No rationing in 1914-18 except 4.5 yards limit on material for dresses. (Start of dresses going to ankle length)
By 1916 Women’s armed forces in being as conscription introduced for men.
Traditional view of women’s role was a ‘holding one’. Huge fear of panic if bombing becomes the norm.
After 1920 they had The Vote
In 1940 and the years that followed the people of Britain were protagonists in their own history in a fashion never known before. (Angus Calder)
Forces 744,000 264,000
Civ . 1500 62,000
First thing people asked for after being dug out was their false teeth
Note trousers being worn in the Ops. Room
But Interwar and Wartime Britain a Class Ridden Society
Perfection in bias cut Vionnet.
The last pre-war gasp of the era of debutantes and knowing your place.
ANGUS CALDER Pre-war it was a very class ridden society, was there ever a mood of national solidarity? 1945-1951 saw huge voting polarization. Was ‘myth of the blitz and pulling together a middle class thing?
However the Reality for Most Married Working Class Women (Stepney 1937)
Old before her time
Poor health (Teeth, Rickets, TB, No Natal Care)
Husband in casual work
Living in slum housing in one of the world’s richest countries.
KNOW YOUR PLACE IN THIS RICH COUNTRY
JUST A PERSONAL POINT
Thinking Behind Utility and Rationing
Much More Democratic Country with a full franchise
Economic Necessity to control inflation
In 1930s huge ‘import’ economy.
Had experience of WW1
Why should people at the bottom make sacrifices for a country that had abandoned them
Rationing: Draconian Sumptuary Laws
Bacon and ham - 100g/4oz
Butter - 50g/2oz
Cheese - 50g/2oz
Marg - 100g/4oz
Cooking fat - 100g/4oz (often dropping to 2oz)
Milk - 3pts/1800ml (but not always)
Sugar - 8oz/225g
Preserves - 1lb/450g every two months
Eggs - one shell egg a week if available
Dried eggs - one pack per month
Sweets -12oz/350g a month
Plus monthly points scheme for fish, meat, fruit or peas
It wasn't just food that was rationed during World War II. Clothing also became scarce. The war made it almost impossible to import cloth and other raw materials from abroad needed to make those fancy dresses and pretty pink frills . The clothing manufacturers in Britain had more important items to make for the war effort, such as uniforms, parachutes and other items needed in the battle against Germany.
The Start of a Shabby Country
Each person was allowed a maximum of 66 coupons per year, which was equivalent to 1 complete outfit per year.
Items that could be bought without coupons were such things as clothes for babies under 4 months old. Boiler suits, overalls and workmen's bib and brace. Hats and caps, mending wool, sewing thread, mending silk. Shoe and boot laces, tapes, braids, ribbons and other fabrics less than 3 inches in width. Elastic, lace, lace net, sanitary towels, braces, suspenders, garters, hard haberdashery, black out dyed cloth and clogs.
Indeed clogs became very fashionable because they weren't on ration.
UTILITY 1941 “Il faut SKIMP pour etre chic” (Vogue 1939)
Women now on the front line
No obvious class Lines
Fashionable and Stylish
The Utility clothing line was produced under strict regulations, the new looks were presented to the British public as not sacrificing style but as redefining style. Focusing on the cut and line of each garment, the designers of the Utility collection were praised in British Vogue in October 1942 for the clean elegance of a style stripped of all superfluities'". Utility defined the wartime silhouette as narrow and sharply defined. An attention to tailoring provided for pronounced shoulders and waists that were sharply nipped in.
Second World War: the Masses find Fashion and Glamour in the Middle of World War.
THE UTILITY SUIT
Designed by Haute Couture designers
Modelled on Middle class ladies suit
Cheap and well cut
‘ Uniformed’ Fashion for the masses
The body was highlighted with short, boxy jackets or long lean ones and hips were accentuated with slanting pockets and straight skirts with gently flared panels near the knee for movement. Hemlines were eighteen inches off the ground or just below the knee, furthering Utility's "smart yet practical" look The look the anti-fascist nation endorsed and prescribed was curiously similar to the linear and decadence
BEAUTY IS YOUR DUTY
A MIDDLE CLASS FASHION
‘ I always have designed utility’ (Hardy Amies)
Control of Use Order No 90 - 1943 prohibited the use of elastic in all garments except ladies underwear and corsets.
Government Report ‘suspicion that women are starting to enjoy the war and their new wardrobe’
Veronica-Turbans-Promise of Nylons-Utility Glamour
Glamour and Morale
Cosmetics, Lipsticks, Nylons never rationed. Used the ‘black market to mop up inflationary spending power.
Hats not rationed, became a huge fashion item
Utility fashion now mass produced with long production runs.
