War and Dress: Accessories

With all the restrictions on fashion, women resorted to accentuating their look by using accessories such as stylish hats and shoes to complete and outfit. In the United States not only did the L-85 order put restrictions on clothing but the L-217 limited resources for footwear. Because leather was a scarce necessity, there were six colors permitted for women's shoes and no more than two colors could be used to make a single pair. Certain styles such as oxfords and pumps were made from wood, cork, rope, or plastic and varied in shape and texture.

War and Dress collectionAnother popular accessory was millinery, which added an element of decoration and personality to restricted dress. Most of the hats were made with exaggerated crowns that emphasized height or unique brims that added mystery to feminine beauty. Often hats were accessorized with recycled fabric, veils, curls, bows, jewelry, and fur. Materials such as yarn and twine were used in place of wool, which was rationed during the 1940's. Some extremists of the war effort even wore a gas mask that was carried around in their purse!

War and Dress collectionScarves in the 1940's became a staple piece for any ensemble, not only for style, but for patriotism. Woman often wore scarves that had printed images of important events and dates which depicted wartime propaganda. Phrases like "Into Battle" and "The King Owns" were printed on backgrounds of colored guns, crests, and miscellaneous symbols of World War II. The wearer of these scarves not only looked fashionable but also represented her allegiance to the war effort.

Since there were limitations on silk, scarves were generally made from rayon; however, this did not mean that silk was not used at all. Scarves were also popular amongst women in the workforce, who used them as turbans or snoods to secure their hair and prevent it from getting in the way of machinery. Rosie the Riveter was a popular wartime symbol that heavily influenced this accessory.

Fashion Collection at Lasell College

  • Fashion Collection at Lasell College
  • Fashion Collection at Lasell College
  • Fashion Collection at Lasell College

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