top of page
  • Writer's pictureLonda

Fashion & Rations…a WW2 History Part 1

What they were  wearing was constantly in my imagination as I’ve vicariously lived the pre-WWII years, reading through the  5 volumes in the Zion Covenant-historical fiction* by Brock & Brodie Thoene.   It seems that even my college education did a pitifully poor job of teaching me current history, so I’ve vowed to fill in the gaps during my bedtime reading during 2017.

*Opening in 1936, the Zion Covenant series tells the courageous and compelling stories of those who risk everything to stand against the growing tide of Nazi terrorism that is sweeping through central Europe under the dangerous and deceitful guise of Hitler’s Third Reich. 


WW2 Fashion Summary

Having finished that wonderful book series, a quick online search pulled up this summary from All Things Kate –

Read the 2 paragraphs below for ‘just the facts’, but if you’re interested, keep tuning in this week for a VERY INTERESTING view of history from a fashion perspective. 

“With a large number of men fighting, women were left to do what had traditionally been “man’s work.” You might not realize that this slight shift would cause an affect on women’s fashion, but in fact, it had a profound impact on women and their attire. It’s strange for us to imagine a time where pants were not an acceptable form of clothing. Even though women began wearing pants in the early 1900s, women who wore pants or pantsuits such as Hollywood starlet Katherine Hepburn, were viewed as rebels. It wasn’t until World War II when many women went to work in factories that pants became an acceptable item. Many wore their husbands pants to work not only to save their dresses but also because of safety issues. Victory suits became a popular trend as women could mix and match skirts, shirts, pants, and jackets.

The war truly shaped women’s fashions not only with respect to wearing pants. The fabrics and styles of dresses were also a direct reflection of the time. With the rationing of materials, dresses went from mid-calf to knee length, and took on a more militant style (hello, shoulder pads!). Post-war, pants continued to be acceptable wear for women because of their practicality and comfort. “


Find a quick pictorial summary, and even a great SHORT VIDEO  of how the war changed our dress at this link:

With coupons limiting what could be bought in the shops, old garments at the back of wardrobes were adapted and given new life.  Mending was not only necessary but valued.  Dressmaking classes were supported in GB in 1943!

How very, very different life was then from the almost gluttonous supply of clothing available to us today at ridicusoulsy LOW prices as depicted in this photo from my recent mall ‘fashion snoopin’ trip!


I can’t help but think what SHOCK we would all be in if our clothing habits were to all of the sudden become rationed to one new garment PER YEAR!

More curious for details, I searched further to find a wonderful 85 page thesis by Meghann Mason. During this week’s Blog Posts I’ll share more from this thesis, but if you just can’t wait, and would like to read it for yourself, find it HERE.  Along with fashion history, you’ll even get a good summary of WW2, which, if you’re like most of my Baby Boomer friends I’ve recently asked, you also need to learn and understand.

Enjoy reading – I hope you’ll share and follow along with my posts the week.  I’m off to write to my 90+ year old aunt, asking about her memories of rationing.  I’m confident you’ll agree that the times we live in are blessed, indeed in comparison!

Recent Posts

See All


Rated 0 out of 5 stars.
No ratings yet

Add a rating
bottom of page