Women’s Fashion During World War Two

The year the Second World War broke out in Europe—1939—also marked the introduction of the world’s first true artificial fiber, Nylon!

Nylon was introduced at the World’s Fair in New York City.  During those years, fashion fluctuated as chaotically as the war—from exhilarating new innovations to the price controls and rationing that came with the war.  Such shortages were in fact sometimes the impetus behind new developments.  For instance, rubber and leather shortages forced shoemakers to consider using wood and cork soles—creating the ever-stylish Platform shoe.


War Production Board guidelines for  garment manufacture and "The Suit that Won Bond" 1942

Women’s clothing saw dramatic changes, influenced both by wartime shortages and women’s new roles outside of the home.  “Make Do And Mend” advice centered around reusing fabric: even men’s suits were recut into women’s suits and as women became more encouraged to wear trousers more regularly for work and leisure.  Shoulder pads also became the “it” thing in all women’s garments!


Although governments issued strict fabric construction guidelines and rationing measures, European women managed to stay fashionable through the war effort.


For more interesting details on the utility clothing scheme employed by the leading designers click here.