It was just Remembrance Day. The day to remember and honor all who sacrificed so much during those hard years.
This has made me contemplate life at that time. The lifestyle, the music, the fashions and the lingerie situation during the war years. Every aspect of human existence was impacted by war, including lingerie.
The major influence on all clothing, during the war, was the rationing of most products including fabrics. There was a small variety of fabrics available, to begin with, and most of them were being used in the war efforts. The most obvious being wools and cottons used for uniforms. The most popular fabric used for lingerie at the time was silk and it was being used in massive quantities for parachutes. It was rationed and saved for military use. Nylon was later perfected for use as a replacement for silk in parachutes. Some nylon and rayon were also used in lingerie manufacturing.
Bras of the day were called “utility bras” and were functional, durable and simple. They were often made in cotton mostly of a soft pink shade. If you happened to be in the military, a utility bra was part of your military issue uniform.
Women turned to making their own lingerie out of necessity. Bras were often not available to buy except by special order and who had money for that anyway. Foundation garment manufacturers started to manufacture tents and parachutes in order to stay in business, so could only make their lingerie by special order.
The catch phrase in England was “make do and mend”. Women were inspired to make their own garments from old clothing, wedding gowns, and hand me downs. If a parachute was discarded or found it was a prize to be used for many things including bras and panties.
This was such a terrible time in history yet I can’t help being charmed by the fashions of the era including the lingerie. The 1940’s continue to be one of my favorite fashion eras and always will.
Owner/Designer & Fashion Consultant
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