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War On Fashion

Utility Clothing Scheme 1941 - 1952


War & Fashion

The Utility Clothing Scheme was introduced during the Second World War as a response to the shortage of clothing materials, as well as workforce. This scheme was there to ensure that fabrics, clothing, and shoes were available to people no matter their socioeconomic background.
This also made sure that rationing was followed, and that only the fabric needed to be used for everyday clothing was.

The scheme was not well received by everyone and it came as a shock to many.
Few expected it to last as long as it did.
Catchy slogans such as “There is enough if we all share and share alike” and “Rationing is the way to get fair shares” did little to change these feelings.
The Utility Clothing Scheme ran between 1941 and 1952, and in 1942 designs for the scheme were commissioned to designers such as Hardy Amies and Norman Hartnell. The introduction of fashionable utility clothing was most probably an attempt to make the critics a little bit happier about the scheme.

Clothing was rationed through a points system in the form of coupons. Extra point was given for work clothes but no points were needed for second-hand clothing or fur coats. The yearly allowance for an adult was 66 coupons in 1941 and this dress would have cost 7 out of those. The number of coupons was cut as the war continued: In 1942 it was cut to 48, in 1943 36, and in 1945 only 24 per adult.

Make do and mend, patching and smocking became a must-have skill for most, others, who could afford so, found clever ways to cheat the system.


If you could only buy 4 things per year, what would those have been in the last 12 months?
Think through the purchases you have made and try to find the ones you remember with a smile.


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