Tuesday, 3 August 2010

A Century Of Style: The Challenge (1940-1950)


Here's today's style challenge, my tribute to the Thrifty Forties, a decade of wartime imposed frugality. In the grip of the Second World War the British were urged to be thrifty and to make do and mend.  Women patched their pre-war suits , darned their frocks and converted their husband's worn-out trousers into serviceable skirts. Wedding dresses were lent out time and time again until eventually being remade into underwear. Salvaged parachutes were also refashioned into underwear.


Due to a nylon scarcity, ladies were encouraged to wear ankle socks or to paint their legs with gravy browning with a hand-drawn line up the back of the leg to give the impression of seamed stockings.
Many women worked in factories and on the land, so hair, now worn to shoulder length or longer, was pinned up at the front in reverse Victory rolls and the back was tied up in a turban or crocheted snood.

Due to the dirt in factories the wearing of make-up was actively encouraged, pancake foundation and powder acting as a barrier to the airborne nasties. Women working in munitions factories often had skin that had gone canary yellow from the chemicals. Lipstick was generally a vibrant red (or Boots' Gay Geranium, a shade still produced today) and eyeliner was worn on the upper eye only. Max Factor was a popular make-up brand of the era.

Austin Reed of Regent Street skirt suit (Car boot sale), Plummer Rhodes swing coat (Inherited from my Grandmother), Modern Wood wedges (TopShop), Leather Gladstone bag (Jumble Sale), Enamel clip earrings (Charity shop)


Due to neither substance being a rationed commodity, shoes often had wood or cork wedges. Despite the severity of the war years colour was popular, vibrant corals and reds were a popular clothing choice if material was available.

Apologies for the grumpy face, I couldn't get my hair right last night so it was a quick photo shoot at the crack of dawn instead.

44 comments:

  1. Really enjoyed this post. I find the 40s fascinating and you've given me a few more insights into that time.
    Your hair this morning is fantastic. x

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  2. I love how you're actually explaining each decade as well, not just getting dressed up & taking pics.

    I like this one - your hair looks great & I'm loving that coat :)

    www.heart-shaped-bruise.blogspot.com

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  3. This was very well written and your outfit really does complement everything :D That's including your hair! Interesting post on such a fascinating era ;)

    Pocket Philosopher

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  4. "Grumpy face"? I thought you were just getting into the spirit of such a hard life! The ankle socks/lines drawn up back of legs was an interesting bit of information...

    Have you worn that beautiful pink coat before? It really attracted my attention.

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  5. Your hair looks wonderful, another completley different style.
    Again I didn't really know much about this fashion era at all, particurlalry interesting about the wedding dresses being re-used. xx

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  6. Fab hair Vix, love the victory rolls on you.
    Laughed at your grumpy face, thought it was getting into the spirit of the time.

    I don't want these to end, really look forward to them.

    xx

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  7. Hi Vix, I love these posts! Hope you have a great day xxx

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  8. Ha ha, yes you do look a bit shitty! But then hair is an annoying thing, and 40s hairstyling is notoriously difficult. Great challenge, you're one of the few who could pull it off. May I say I think the 30s is the one you've done best so far. Keep up the good work.x.

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  9. Hi there-very authentic in style and attitude, another wonderful post which sums up the era perfectly my dear-what a gorgeous suit!!

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  10. Like how you are working this challenge and the pics are wonderful. I have a handicraft book printed 1940 and it has so many ideas on details for clothes and how to change old to new. Like someone said, need is the mother of inventions and war its father.

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  11. The 40s are one of my favourite eras for clothes and styling, and your outfit does it justice, Vix. The hairdo looks spot on and I hope it wasn't an uncomfortable night if you slept with curlers and hair pins in!

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  12. Cork or wood wedges are very me. But the 40s is not my thing. Probably being born in the Fifties I just see it as old-fashioned....

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  13. This was so interesting, Vix! I love how you shared the history with us, I knew about painting legs but not about the cork-soled shoes or makeup brands. You look so lovely and classy, the hair looks fabulous! XO!

