War changes fashion

By Times Staff
Published August 28, 2005

When stockings became hard to get as silk and substitute materials were dedicated to the war effort, women used makeup on their legs and drew seam lines.

Trousers became permanently acceptable as women went to work in factories.

Hats were replaced by factory-friendly headgear: scarves, turbans and snoods, those small, cuplike things made of fabric, or knitted or crocheted, to hold long hair in place at the nape of neck.

Clothing had a military look because of the war influence and government restrictions on how much material could be used to make things. Tailored suits were popular. Skirts were shorter and straight. Jackets were shorter, too, and had wide, square shoulders. Decoration was minimal.

One exception to the plain-and-simple clothing rules: the sequined evening sheath. Sequins weren't rationed because they weren't necessary to the war effort.

Because of restrictions on fabric use, suits were made without vests and pocket flaps, and trousers lost their multiple pleats and cuffs.

The exception: the zoot suit.