Wartime ra­tioning changed our fash­ions

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I thought the item (April) from Corinne Tud­den­hamTrett, fashion ed­i­tor, that most women over 50 lack con­fi­dence, in their bod­ies quite amus­ing. In World War Two, clothes coupons were needed to buy any kind of clothes, any­where.

Clothes ra­tioning be­gan in June, 1941 and coupon books were is­sued to ev­ery man, woman and child and the max­i­mum of 66 coupons were al­lowed per year, the equiv­a­lent for one out­fit!

Knit­ting wool and cloth for dress­mak­ing was ra­tioned but black­out ma­te­rial for win­dows was not, and we could buy bet­ter shoes and wooden clogs as well as over­alls and work uni­forms, mend­ing yarn, boot laces, braces, hats, muslin, lint and med­i­cal gar­ments with­out us­ing coupons, and moth­ers were en­cour­aged to sell or ex­change their chil­dren’s out­grown clothes and shoes in the swap shops run by the WVS, and go­ing to jum­ble sales was very use­ful too.

The rules and reg­u­la­tions about women’s clothes were un­be­liev­able. Women’s skirts couldn’t have elas­ti­cated waist bands, no un­nec­es­sary pleats or gath­ers, no fash­ion­able belts and come just be­low the knee and jack­ets were straight and square-shoul­dered.

Un­der­wear and night wear like py­ja­mas were re­stricted too and not el­e­gant or sexy, but just func­tional. Colours were limited as the chem­i­cals used for dy­ing were needed for the war ef­fort.

All this and we weren’t de­jected. We dyed our legs with tea and drew lines down the back of our legs with an eye­brow pen­cil to im­i­tate stock­ing seams.

The amus­ing thing is that wear­ing trousers be­came fash­ion­able for women, when they worked on the land or in fac­to­ries and this was un­think­able be­fore 1944.

It was fash­ion­able too to wear a tur­ban. Many of my friends did at work in Ca­ley’s old fac­tory in Nor­wich, mak­ing mu­ni­tions.

The war cer­tainly did change the dress code con­cern­ing women’s fashion!

On page 72 (April) is a pic­ture of Taver­ham Ju­nior Ven­ture Scouts on their bus, which was bought as an HQ. How­ever, it is cap­tioned as be­ing at the Round Well home of Mr K Ad­cock. The Round Well was at the junc­tion of Long­wa­ter Lane and Dere­ham Road, in Costessey. Mr Ad­cock’s home was called Round Wood. I am sure of this as Mr Ad­cock is my father, and we had been liv­ing at Round Wood for 10 years when the pho­to­graph was taken. By the way the young man wav­ing and hold­ing on to the wing mir­ror is my brother. JANET CUT­TING (nee Ad­cock).

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