How World War Changed Women’s Fashion

An exhibition called The Way We Wore – In Service and On The Street, which has begun online at the New Zealand Fashion Museum, is one of many such exhibits on now throughout the world spotlighting how World War I and II impacted women’s clothing.

From raising hemlines to new utility wear worn by the ladies left at home, some women even turned to their husband’s closets to dress themselves for their new occupations supporting the home front.

“As the men left for war, women took on what were previously male-dominated roles such as farm or factory work. The physicality of the work meant that traditional women’s attire wasn’t appropriate. Women raided men’s wardrobes and altered shirts and trousers to fit,” curator of the exhibition Doris de Pont says.

The Way We Wore exhibits around 60 photographs from World War I and World War II gathered through an open call to New Zealanders and presents them with their associated stories.

These photographs were taken from the “attics and old suitcases of New Zealanders.” “The images show how real people dressed and interacted at the time, and the impact of the war years on our sartorial style,” de Pont says.

“Women gained a great deal of freedom during wartime. They were reluctant to return to pre-war gender definitions, including the definition of what was proper for a woman to wear,” de Pont explains.

Original article by Liza Foreman, The Daily Beast, July 22, 2014.

Tags: Daily Beast (The)  Doris De Pont  New Zealand Fashion Museum  The Way We Wore – In Service and On The Street  World War I  World War II  

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