Fashion Flashback: Fashion Rations

When I think of the 1940s I think of the war, Rosie the Riveter, and rations on food and gasoline.  I forget that fashion was impacted too when the United States imposed a system in 1942 that limited, among other things, the amount of fabric that could be used in each garment.  Materials like wool, silk, and leather were diverted for use in military uniforms and parachutes.

Some of the ration rules were:

Belts – No more than 2 inches wide
Heels – No more than 1 inch high
Jackets – No more than 25 inches long
Pants – May not measure more than 19 inches in circumference at the hem

In an effort to conserve fabric, women saw their hemlines rise but they also lost a lot of their clothing’s delicate decór.  Ruffles and lace were used sparingly.  Other decorations like buttons, cuffs and pockets were also a rarity.

By the late 1940s women wanted some elegance back.  In 1947 designer Christian Dior obliged with a fashion line that became known as the New Look.  Skirts were long with tiny waists and made from beautiful fabrics.  The style met with some resistance because women were reluctant to lower their hemlines again.

Dior’s New Look

Also look at this gorgeous, rare haute couture evening gown:

Just because I love looking at old ads, I thought I’d include a 1940s Naturalizer shoe ad:

Compare that to these modern shoes:

Marc by Marc Jacob Oxford pumps

The more things change, the more they stay the same.  Even when it comes to fashion.

Images: via Mintage Vintage, Retro Housewife

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