Fashion Tips from a WWII Farm Girl

December 5, 2012

Next month I’m participating in a WWII reenactment and I’ve been obsessed with perfecting my civilian “impression”. I figured I should stick with a look that’s natural for me since this is my first reenactment. I live in a small town in Vermont surrounded by wilderness and farm land, so I thought a farm girl would be perfect!

If you follow me on Pinterest, you’ve already seen these amazing LIFE Magazine archive photos by Nina Leen. I started a separate board of WWII era inspiration specifically for reenactments, and have been pinning up a storm as I find awesome photos and sewing patterns.

This is pretty much the look I’m going for. Wide wale corduroy pants, a sweater, hair scarf, loafers etc. I found this 1940’s reproduction pattern that I’m using to recreate the pants. The pattern photo makes the pants look very formal, but I promise they look AWESOME and very farm appropriate in corduroy! I’m almost done with my first pair, and already plan to make another in denim.

It’s been a lot of fun researching how war rationing effected women’s styles and fabric availability in different areas of the world. Apparently the US didn’t suffer the same clothes rationing as parts of Europe did, but fabrics were more expensive and styles were more plain in order to conserve it. “Make Do and Mend” was the slogan of the era!

I’m loving all the wide wale cord!! I might have to make a jacket too so I can be like “Oh, no big deal, just milking a goat in a cord suit like a lady”. So awesome. I want to make a few skirts too but with the nylon ration and all, I won’t be able to wear stockings with it. I HAVE to wear compression stockings when I go “bare legged” or my terrible circulation kicks in. Purple is not the most attractive skin tone haha! So, I’ll probably stick to pants and cotton knee socks. We’ll see.

“Oh, no big deal, just sawing this giant log in half because I’m a 1940’s woman who’s takin’ care of business on the farmstead LIKE A BOSS”. Yeah. Lookin’ fancy with a saw y’all. Haha! That’s so me! (Ask my mom about me and handsaws. Trees don’t stand a chance! …small trees. But still.)

From a sewing perspective, it’s been interesting and rather nice actually to put away my serger and use pinking shears for seam finishing instead. I’ve also been researching proper finishing techniques and hand stitches of the era. I’m trying to be as authentic as possible.

If anyone has any experience with WWII reenactments or can recommend any kind of 1940’s resources for me, I’m all ears!  I’m still trying to track down (or make) a fancier dance dress, and eyeglasses! The eye wear thing is really proving to be a challenge. I might have to go without glasses and just squint for the whole week haha!

We’ll see I suppose! Either way, I’m super excited!