What Impact has World War 2 had on Fashion?
For this assignment I have been asked to select an aspect of fashion culture to research and investigate. I have decided to base my assignment on World War 2 and investigate the impact it has had on fashion culture as a whole. I have chosen a history based theme for my assignment as I personally believe that history plays a main part in today's fashion culture, and I also think it is very interesting to see how designers today revive fashion from the past.
The essay will firstly explore how fashion survived during World War 2, which will include looking at the recycling of materials which took place. Secondly I will examine how work affected what women had to wear; this will also be linked closely with exploring whether the World War 2 era was the start of women wearing functional clothing. The next area I will explore is whether celebrities during the period, had an impact on what women wore. Throughout the investigation I will analyse whether there are elements of fashion from World War 2 which still exist today. Lastly I will conclude the assignment, ‘what impact has World War 2 had on fashion?’
I feel that fashion survived extremely well during World War 2. This was due to women being encouraged to 'Make Do' and 'Mend (see illustration 1).' An example of the 'Make Do' and 'Mend,' was that, “pillowcases would be turned into white shorts for summer. Also Wedding dresses would be worn several times, borrowed by either sisters or friends, until the original 1939 bride in desperation for new items, remade the dress up into underwear, French Knickers or nightgowns” (In my wardrobe, 2008). Women who could sew dresses had trouble getting hold of fabrics so they used everything from industrial blackout cloth to parachute silk or the harsher new parachute nylon. Blankets were used to make coats and old voluminous swagger coats cut into smaller garments. Nothing was wasted and even milk top discs were covered in raffia and made into handbags or accessories.
Make Do and Mend (illustration 1)
I was told by my grandma, Florence Renner, age 82, “Being in England they didn’t have access to luxury items like stockings (unless they got them off an American soldier), so my mum would rub oils on her legs, and then take an eyebrow pencil to draw a fake stocking seam up the back of the leg. Everyone had to be inventive in those days. Most of the time, my mum and dad wore the uniform provided for them by the army, but they had to wear a civilian shirt underneath because the rough uniform material made them itch.”
I believe that this helped fashion survive during World War 2, as without the ‘Make do’ and ‘Mend’ scheme, it was really hard for people to get hold of fabric or purchase new clothes due to rationing and short supplies.
I think that due to the recession, the scheme is mirrored in today's fashion, “while today's economic circumstances do not compare to those dark days, John Lewis believes there is a similar desire today to make the best of what may be increasingly straitened personal circumstances” (Wilson. B., 2009). This portrays that people today should think twice about throwing away clothes and instead, they should adapt the existing garment into another to be able to fit with current trends, which enables them to save cost on buying new clothes. Another existing trend which is around today, which appeared in the war is that people pass down clothes through generations, which are of a high value, for example wedding dresses. This is mainly because wedding dresses are a classic fashion which does not go out of trend each season. Before the Second World War, women were expected to be 'housewives' or perhaps do certain 'women's jobs', such as nursing or being a domestic servant or shop assistant. The war changed the world of work for women for ever. When men went to fight, women were called upon to fill their jobs, and this included many jobs that were previously...
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