'Fashion on the Ration,' a Tribute to the Street Style of World War II

Illustration for article titled Fashion on the Ration, a Tribute to the Street Style of World War II

Even as Nazis swept across Europe and harsh austerity measures gripped the United Kingdom, people still woke up every morning and got dressed. And despite it all, plenty of women wanted to look sharp. Hence: Fashion on the Ration, a new exhibit chronicling the creative street styles of the 1940s.

Advertisement

It's the work of London's Imperial War Museum (whoa there guys, take it down a notch) is currently hosting the (delightfully named) show. The Guardian has a little peek at the exhibit's lessons:

Introduced in 1941, clothes rationing meant coming up with ways of finding a look on limited resources, or whatever was to hand, such as bracelets made from aircraft components and bridesmaids dresses made with parachute fabric. The best examples here are a bra and knickers made from silk RAF maps, once belonging to Countess Mountbatten. Innovative and stylish, that combination works in any era.

Advertisement

And for those of us who can't make it across the pond, this Telegraph review of the accompanying book has some great context about the Make Do and Mend, introduced in 1942, and the determinedly upbeat Vogue issues of the period: "It would be an added calamity if war turned us into a nation of frights and slovens," went one dictum. And of course, photos:

Illustration for article titled Fashion on the Ration, a Tribute to the Street Style of World War II
Illustration for article titled Fashion on the Ration, a Tribute to the Street Style of World War II
Illustration for article titled Fashion on the Ration, a Tribute to the Street Style of World War II
Advertisement
Illustration for article titled Fashion on the Ration, a Tribute to the Street Style of World War II

Photos via Getty.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter

DISCUSSION

benjaminallover
benjaminallover

My grandmother was deeply affected by the anxiety of being poor during the war, and she retained her spendthrift ways up until she died just last year. Going through her things, what amazed me was that she kept everything, and so, so carefully. Every purchased item in its original box, often with the receipt taped to the bottom. Little cut-open milkbags with 40 years of used birthday candles in them. Tiny bits of string, all carefully wound. A used peanut butter jar filled with small folded bits of used colored tissue paper, to be saved for wrapping gifts. A meticulously repaired hat box full of single socks, because hey- you might find a use for them some day, right?

I can't say she was a hoarder, since her house was always perfectly tidy, and she did not like to spend money, but wow; did you really need to save decades worth of disposable cardboard Christmas Cracker noisemakers in the closet, Grandma? Her favorite line was "save it for a rainy day".