great Depression, they spent too much time window-shopping as a result of the all too widespread economic deprivations that were the order of the day - only to be greeted on the other end by the fabric rationing that accompanied the Second World War. They had some good news in the form of a swanky garment that was called "Hostess Gowns" which were seen as ultra-feminine and tailored in the finer fabrics of the day:
"Top-notch fashion stores are finding a new wartime boom in luxury hostess gowns and pajamas; new styles for home reflect the latest dress fashion trends. Ruffles, waistline draping, beads, sequins and marabou add luxury; a number of dressy models might also be taken for dinner gowns..."