There was a distinct change in women’s fashion during World War II (1939 to 1945). This was due to restrictions placed on resources at a time when they were invaluable to the war effort. The production of clothing that was suitable for everyday life was also a high priority. This lead to certain items of clothing, such as the turban and the the siren suit, becoming extremely popular.
One the major factors affecting women’s fashion during World War II was the appearance that all individuals were adhering to the guidelines set up by the government and aiding the war effort. This created fashion that was simple and lacked extravagance, with limited use of material. Women were encouraged to recreate clothing garments from existing clothes that they had. Accessories such as sewing thread, mending wool, mending silk, boot and shoe laces, tapes, braids, ribbons to aid clothes making were readily available. It was this simplification of style that became essential if a woman wanted to appear patriotic.
Another major factor affecting women’s fashion during World War II was the need to wear appropriate and practical clothing. Women’s work clothing had to allow free and easy movement to reduce health hazards within factories and warehouses. Within everyday life, clothing was also required to be suitable for emergencies.
The siren suit was a popular item of women’s fashion during World War II. The suit was similar to a jump suit, an all in one item with a large zipper at the front which could be worn over the top of other clothes. The suit was designed to be put on quickly, making it ideal for emergencies. The suit also had large pockets which enabled the user to store essential items on the way to a air raid shelter.
The turban was a female head piece that was fashionable during World War II. It was an item that was mainly used at work in order to prevent long hair from becoming caught within machinery. The head wear was also a simple and efficient way of women presenting themselves.
Other female fashions that were common during the World War II due to material limitations included skirts that hung 19 inches from the ground. This allowed a suitable amount of material to be used without overuse. Buttons were also limited to three and turn back cuffs were eliminated. Fabrics that were common included wool, silk and cotton due to their cheapness. Fabrics that were uncommon include nylon, which quickly increased in price as soon as the war started.
References and ResourcesFashion Era: 1940s Rationing -- Utility Clothing Fashion and Costume History
NY Fashion Center: Nylon Fabric Information