In the line of duty: how the British followed fashion during the second world war

Back of a printed rayon dress from Fashion on the Ration, an exhibition at the Imperial War Museum.

I’ve often wondered what “normal” life was like during the war. There was still crime, people still went to work, fell in love, died of natural causes, and worried about fashion.

The women’s auxiliary services were shameless in using clothes to catch recruits. Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRNS) officers were generally reckoned to have the nicest uniform: a stylish navy suit with a generously box-pleated skirt (no skimping on the fabric here), brass buttons and – a huge source of envy – coupons for good-quality black stockings.

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