WHAT WE WORE

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine - - BEHIND THE HEADLINES - Jad Adams is a writer and Fel­low of the Royal His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety

From 1942, the Util­ity Cloth­ing Scheme gov­erned the de­sign and pro­duc­tion of fab­ric and cloth­ing, re­strict­ing the us­age of ma­te­rial and trim­mings, giv­ing a pared back, tailored look to cloth­ing which con­tin­ued through to the end of the war and be­yond. Hats were not ra­tioned and, along with hair­styles, were a way women could in­ject in­di­vid­u­al­ity into their look. When out of uni­form, the lounge suit, with broad shoul­ders and wide trousers, dom­i­nated for men. Ali­son To­plis Hair was rolled and pinned away from the fore­head, the back waved and curled, help­ing to add glam­our to the sim­ple un­adorned cloth­ing avail­able at the time. The tra­di­tion of wear­ing hats in pub­lic was no longer uni­ver­sally fol­lowed. Older women main­tained a pre- war sil­hou­ette, the lady here ap­pear­ing to wear cloth­ing and a hat dat­ing from the 1920s.

Trousers had been worn by women since the 1930s for leisure pur­suits such as golf, sail­ing and beach­wear. Adopted more widely dur­ing the war for prac­ti­cal rea­sons, younger women also be­gan to wear them off duty. Shoes were hardy and prac­ti­cal, usu­ally laced, with a small or medium heel.

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