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  14. I am thinking of saving this material 'coz I am learning so much about history and 'reasons' for styles and fashion. And grumpy face? I thought you were just channeling the hardship those women might have faced. Actress by chance, then? huh? :o) Lovely Post!

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  15. Love the victory rolls and the pop of colour from the coat!

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  16. One of my favourite style eras - mainly because I've got some pics of my Grandma from that time. The red lipstick wearing is something I've inherited from her :)

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  17. this is period of my grandparent's youth... all the photos they took are balck and white, so i just can't imagine them 'in color'.... love your fashion trip through decades! can't wait next post!!!

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  18. Love the post and your hair looks great.
    Dx

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  19. As i said before i was looking forward to this post and you didn't dissapoint. I can't wait for the 50's! x

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  20. Very cool. I didn't know about painting their legs with the gravy browning... wonder how time consuming that was!

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  21. I wouldn't call it a grumpy face, Vix! I'd say it could be elegantly grim, to suit the mood of the war and post-war years!

    Loving this challenge, you're fantastic and your repertoire of clothing is astonishing!

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  22. I adore the color of your coat and your hair is perfection!! It looks like your got it right to me :)

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  23. *you ^

    P.S. You look beautiful, you should see my face in the morning :/

    haha :)

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  24. The coat color is fabulous and was this skirt converted from pants like they did in this era?? Like this hairstyle - looks really complicated:-)

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  25. Hi Vix, how in the world did you manage the Victory rolls?! Your hair is quite stunning and period. Most of all I love that coat!

    Btw, did you know that Max Factor has pulled their product off the shelves in the US? You can only find their cosmetics online but they are still available on the shelves in Europe.

    I can't wait to see what you will do for the 60s. Will you be a mod or rocker or maybe channel your inner hippie? Oh, and you didn't look grumpy to me, I thought you were emoting!

    xo Bonnie

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  26. Looking fab, the hair is great, I have tried victory rolls but can't pull it off like you do. I am loving these posts and can't wait to see tomorrow's post.
    Kandi x

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  27. Foiles War Doll! A wonderful decade given the hardship xx

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  28. I'm loving these posts! Great photography skills too. I remember my nan having a coat just like that in her wardrobe. She kept everything. Looking forward to tomorrow's post. Lynda xxx

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  29. I had a very similar coat to that (but in lime green) a few years ago that I loved. Until I saw a photograph of myself in it, and I then threw it away!! Should add that you look lovely in yours. Loving your photography effects today, too. xx

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  30. You look so elegant! The coat is lovely! And I think you hair looks perfect :) glad you waited!

    Lou x - craftyandquriky.blogspot.com

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  31. Woah, this is a fantastic project Vix, i'm checking the rest out right now!
    xx

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  32. You know so much about history of fashion! I am amazed how your doing your hair!!! xxx

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  33. Very nice color of your coat.. The shoes are pretty aswell.. Nice taste as always =)

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  34. Very well done and the hair is not right? I think it's perfect! :)

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  35. You did a FAB job on the hair!!!A fab job on the whole look!!!
    Aw,you don't look so shitty!You look gorgeous as always!!!
    LOVE HelgaxxxXXXxxx

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  36. I love this one and you as well :)

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  37. Again you look fabulous. Again so darned interesting! LOVE this challenge. You are so cool.

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  38. I love this! The details thrill me to no end. I love this information. I am a history nut shell. You totally nailed it! I love this pink color on you. I think your expression fits the times too. You go girl!

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  39. Fashion history fascinates me to no end. I love this post!! I'm so impressed by the creativity these forties women used in order to be fashionable and thrifty.

    And your outfit is perfect. Don't worry about the grumpy face. I have no doubt your expression was a common sight in that decade! LOL! ;)

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  40. Your hair looks fabulous! It IS fascinating to read these posts. I've learnt so much from you, Vix! You're providing a fashion service here! x

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  41. Not my fave, but the pink coat is fabulous. Can't wait to see you hit the '60s and '70s. xx
    http://www.weshopthereforeweare.co.uk/

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  42. I thought you were being very authentic with the face. Again just love it!! xx

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  43. I think this outfit has a very Vivienne Westwood feel to it.

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