I added this beautiful pattern to the website this morning. I find it interesting, because it came out in 1944, in the height of World War 2. The war changed fashion quite a bit, because the war effort even affected fabric. Though the US didn’t strictly ration fabric as Europe did, the recommendations in the US were to try to limit textile useage for fashion by 15%. This meant that hemlines went up, and fripperies were very limited: you saw very extras like ruffles, lace, pockets, and the like.
It is amazing to look at war era fashion and see what inventiveness comes out when you are limited in what you use. Perhaps the war years were a pre-Project-Runway reality challenge, to figure out how to create style out of limited means, or by upcycling old clothes. Remember, these were people who had lived through the Depression years, having to scrape by, so they knew how to pinch a penny. But this pretty pattern just surprises me in its timing. Having lived through so much conservation mindset is part of what set people off when Dior came up with his “New Look” in the late 40s, because it required voluminous amounts of fabric, compared to what had been seen in the war years. The culture shock shocked people, and they picketed in protest about what was seen as a perceived waste of fabric.
This look coming from 1944 surprised me. Had it been 1948 or 1949, it wouldn’t surprise me, as I think women really came out of the war wanting to look feminine. But 1944? Surprising. There are not only pockets that aren’t really necessary, but there are ruffles everywhere. It’s gorgeous, but surprising in its timing during a period of minimalism. Perhaps it was seen as a protest against the guidelines. Perhaps women just wanted to feel pretty with everything they were going through. The result is gorgeous, but again, sometimes it’s just the timing that makes me wonder what is going on.