World War II (detail from Pearl Harbor photo)

Dressing for War

War production devoured cotton, silk, nylon, wool, leather, and rubber and little was left for civilian clothes or shoes. Regulation L-85, issued by the War Production Board in 1942, rationed natural fibers and forbade drastic style changes that might tempt buyers. It limited color choices and restricted the length of skirts and the fullness of pants and jackets; even cuffs were banned. Manufacturers substituted synthetics for some fabrics, but stopped making nylon stockings altogether in order to make parachutes. And they had to abandon rubber-based stretch fabrics and elastics in women’s foundation garments.

Clothing regulations from Women’s Wear Daily, 1942
Advertisement from Vogue, 1942
Advertisement for rayon hosiery
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