I have a 1940s themed birthday party coming up! In light of this breaking news, let us reflect...
The 40s saw the end of the Second World War, a war whose effects were felt by not only those fighting on the frontlines, but also those at home. In 1941 Great Britain imposed a rationing system limiting and controlling the direction of resources vital to the war effort. America followed suit in 1942, with the limiting of, among other things, the amount of fabric that could be used in a single garment. Materials including wool, silk, leather and a fledgling DuPont Corp. invention called nylon were diverted for use in uniforms, parachutes, shoelaces and even bomber noses.
Rising hemlines, lower necklines and clothing free of superfluous embellishments as cuffs and pleats reflected the government's policy of frugality and efficiency in the interest of a well equipped defence force. Nylon scarcity meant that stockings were a precious commodity, and women got creative by using leg make-up that gave the impression of pantyhose. This also included drawing lines down the back of their calves to mimic pantyhose seams.
I came across an article from the WW2 weekly 'Yank Magazine' for US troops serving abroad, called 'Clothing and the War' which you can read here. It's a funny little read, but beware of the (mildly) sexist vernacular - have at you gender supremacists!
Apparently the toes of shoes were made wider during this period as the toils of war labour had made both men and women's feet wider. Tasty! Some other unglamorous ramifications of the war rationing was the substitution of cotton for nylon/silk in the making of women's pantyhose; cotton apparently made women's 'gams' look dumpy. On top of battling bulky hosiery, women were also now bulging from under their buttons due to a scarcity of zippers. Shirt tails on men's button ups were shorter, pajama legs and arms were reduced and underwear was nowhere to be found! Oh dismay. Sounds like there were a whole lot of adult men and women running about and working for the war machine whilst wearing clothes that made them look like confused teenagers going through the puberty blues growth spurts. However, this was clearly not the reality for those living in that super-reality - SHOWBIZ.
Presenting, women of the 'Golden Age':