The Second World War and the birth of the "Onesie"
Fashion is a reflection of the world around us.
To celebrate Memorial day, here's a Flashback of Fashion during the second World war.
I've always been a Fashion History buff. I can bore you with my knowledge of the rise of rayon during the War (bamboo is rayon!). I already knew how skirts shortened & became straighter, how women entering the work place made wearing trousers more socially acceptable, how styles became slightly "Militaristic," but I did not know about the birth of the “Onesie!!!”
They were called the "Siren Suit" so they could easily be pulled on in the rush to get to an air raid shelter. Who would have thunk!?
Have a happy, peaceful Memorial Day Weekend.
Here's some more details and fun facts from an article written by Aanchal Agarwal
“World War II is a fascinating era in fashion, society, and politics. The fashion of the era was truly representative of the events happening in the world in the most visible manner. This era made indelible marks on future designers and the science of fashion as the world knows it. Fashion and costume design were influenced and changed due to the many limitations presented and imposed by WWII. Things that happened during War time: a. The rationing of materials used in garment production during World War II introduced a new simplicity in women’s clothing. Hemlines rose and decorative elements disappeared creating the emergence of a classic style. b. In order to supply the war effort, fabric was rationed. Nylon and wool were both needed by the military and Japanese silk was banned in the USA after the attack on Pearl Harbour. Rayon, the new synthetic fabric developed in the 1930s became the material most often used for the creation of ladies’ clothing during the War. c. Many women owned Utility Jumpsuits which one could put on quickly when the sirens blew. The jumpsuit, a new innovation, was warm and comfortable and featured pockets for papers and valuables. d. As wool was used for soldiers’ blankets, fabric designers came up with wool blends made of recycled wool and rayon. Rayon was the fabric of choice. It was versatile; did not shrink or crease, and could be produced in either light or heavy weights.
e. Stockings formerly made of silk were made out of nylon but when the military began to use nylon, many women used tan make up on their legs and drew a line up the back to simulate seams. Bobby socks became popular among the younger set. f. Corsages made of fresh flowers like orchids and gardenias were worn to snazz up a plain black dress. Many women also owned corsages made of artificial flowers or gathered netting. g. Pants became a staple of women who worked in factories and soon gained widespread acceptance for casual wear and for work at home in the garden. The actress Katherine Hepburn helped make trousers a popular garment for women as she appeared in several movies wearing elegant, wide legged trousers.”
Military Inspired Fashion: above & below
And I can't end this without a few more interesting facts and photos of the Siren Suit:
Most women made their own (as shown by the pattern below), but they were available for purchase. Even Elsa Schiaparelli (shown in the bottom sketch) had her hand in designing a few.
PS: My husband, while proof reading this, called the one below & on the right a "Plaid Tragedy!"