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Category Archives: Fashion

A Rainy Day, Beauty for Duty & a Snood to make

It’s a rainy day here today – more like tigers and elephants than cats and dogs – my downstairs laundry is flooding, and the pool has overfilled. It’s definitely too wet to go out and get groceries, so I am making do rather than stocking up.  The ox-tail stew is simmering, and the vegies for tomorrows ‘Woolton Pie,’ and I just made the family fried bacon and potatoes for lunch. 

I’ve just finished a wonderful book on WWII and the homefront (Readers Digest), and now am continuing watching ‘Coal House at war’ on youtube (with headphones so I can hear over the rain and thunder), and hoping the power won’t go out. Again. Episode 5 is interesting, with the debate over rabbit for dinner, and the women treating themselves to a mobile hairdresser and doing their bit of ‘Duty for Beauty.’  Women were encouraged to wear cheery lipstick and look pretty for their, and other, men – although lipstick and powder had to be used sparingly, and perms were frowned upon as a waste of chemicals and energy, resulting in women looking at other ways to curl their hair.  

Image 1942

‘Victory rolls’ became popular, as women could do them with pipe cleaners rather than the hard to buy bobby pins (as metal was needed for the war effort), and the style kept hair off the face, important for war work and housework.  And the style could last a few days, looking nice for going out Saturday night and at church on Sunday, and then the back caught up in a scarf or snood for the working week. 


This snood has a bow for a bit of extra glam, but it can be made without. This pattern is from the March 1942 issue of the Australian Women’s Weekly.





So now I just have to remember how to crochet! In the meantime, I might just order one from the lovely Miss Chrissy at the Lindy Charm School for Girls.

Of course the other V-rolls were for the back of the hair, and made famous by Veronica Lake in the movie So Proudly We Hail! (1943) , who was at the peak of her career and popularity at the time of this film’s release.  During the war many female army nurses an even factory workers emulated her famous peekaboo hairstyle, something that caused a bit of a safety issue, and Lake herself chose to change the style to a more practical one for this film. You can see the video looking at this hairstyle here, and this is  a still from the video showing the finished style. It really looks like a V!Image

You can buy a special hair sponge to create this look easily, from here.

If you try out victory rolls or a snood, let me know!


The Latest Fashions from Hollywood, January 1942

Brights were big in 1942 – Peggy Moran exposes her midriff in a red ensemble featuring bright hibiscus flowers, and Arleen Wheelan wears a dress in a modern paisley fabric.



Claire Dodd wears a cute little floral playsuit, while  Nancy Kelly accessorizes her pale grey dress with a vibrant striped silk turban and matching handbag.


I love the white sandals – and if i had a midriff to show off, I would certainly wear the playsuit and the red outfit now. What about you?

1940s Factory Fashions

We know that during WWII women had to do their bit.  Not only at home, but by joining up or working in factories, such as those that produced uniforms, bombs, ammunition and even aircraft.  There were many propaganda posters urging women to get involved in factory work.


WWII propaganda poster for women to work        WWII propaganda poster for women to work

And for those already working, there were posters to encourage the right type of clothing.

WWII propaganda poster to encourage the right type of clothing       WWII propaganda poster to encourage the right type of clothing

Of course hair had to be tied back, or even better hidden under a scarf, Rosie riveter style.  Actress Veronica Lake even made a propaganda movie about tying back her hair for the war effort.  And overalls or siren suits were also worn.

   fashion for female workers during WWII

Simple, sturdy, and affordable shoes were needed.

Women at work on bomber, Douglas Aircraft Company, Long Beach, Calif.
Women at work on bomber, Douglas Aircraft Company, Long Beach, Calif.   Source

Low heeled Oxford shoes, sometimes with the two toned black and white or brown and white design or as above in two different materials, were popular, as were loafers (se below).  They were even worn with skirts,  often with low white socks.  They laced up and so supported the foot, making them ideal for everyday wear.  Low heeled Mary Jane style shoes were also a staple.  A single strap across the foot made them more secure than pumps, and chunky lowish heel had been common for several decades.  Leather was rationed during the war so new shoes were made of fabric, mesh and raffia.

fashion for female workers during WWII

Off duty women could wear sandals, pumps. wedges and peep-toe shoes, but these would not have been considered suitable for factory work.

fashion for female workers during WWII

Of course some women would have worn boots, much like those worn by men in uniform.

Oh, how they must have been dreaming of something like these:

 1940's Black and Acrylic Slingbacks, Size 5-5.5

Check out etsy for great vintage 40s  shoes, or go to Remix for an amazing range of vintage reproduction shoes to die for.

(Part of an article previously published at my other blog, Mid-Century Love)

Fashion for the Business Girl, January 1941

You can see by these illustrations that although the wartime silhouette had made it to Australia by 1941, we didn’t yet have fabric rationing – the shoulders are gathered and the pockets are large, and there are also lots of buttons……


Fashion forecast, 1942

Do your thoughts turn to fashion at the end of the year? “What will we be wearing next year”,  or “what can I do to spruce up my wardrobe”? During the war years women planned their wardrobes ahead, making what they needed, improving last years models where they could.  Here are some ideas from December 1941.




The Perfect Victory Gardening Outfit

I found this fashion advice in the October 1943 Australian Women’s Weekly –

“While you are digging in your victory garden wear this cool frock in tricolor gingham, with an effectively simple crossover bodice buttoned  at the side and youthful drindl skirt.  Defy the sun with a whopping green coolie hat.”



A drindl skirt is basically just a full gathered skirt with a tight waistband – sort of peasant style.  There is a super simple tutorial for one here.

The bodice could just be edged gingham draped and buttons and button holes added. the closest pattern I have been able to find is this one (available on Etsy for $85 – it is rare, after all).



Asian coolie hats are readily available, but if you want one with more vintage style, here is a simple pattern from 1936 – think Arlena Stuart in Agatha Christie’s Evil Under the Sun (see a short video here). 



It’s on my holiday list to make!

“Fashion” ideas for 1939

One of the hints during wartime austerity was to sew your own clothes. ‘Fashion’ magazine from October 1939 was filled with ideas for the home sewer, with mail order patterns cheaply available – the equivalent of about $4.25, about half the price of a modern pattern. Image 

“Victory Garden” touches for hats, 1943

Following from my look at Victory Gardens, here is a cute article about Hollywood stars decorating their hats in ‘Victory Garden style”.  Dress and outfits may have been plain because of the war and rationing, but hats were an excuse to go crazy, using bits and prices to transform old favourites into new master-pieces!


From the Australian Women’s Weekly, May 1943.

Using odd bits and pieces for fashion, 1942

During the war fabric was rationed in Australia as well as in the war zone – it was needed ‘for our boys’ – silk for parachutes, drill for uniforms and wool for overcoats.  Women not only ‘made do and mended’, they became creative in using the bits and pieces of fabric they had to make new garments, with with patchwork, or in creations like these.


Australian Women’s Weekly, October 1942 



The Khaki Cup – Melbourne Cup 1941


Despite the war, the cup went on. In 1941 every man, and we hope woman, in uniform was admitted free to Flemington on the day. For many it was there one and only time attending the race.Image


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