When we think of living with clothing rations during the Second World War, we usually think of the United Kingdom, though many other countries imposed rationing too. And some of the ways women dealt with rationing make useful tips for staying on budget.
Alexandria Blaelock, author of Build Your Signature Wardrobe: How to look good and feel confident in four steps says, “When you have limited ability to buy new clothes, you have to get creative, and it’s amazing what some WWII women came up with.”
Here are Blaelock’s tips for living with clothing rations in a modern context:
- Make do and mend. The most commonly cited element of rationing is mending. Many of us have lost touch with the techniques of sewing buttons, replacing zippers, patching, repairing tears, and resewing hems. You can make these repairs without a sewing machine, and they will extend the life of your clothes.
- Reuse. When their dresses faded, many women took them apart and remade them inside out so that the fabric looked newer and fresher. They also kept rag bags of old clothes, trim, buttons and zips so they could add details to cover stains or tears.
- Repurpose. Enterprising wartime women cut down mens clothing for themselves. They also turned curtains into dresses and blankets into coats. While this may not be your first choice (especially if you can’t sew), if you’re having trouble finding patterned clothes you like, don’t be afraid to take a spin round the manchester department.
- Buy multi-purpose clothing. As rationing started to bite dress codes became less formal, and as women couldn’t buy evening wear, they started wearing afternoon clothing to evening events. As a result, we modern ladies very rarely wear formal evening wear, so when you shop look for outfits, you can wear to a variety of events and places.
- Buy nondescript clothing and distinctive accessories. When you can’t get a lot of clothes, the best way to disguise that fact is to wear unique accessories that take attention away from your boring dresses. People are so busy being charmed by your crystal dragonfly brooch they won’t notice your dress.
These five tips for living with clothing rations will help you extend the life of your wardrobe, and gain the most value from your garments.
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