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Clothing in World War II

November 28, 2017

We've all seen the (mostly) black and white photographs of people in the 1940s, but when I'm writing a story, I want you, my reader, to have an image in your mind of how my main characters are dressed. 


In one scene, Renata, my heroine, borrows a dress for a fancy ball. I found the perfect dress for her on Pinterest, and here it is:


"She collected her bead-encrusted evening bag and headed to the door. She wore a gown borrowed from a friend of Sofia's, a sheer golden silk with cap sleeves, piped with the thinnest imaginable black velvet. The gold lamé gathered from the waist and tied around her neck, halter style, with a wide black velvet ribbon... She felt like a film star for an evening. She imagined stardust swirling around her as she twirled the gold skirt, sprinkled with black flocking in the shape of bows." - Ann Griffin, Another Ocean to Cross.






Her mother needs a gown, too, so I describe this lovely red silk in my book: 



"Lea, beaming, wore a borrowed French evening dress in red silk velvet. The square neckline and ruching suited her mature figure, as did the diamond and sapphire necklace..." - Ann Griffin, Another Ocean to Cross.


(Above: from The Met. Below: The Chicago History Museum.)


Other fascinating facts about clothing 1939-1945: In Britain, clothing was rationed. The shortage of fabric and new clothes forced the citizens to be creative. Many women cut off the hems of their dresses, and used the strips of cloth to make clothes for babies and children. The resulting short hemlines, although shocking, were accepted as part of the war effort.


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