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When one remembers the era of the Second World War, what strikes our thought apart from the various battles, invasions a Flipbook PDF

When one remembers the era of the Second World War, what strikes our thought apart from the various battles, invasions a


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World War II

The influence of World War 2 on fashion and the emergence of new styles. How the war created a permanent mark on the future fashion styles.

Anisha Bhat I Sophomore B

When one remembers the era of the Second World War, what strikes our thought apart from the various battles, invasions and other major occurrences, is the fascinating sense of fashion which existed even during the times of such crisis. The styles which emerged during this era were primarily a depiction of the kind of life which the people were experiencing at the time. These styles left an everlasting mark on the future of fashion and became a source of inspiration for several looks to come. The styles which evolved during this time changed evidently due to the many impediments imposed during the war. The effect was not only found on the kind of fabrics they used but also on the way they styled themselves. The designers during this period opted for styles which were simplistic in nature and made them a comfortable option for the people.

The uniforms of the war were designed in such a way that they provided greater protection and better blending with the background, making it easier for the army. This was also the time which led to thedevelopment of camouflage. The British uniforms focused on giving more freedom to the wearer and at the same time served the purpose of being a utilitarian clothing. They wore waist length jackets which consisted of two pockets on the chest in a “blouson” design. They also wore gaiters which which could be wrapped around the bottom of the trousers and fastened by two buckles. Peacked caps were largely replaced by berets in this era, which were either black or khaki. Leather belts and straps were replaced by woven fabric.

Uniforms in the Second World War

British Unifroms

Camouflage was a great addition to the army uniforms at this point but was not fully utilized by them. The first camouflaged cloth was used in 1929, when it was introduced to be used in tents. One year later, the Germans used the same idea and replicated it on clothing. This was the birth of camouflaged uniforms. Soon the idea of camouflage became prevalent in the other forces as well. The use of camouflage on the runway includes a modernised version of biker shorts and fringed shirt with the print, providing a cool overall look. The blazer adds a formal touch to the military inspired print. It gives a whole lot of an athleisure look to the camouflage.

Use of Camouflage in war

Modern version of Camouflage

The American uniform came in two colours, khaki and olive drab. A combination of both would also be used b y them. However, they yet had to upgrade their uniforms for which they decided to go with a lightweight yet waterproof material. These uniforms were superior to the ones which others had. This uniform was later developed further where it had a drawstring waist and a hood which could be buttoned at the neck for extra protection against the cold. It consisted of larger pockets where they could keep all of their ammunition and food. The American Uniform

During world war 2, millions of women wore uniforms. These included women in various forces with different uniforms, each serving its purpose and reflecting the roles played by them. British women played a much important role in warfare than the women from other countries. Many worked as nurses or undertook clerical jobs whereas the others were on the warfield. Both of these had women wearing uniforms of that particular job. American women mostly did clerical and administrative duties. Women’s uniforms in the US army were very stylish and well tailored. They used to wear a knee length skirt and a two pocket tunic over a shirt and tie with a peaked or side cap. Their ranks were determined by the epaulettes worn on their tunics. Uniforms based on ranks and jobs

Uniforms for clerical and administrative services

A collection portraying the spirit of the women who faught in the second world war through public spirit and their heroic values. Nurses, uniforms and navy were some of the major aspects of the collection, dating back to the wartime with silhouettes representing functional and protective clothing with modern touch to it. Feminine, utilitarian and inspirational, these pieces take us back to the era of the war and reflect its presence through these outfit.

Collection inspired by World war 2 uniforms

Clothing styles in the 1940s Utilitarian clothing essentially formed the basis of style in this era. Men and women had to wear garments which not just provided comfort but also ease in moving around, facilitating them to do their jobs. For women, the ideal body shape was supposed to be strong, tall with broad shoulders, which would be able to pull off any utility clothing, work wear or uniforms.

The scarcity of resources led to the creation of garments which were had limited number of features but were still made to be stylish, adhering to the rules imposed. Overalls, headscarves, dungarees and all types of comfortable clothing came under the “war works” category. These were specially designed for the people who worked at the factories.

To create stronger appearance for women, they used to have padded shoulders in their garment. Hemlines which rise to the knee or just above or below existed. The want to feel strong and in control was needed. Fitted waistlines and tapered skirts made the silhouettes look more feminine. This kind of clothing came under the utility category and yet saved the amount of fabric used. However, on one hand, clothing was slimmed down; on the other hand, they made use of elaborate hats and hairstyles to balance out the entire look. Strong silhouettes were made to look more appealing by adding sweetheart necklines, slinky fabric and ruching. Peplums helped in balancing out the broad shoulders.

The modern adaptations of this style on the runway included the slimming down of the silhouette and focusing on broader and stronger shoulders which provided a powerful look which is yet very feminine. This look, also very much inspired from the 40s, was derived with a bit of a modern touch and adjustments made to it.