For most working class women utility or uniform was the best clothing they ever owned.
BUT CAN YOU TRUST THEM WITH ALL THIS FREEDOM?
Fears of women getting ‘drunk on sex’ because of men in uniform.
But did anybody care when you could be dead tomorrow?
WAR WAS A JOB
Best way to keep up morale was to try to keep as ‘normal’ as possible.
Psychiatric Hospitals emptied
Most popular questions for people dug out of bombed buildings were.
A) Where are my false teeth
B) My nylons are ruined
Huge Propaganda aimed at women
Glamour Goes to War
Lipstick never on ration.
Tangee Lipstick Lipstick will not win the war but it symbolizes one of the reasons why we are fighting this war.
For most young women life was wonderful.
But Real Life Could be Hell
London bus conductor
Wearing male uniform tied in to fit
Cold and hard work
But at last a move to trousers among working class women
IT WAS COLD WITH NO HEATING AND WORKING NIGHTS
BUT WITH THIS NEW FREEDOM AND INCOME
Young women the ‘enemy’ at home.
Government did not like people to enjoy the war: what could they do when it ended.
Huge problems with USA forces segregation
Propaganda Face of War-Time Women Workers
Was it accurate?
Were there hordes of women entering factories?
Or was it just a continuing evolution?
So , did it have any effect on change?
GOOD OLD ADOLF
I THOUGHT EVERYBODY HAD A BOMB SITE TO PLAY ON
SAVE THE CHILDREN-WELL THE MIDDLE CLASS ONES MAYBE!
‘ was there any necessity for the spoilation of decent homes and furniture, the corruption of speech and declining moral standards of our own children. (Crosby)
“ We should have concentration camps and segregated areas for evacuees from bombing” (Letter Windsor Express. Oct. 1940)
CALL TO ARMS
AS Usual the Propaganda Does not Fit Reality
But, for many Working class girls a uniform was the first set of new clothes they had ever had.
Army girls no uniform for a month to put on weight
Many turned down for the Navy and Air Force because of lack of underwear
Maureen and the raincoat!!
At First Even Women’s Forces were Class Orientated.
But, They Loved it.
Her poverty and lack of education was Shown up by War
After Female conscription into the armed forces after 1940 (500,000) the authorities were horrified by the poverty and hygiene standards of many recruits.
Hygiene Classes (Teeth)
‘ Birds and Bees’
Good Grooming Classes
But, Reality for Women with Families
Shopping for China to replace bomb damaged.
Increasingly ill fed and ground down.
What do you offer these people out of the war?
But the Blitz Photographs well.
Fashion Photo shoot for Vogue in front of bombing ruins.
More a Morale boost than an actual sales pitch
Advert for Clarke’s Shoes. “ It would be dreadful if every woman went to war”
Practical clothing takes off in some areas but not so in others
Apart from health care what did the war give to women.
1) Opportunity to show courage
2) Opportunity to take responsibility
3) A view of another way to live life with good grooming and mass fashion.
4) Excitement, being valued by society and a break from hard grind.
Ordinary women taken to extraordinary heights by being allowed to rise to the occasion.
Those Girls and Their Flying Machines
Not allowed to fly armed aircraft or aircraft in action.
Female ferry pilots actually had the record for types of planes flown.
“ The poor are poor because they smoke too much, drink too much and fornicate too much”
That may be true but the working class were never going to go back to a pre-war condition of no healthcare and high maternal mortality.
Churchill at the cinema
Hanna Reitsch The Greatest Pilot of all?
Great supporter of Hitler
Flew the V1 Bomb
Personal Pilot to head of Luftwaffe
Last plane in and out of Berlin
Vera Atkins Ruthless Spymaster.
Ran F Section of SOE
The brains and power of the unit.
Sent people to their deaths
Refused to give up on final destinations of her people.
Left a legacy for others
AND CHANGE OF VIEWS
“ Looking at 1948, I might have desperately wanted and got a dress like I saw on the pictures or like Princess Margaret’s new one. But, this did not mean that I did not view the Royal family as a bunch of parasites or that we, the working class, deserved attractive clothes and glamorous dresses a million times more than them.
PARIS Pre War and Post War
No milk and 40,000 francs for a dress.
Broke country needing to sell abroad and raise France from the ashes.
Fashion saved from being moved to Germany
JUSTICE PREVAILED?? (That is if the Allies did not want you)
Note the ‘innocent gentleman on the right (Speer)
Why William Joyce?
One Small Step for Man and D.O.R.A.
SPOT THE NAZI
London (1948) Austerity, Rationing and Bomb Sites
All rationing until 1953/4
No Nylon for stockings. (Pledge of Nylon stockings in election broadcasts)
A drab, poor exhausted nation without even the excitement of war .