During the WWII, the War Production Board was developed. The War Production Board was a government institution which controlled the management of many necessities such as food and clothes (“War Production Board”, 2016). One of the first clothes material that was to be controlled was silk, which was utilized at 30 million lbs per year prior to this (“8 Facts About Clothes Rationing in Britain During the Second World War”, 2016). Instead of silk people began to utilize rayon and cotton. Nylon was also regulated during the wartime since it was widely worn as hosiery but it soon became a material unique only to the war.
Because of the L85 Order restrictions were put on the amount of material that could be utilized and for what purpose, and due to this there were many adjustments made to fashion (Sundin 2011). For instance, it was a new law for skirts to be shorter in order to save on the amount of fabric used. Many producers transitioned their products to women’s taste because menswear had grown to be unvarying. Cotton came to be the primary material used in everyone’s clothing and blended fabric were now being utilized for the leftover fibers. Cotton was the single material that didn’t have to be traded during this era since our nation was the top producer of it, to begin with.
Particularly, England was the country where everything was rationed. “Make-Do and Mend” was their motto, heartening people not to squander and lavish anything so everyone can have a hand in supporting the war efforts. During the same time in Paris though the business of stylish fashion kept going on. However, after the war’s ending, designers created new styles that targeted primarily young adults and teenagers. These new styles focused on improved “static silhouettes and mixed fabrics” which were much creative than it could have ever been due to the experience from make-do and mend (“1940s Fashion – Womens Dress Style After the War”, 2010). There were new fabrics that emerged including “acrylic, polyester, triacetate, and spandex” (Pritchard 2016).
The new mother of fashion and style was now Claire McCardell with her notable transitions from “wartime styles into what became the emblematic American sportswear style” (“Fashion In The 1940s: Clothing Styles, Trends, Pictures & History”, 2016). McCardell developed the cloistered dress which was fully unshaped and loose-fitting, held constant by thin strings. The popover dress which was another popular style during this era was a dress you could just wear on top of anything you’re already wearing while completing some work. During the same era, Christian Dior was creating a completely new style in Paris by “utilizing extra padding to hold together the shape, putting the focus on the waist once again, and utilizing fabric in excessively” (Hoschek, 2011) which became the prominent style of many for the upcoming years.
As can be seen, although WWII was an unfortunate era where many went through turmoils due to the shortage of many materials, it was also a time where creativity and imagination played a huge role in our style during that era. If it wasn’t for rationing and the make-do and mend set of mind, Claire McCardell and Christian Dior probably wouldn’t have come up with the great ideas they had.