During the war, as men went off to fight, women took on jobs earlier filled by men. They took jobs in factories, worked as drivers, nurses, on farms, even performed administrative work. Many of the occupations demanded the different uniforms related to the type of work that they were doing which includes trousers, belts, military-style tunic, jackets, and adornments. The new image of freedom, self-independent, self-respect led women away from traditionally assigned gender roles.
Fashion preceding World War I
Before World War I, France was the center of fashion. Women around the globe looked to French designers for direction and guidance. By following high fashions and staying updated with the designers’ most recent collections, people were able to differentiate between the social classes and set themselves apart, displaying their wealth and position.
What are the things that happened during wartime?
The war had much effect on fashion as there was a shortage of clothes and rationed. The government motivated people to make new clothes from the older ones by transforming them into modern styles and hence the emergence of different styles according to their convenience and also which were traditionally comes under the modesty criteria.
Evolution of skirts during world war.
1914 brought a new fashion trend known as the “war crinoline” in addition to this a bell-shaped skirt and a wide skirt were trending. In 1915 hemlines rose to mid-calf and rightists complained of unvirtuous nature. Later in 1918 skirts grow narrow again and hemlines fell to below the calf. The longest dresses were trending with clean lines and a natural waist in 1919.
Shaved legs became standard female grooming.
Shaving the legs became a part of standard female grooming as women’s uniforms include shorter skirts then were conventional in 1914. The skirts were now at 6 to 10 inches off the ground and hence the reveal of a bit leg part leads to the change in perception regarding body hair meanwhile in 1915 Gillette came up with Milady Décolleté razors for the grooming purpose as the body hair became unprepossessing.
What are the other aspects related to clothing?
Pants – they became essential for women who worked in factories and gained widespread acceptance for work at home as well as for casual work.
Hair – for feminine look hair was worn long and curled, the reason behind this was the salons were expensive and that is why women took a haircut less often.
Shoulder Pads– they became very popular during that time to highlight masculine and military look.
Stockings – they were earlier made of silk but the military began to use nylon fabric for their manufacturing. Later bobby socks became popular among the younger generation.
Fashion During World War II
World War II was an intriguing era in fashion. The fashion of the era was truly illustrative of the events happening around the world in the most evident manner. This era made ineradicable marks on future designers and the science of fashion as the world knows it. Fashion and costume design were affected and changed due to the many restrictions presented and imposed by WWII.
What are the variations that took place in the name of styling/clothes?
Many women’s garments took a military look that emphasized the significance of the war. The rationing of material used in garment production during the war introduced simplicity in women’s clothing.
The clothes were then of a shorter hemline, more emphasis on legs, shoulder pads were used. Adorning elements on clothes were vanished due to rationed material and this led to creating the origin of a classic style.
What were the criteria for distributing fabric during wartime?
To supply the war, the fabric was rationed and later cloth rationing resulted in a coupon system. Eleven coupons were required for a dress, two required for a pair of stockings, and eight required for a man’s shirt or a pair of trousers. Women’s shoes meant relinquishing five coupons. In 1941, 66 coupons per year were allotted to adults and in 1945, the limit decreased to 36 coupons per year for an adult.
Introduction of Rayon
Nylon and wool both were required by the military and Japanese silk was banned in the USA after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Later in the 1930s, Rayon, the new synthetic fabric became the material most often used for the creation of ladies’ clothing during the War.
Jumpsuit a as fashion wear
Many women-owned Utility Jumpsuits which one could place on quickly when the sirens blew. The jumpsuit, an innovation, was warm and snug and featured pockets for papers and valuables. Later on, most likely because of its slimmer cut, the jumpsuit gained a fashionable following.
WWI and WWII required mobilizing the whole nation not only ideologically, but also in every aspect of life, including the clothing people wore. The wartime economy, the change in population demographics, and women getting into the workforce all had an incredible impact on fashion. Styles are always influenced by the function clothes must serve, economic factors, the availability of goods, social expression, and social aspiration, and by what is worn by the armed forces. These influences affect fashion and fashion affects and reflects culture, and society.
B.Sc graduate from Delhi University
Currently pursuing B.LlS from IGNOU.
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