Tuesday, June 3, 2014

{ i c o n } wwii women workers

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One of my greatest passions is women factory workers during WWII. Both the social significance and the clothing that was worn. There's no style I love more than workwear, and for women it's heyday was during WWII. 

When the U.S. first entered the war sizing for women wasn't taken into account, so in the beginning you would have seen many a billowing belted waist on coveralls and large cuffs on denim. It didn't take too long for manufacturers to catch up, and widely optimized department store catalogs soon had special pages of workwear made just for women. 

These images are from a few 70s photo history books I recently thrifted, except the two large group photos, those are from the book Waging War on the Home Front. I've seen a lot of similar photos online, but they're mostly propaganda snaps, staged and pretty, set up to make factory work look appealing. 

These don't seem to be staged, they may be posing in some, but really these show a bit of the grit that women had to deal with every day. They have grease on their hands, you can see a peek of a cardigan or blouse under coveralls, and gloves and goggles are the norm. And of course a bandanna or headscarf was often standard. Even with short hair, a hat or headscarf was required for working in military factories. 

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  1. I love this post! I do curation for the navy and one of the coolest things I've seen was a women's denim work jacket from WWII! My last giant paper in college was about women working during that time, but unfortunately I had to cut out the clothing aspect of it :(

    1. I'd love to read it if that's ever something you'd be up for sharing! And I'd probably kill to get my hands on such a jacket.

    2. I'm not sure I have a version other than my hard copy sadly, but I could find the list of reference books I used for it. They were all really good, and you would be able to see all the pictures. I want to cry half the time I'm at work because there are such perfectly tailored uniforms and they're just too glorious, plus a lot of them come with background info/stories. I'm getting super dramatic, but I feel like you would understand ;)

    3. I completely understand, I would probably burst honestly. And I'd love a list if it's not too much trouble! The only female specific book I've read is slacks and calluses.

    4. I accidentally deleted your last comment! What was his name?

    5. Jeff Warner if you're asking about the uniform guide books

  2. Fantastic blog!! Women's workwear is so rare from this era, I bet. But very amazing fashion history.

  3. These photos are fantastic! What great books to stumble upon. You cant go wrong with denim, flannel, fair isle, or bandanas!