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planning outfits for a wwii reenactment

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There’s a big WWII reenactment coming up at the end of January (I’ll be there for three days) and I have bits and pieces of outfits put together for my impression, but now I need to do some last minute sewing to fill in the gaps. Last year I wore my farm girl impression, but this year I wanted to wear something a little more “everyday WWII civilian”.

1940soutfitcollagephotos via various WWII era Sears and Roebuck catalogs

For reenactments I wear a good mix of vintage, secondhand, and handmade items. Ideally I would be wearing exclusively 1940s vintage but so much of it that exists is too fragile or too precious to get hard wear out of, so I do my best to recreate an authentic look with some modern finds. I have a collection of mail order catalogs, and fashion magazines from the WWII era that I always look to and cross reference when buying for events. It’s important to make sure I wear styles, fabrics, and colors that are correct for the period, so having an authentic reference is a must.

Here’s what I have for my civilian impression so far:
redcoat

I have two coats: this red wool one and this camel hair coat. Both are 80s/70s “vintage” and both were found at thrift stores. I might try to shorten the camel coat since it’s a tad too long. It should hit right below the knee for a more 40s look.

reversibleskirt

I have this 1940s vintage reversible wool skirt that I bought from Beckiy at Trunk Of Dresses. Isn’t it awesome?! I’m so excited to have two skirts in one!

I also have three sweaters that I plan to bring:
sweater3sweater2sweater1

The mustard and navy blue sweaters will definitely go with my plaid skirt, but the aqua sweater still needs an outfit to accompany. I also have black and charcoal colored stockings to go with a pair of black gloves and boots (I also have brown boots and stockings, but no clothing that will match the brown well at this point). …I still need some sort of winter head coverings now that I think about it. Add that to my list!

So here are the things I need to sew in order to complete my look: One white blouse to go under all my sweaters, and one plain colored skirt.

McCall5557skirt1944_1

I already traced and sewed a muslin version of my skirt, but ran into a problem because the muslin stretched quite a bit as I was ironing it, even after stay stiching the waist. The waist band doesn’t even come close to fitting as it should! See?

McCall5557skirt1944_2

That definitely throws a wrench in my fitting process. I went back and measured the pattern pieces (which I definitely should have done FIRST before tracing them all. Didn’t I say I was going to do that first?) and I realized I need to add some wearing ease into the pattern. The skirt is supposed to fit a 24 inch waist, but that also happens to be the finished garment measurement. That means there is zero sitting, breathing, or eating room in the pattern which are all things I’d prefer to be able to do while wearing this skirt, ha! All modern patterns have wearing ease built in so I’m a little perturbed that I need to go in and add the breathing room myself. Once I make this adjustment I shouldn’t ever have to adjust it or make another muslin again, and that is the purpose of my twelve pattern challenge after all. …let’s hope the blouse pattern needs no adjustment!

outfit1

I know I’m going to make a plain white blouse, but I ordered swatches of corduroy and brushed cotton twill in various shades of blue, brown, and green for possible skirt choices.

What color skirt should I make to match the separates I already have?

xo
Rochelle

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23
  • Kristian

    This is so interesting seeing a peek into how you choose your re-enactment outfits.

  • Brooke

    I think all the colors of skirt you mentioned would be good – especially a blue or brown one because then you can get some use out of your brown boots and stockings! =)

    Love the reversible plaid skirt! I saw another blog post about those recently but I can’t seem to find it again (thought it was at thevintagetraveler.wordpress.com).

  • Donna

    Love the reversible wool skirt!!

  • Megan R

    Going to a re-enactment sounds like so much fun. I wish I knew of some in my area!

  • misscrayolacreepy

    I have no idea if this color is “forties” or not, but I vote for a dark green.

    It’s so cool that you get to make your clothes for reenactments! I’m sure the other ladies are going to be so jealous of your outfits :)

  • Stacia

    Patterns always want to throw something in there to spoil your plans, don’t they? I’m glad you figured it out on the muslin and look forward to the finished product!

  • Tasha @ By Gum, By Golly

    I was going to say a dark forest green, but then I saw the gray suggestion and I like that too! I think if my gray wool skirt actually fit me I’d wear it all the time. lol

    I love the pieces you have, and that reversible skirt is ah-may-zing!!

  • ShanniLoves

    My vote is for either gray or brown…until I seen sillyandrea’s red skirt suggestion. I always love red and aqua together.

  • JJ

    Looking at all your separates, I thought a dark olive green would go nicely with everything. The suggestion of a Hunter green from Juliana also sounds nice

  • Lauren

    All of those pieces are gorgeous! I especially like the gloves.

  • Design Rewind Fashions on Etsy

    I’m in love with that aqua blue sweater! I think a navy or a taupe could go well with many of your choices too. Have a wonderful time at the reenactment! I can’t wait to see photos on your blog!

  • gingermakes

    Ooh, what fun outfits! I second the grey suggestion– I have two grey skirts, and they go with EVERYTHING. Maybe you will have to make a couple of skirts to complete your mix and match look!

    Question– the reversible skirt! Is the plaid different on each side, or is it fully-lined to make it reversible? Either way, it’s such a great idea!

  • vintageattempt

    I am probably not one to give color choice advice given that the vast majority of my skirts are grey, but it goes with everything. So if you don’t already have enough grey skirts (I can’t believe I am saying that when I am making a grey skirt to go in my grey heavy collection LOL), I would go with a darkish grey.

  • Shelly

    I’m so jealous that you can take part in re-enactments. I would really enjoy participating in them but sadly there aren’t any here in Australia that I know of. My first thought was to go with a brown skirt but all the above suggestions would work equally well.

  • Fräulein K.

    wonderful outfits, i like the aqua sweater

  • Joan

    Navy or black. But if you want something to go with your brown boots, I second the chocolate (it’s one of my favs!)

  • Virginia

    I couldn’t begin to give a preference, I know so little about historical clothing, but I’m excited to see what you choose. :-)

  • Sharren

    Hi Rochelle,
    I’d opt for dark blue, grey or brown. The dark blue would be my first choice considering the items you have selected so far and the preference for patriotic colours during WWII. I’m looking forward to seeing the choices you make and if course the photos of the event!

  • Juliana @ Urban Simplicity

    I say you can’t go wrong with a good hunter/bottle green skirt. I wear mine constantly. Goes with so many different things (plus it would coordinate with your other two sweaters!)

    I just picked up some white lawn to make a white blouse myself–I realized I really need one for layering and such and button downs with a proper 40s collar just don’t exist.

    Great selections for GAP! I’m a little jealous that you get to go!! Maybe when my kids are older.

  • stgilbert

    I second the vote for a brown skirt – a deep chocolate brown. It would look lovely with your warm complexion and dynamite with the aqua cardigan!

  • sillyandrea

    I’m leaning towards a brown skirt, and hen black ofr second choice. The brown would be lovely with the yellow or aqua sweater and matches the shoes and hose, or OOO I just thought – a red skirt would be super snappy!

  • Jessica Cangiano

    How exciting! I always greatly enjoy hearing about your reenactment experiences. Based on the classic colours at work in these timelessly lovely pieces, I’d probably opt for black, yellow or blue.

    ♥ Jessica

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A Blog By Rochelle New

I'm a fabric wizard and wielder of needles with a passion for quilt industry cottons, bygone eras, and natural things.

i.e. I mostly do nerd things like pretend I'm a wizard, collect moldy books, and spend too much time picking up acorns in the woods, all with my spirit animal (a dog named Lucille), my personal photographer (a man named William), and a few literal fat cats in tow.

Making magic and messes in the backwoods of New York.

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