To make these garments further interesting, bold prints were added to them as acquiring twills was difficult at the time. Patriotism also became a fashion trend. The colours and styles chosen also somehow represented the land they were fighting for. In the US, people followed the colour palette of red, blue and white and wore shirts with stripes and stars to create an aspect of patriotism.

“Make, Do and Mend” ”: a very popular aspect of the war where in the rationing being less in terms of clothing had to be compromised by surviving in the clothes one would already have and repair it in case it was torn or damaged. They also followed a few creative ways in which they could upgrade their wardrobes by creating new outfits out of existing ones.

Zoot Suits

The Zoot Suits were primarily worn by Latin men in Los Angeles. It was majorly scandalous and caused multiple riots. Men who wore uniforms would locate zoot suiters and beat them down. They claimed that they had multiple reasons to do so but the most prominent one was the racial conflict which existed between them and fashion was just an excuse for it. Zoot Suits were a trend basically followed by Afro American and Mexican American men which consisted of wide legged pants and long coats. With super sized shoulder pads, stretched out lapels and peg leg pants, the zoot suits played a vital role in the Second World War. Due to many restrictions imposed on the rationing during wartime, the act of wearing such suits was considered to be highly disobedient and treasonous. Using this as their justification, the men in uniforms tagged the zoot suiters as unpatriotic and rebellious. This led to them being beaten down by police officers.

The recreation of the “zoot suit” giving it a much more youthful and rebellious look. With extra long, oversized silhouettes, these looks made a bold statement with a modern twist to the zoot suit. These looks added extravagance to the existing suits and glorified the so called “unpatriotic” zoot suit wearers from the Second World War.

Siren suit

The “siren suit” was an all in one easy to wear garment which could be worn by the civilians if they had to escape to an outdoor shelter. Some of these suits had a stylish edge to them with puffed shoulders, bell bottom cuffs and a fitted hood. Some of them also consisted of a detachable belt. These were mostly made for women. These siren suits were very popular during wartime and were heavily advertised by different retailers. The siren suit, which bears resemblance to what could be called a ‘onesie’ in today’s time, was a practical one-piece item of clothing originally designed by Sir Winston Churchill during the Second World War. He himself owned a variety of siren suits, which he referred to as ‘romper suits,’ including sombre, military style suits, as well as more extravagant pin-striped and velvet versions.

Modern adaptations of the siren suit include jumpsuits portrayed by designers such as Zimmerman and Balmain which have recreated the style and in their own distinct ways. Paired up with scarves, belts and other embellishments, both the themes stand out in the recreations.

The use of Denim in creating another iteration of the siren suit with a modernized edge to it leads to the development of a slouchy militaristic outfit created mainly to depict work wear.

Utility Scheme

Post World War 2, the British people no longer had the will to comply with the ideals of “Make Do and Mend” due to which multiple advertisements started promoting new styles and fashion ideals. This was the time when superior quality clothing came into existence and people started experimenting with multiple styles.

The utility scheme came into existence which reduced the range of clothing available to the people. It mainly focused efforts into producing textiles which could be worn and cleaned easily. This led to the improvement of the ready to wear clothing in Britain. In this scheme, the clothing prices were increased due to the availability of supplies. With such issues, women found it difficult to obtain clothes with high quality and good material. There were also many restrictions imposed on the types of clothing which were worn by the men. Double breasted suits were taken over by single breasted ones. The number of pockets and even the lapel size were restricted. The length of men’s shirt was restricted and double cuffs were banned.

As female workforce increased, majority of them started wearing wide legged slacks rather than a dress or a skirt as it provided more comfort and ease. Eventually, these pants were worn more often and transitioned into pant suits. Today, women’s clothing still consists of square shoulders, jackets and skirts which were popular in the 1940s. Utilitarian clothing is now designed to create a vintage look. Men used to wear muted colours at the time of war. Vests, trouser cuffs and pocket flaps started declining as shirts and trousers made out of twill and gabardine became more popular. Suits are still considered to be a suave and elegant outfit to wear to formal events.

Trench coats started gaining a prominence in Hollywood during the war. Many of the leading actors were seen wearing and popularising it. These roles usually depicted power and status and made the trenchcoat even more enviable and desired among the people. With a hint of style and abundance of function, the trench coat became even more popular among the people as it was demanded by many of them.

Today, the trench coat continues to be a fashion staple and is seen on the runway with its various adaptations. Burberry continues to be the leader in the production of its iconic trenchcoats. From military wear to a stylish and powerful garment, the trenchcoat continues to be one of the most desired fashion garments.

Conclusion Fashion during the Second World War focused more on comfort than on aesthetics. Utilitarian clothing was popularized during this era. Practicality played a vital role because of the heavy restriction on rationing and huge enthusiasm towards patriotism. Today it’s not uncommon to see men who wear suits and slacks to create a look which could be categorized as high fashion. Bomber jackets, trench coats, aviator glasses are some of the clothing trends which originated in World War II and have become trends today.