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Wartime fashion

a term of seemingly oxymoronic attribute-

is anything but when used to describe 1940s British fashion.

Though the years of conflict (WWII, 1939 – 1940)

imposed tight restrictions on the availability of

various types of materials for clothing manufacturing-

resourcefulness, inventiveness and creativity

resulted in garments, which were practical yet chic.

(image from rokit.co.uk):

fashion on a ration

(image from mens fashion magazine):

fashion on ration, men

As WWII progressed,  the British government imposed

rationing regulations on, among other things, clothing and footwear.

British citizens were encouraged to “make do and mend”.

Recycling and upcycling of garments was encouraged and necessary.

At the time it was illegal and considered unpatriotic to embellish

garments with buttons, pockets, extra pleating or trimming.

Such adornments required extra material and haberdashery-

which were all in short supply.

In 1942, the British government established

the Incorporated Society of Fashion Designers.

Given the austerity of the time,

this group of leading designers created over 30 new “utility” clothing pieces:

garments of simple design, yet well crafted and stylish.

(image from marieclaire.co.uk):

fashion on a ration

The Imperial War Museum, London

is presently hosting the exhibition

Fashion on the Ration:  1940s Street Style

which examines how fashion survived and further thrived

during the war years.

On display are wartime letters, photos, postcards,

paintings/drawings, notebooks

and of course samples of clothing (civilian and military) and accessories-

all collectively offers an image of life at the time.

Fashion on the Ration:  1940s Street Style

Imperial War Museum, London

until 31 August 2015

For further detail, visit