Wednesday, 22 July 2015

WHAT TO WEAR DURING WARTIME: 'FASHION ON THE RATION'

EXHIBITION REVIEW

BY: MALLORY HORRILL

Greetings my rabid museum exhibit fans! Last week I spent a delightful day at the Imperial War Museum in London where I had the pleasure of viewing the exhibition ‘Fashion on the Ration’.

Britain, 1940
Source:http://www.iwm.org.uk/corporate/privacy-copyright/licence
It was a lovely afternoon. The exhibit itself was not very large, only spanning a handful of rooms. One walks through the rooms viewing display cases filled with WWII outfits and accessories that were worn by men, women and children during the war.

The exhibit showcases military dress, the practice of mending and refashioning clothing, the rage of knitting, attire for wartime weddings, utility clothing, the implementation of sturdier fabrics, clothing coupons, and specific trends that sprung up around the war like patriotic scarves

1943 British Poster
Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/29163
As a fan of fashion and material culture history, I was enchanted by the exhibition. However, I did observe that not all visitors were as fascinated as myself. I think the cause of this is two part; the first being that fashion is not an appealing subject for everyone (but there’s no accounting for taste). The second reason, which rests on the first, is that visitors who are already not too keen on the topic of clothing seem less motivated to read the panels and therefore do not receive the information about the specific clothing. It is difficult to attract the attention of visitors that are already not sold on the topic on display. Perhaps period music or video of advertisements could help to spice up the subject for these guests. What do you think? 

Enjoy these wartime fashion tips I learned throughout the exhibition:

1.   In lieu of blush and lipstick beetroot juice was used to stain lips and cheeks a cheerful rosy hue
2.   As nylon was being rationed for the manufacture of parachutes women drew lines up the back of     their legs to give the appearance of wearing stockings 
3.   Boot polish was used as a substitute for mascara 
4.   When the colder weather came old blankets could be restructured into smart wintertime dresses
5.   Department stores like Selfridges came out with handbags that had a special compartment to hold gas masks
6.   Many crafted their own jewelry from spare materials such as unusable parts from munitions factories
7.   Department stores sold luminous accessories for safety and visibility during blackouts
  • Ladies handbag with respirator compartment
    Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/30016115

2 comments:

  1. Great article! I am so excited that you went to see this exhibit. (And more than somewhat jealous.) Like you, I am very interested in fashion and wouldn't need much encouragement to go. But you mention that many were less enthused. This surprises me somewhat. I would have thought fashion would be a much more popular topic than it appears to be from your observations. I wonder in what ways did the Museum try to instil fascination? Were there any interactives or interpretive materials? Did the exhibit ever pose any questions to the visitor? Were there personal stories?

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  2. Girls fashion and their age are always inversely proportional. You have fantastic stuff on this blog that keep the girls young and beautiful with you fashion tips. Being a fashion artist I really appreciate your efforts and work.
    Love from Royal Lady

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