Goodwood Revival Costumes – Ladies 40’s Wartime clothing

Posted by Jen on 13/08/2012 in 40's fashion, Fashion Ideas, Goodwood Revival |

As we have already seen, there are many Goodwood Revival costumes you can choose from. Many people go to great lengths to dress the part for the Goodwood Revival weekend, resulting in a step back in time authentic look.

We are now going to look in more detail at how you can achieve that specific look of ladies 1940’s style. War time rationing led to many restrictions which affected the number of new clothes that people could buy. It also affected the amount of fabric that clothing manufacturers could use. Women working within the military services, as nurses or such like, adapted to wearing trousers as it was a practical necessity.

The nylon stocking was introduced into the USA in the 1940’s and proved highly successful, however it had to later be withdrawn as the material was needed for military parachutes. This shows how tough the times were. Women had to make do with materials which were accessible. In order to create the illusion of stockings, women would use tan make up on their legs and draw a seam line in eye pencil along the back of their legs. Otherwise they could join the WRNS, who used stockings as a cunning way of recruitment. When nylon stockings reappeared in the shops there were ‘nylon riots’ as customers fought over the deliveries.

In Britain, clothing was also strictly rationed, perhaps more strictly, with a points system. The board of trade issued regulations for ‘utility clothes’ in 1941 and in 1942 America followed suit, issuing strict restrictions for every item of women’s clothing.

During wartime, women wore skirts at or near knee length, with simply-cut blouses or shirts and square shouldered jackets. Magazines provided advice for women on how they could remake their men’s suits into smart outfits for themselves. This was because men had no use for their old suits as they would have been wearing military uniform.

Make do and mend was a popularly coined phrase used throughout wartime Britain. As the ethos grew, so did the ideas. Women would recycle old clothes, using outgrown items to remake clothes for children. More glamorous clothing was severely rationed and often sold on the black market at a high price.

When dressing up in 1940’s costumes much of Goodwood prefer to wear the glamorous screen image encapsulated by Hollywood films of the 1940’s. This included beautiful furs and perfectly styled hats and gloves. We should remember however how difficult the 1940’s were, glamorous clothes which we can now wear for these events were not readily available in wartime Britain.

If you are attending the Goodwood Revival this year then give us a call at Mad Hatters on 01580 830757 for help in finding the perfect outfit.  You can also visit our website on



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