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   Location: homevirtual collectioneveryday through the years › Men & Women's Dress, 1940s

Men & Women's Dress, 1940s

1940s man & woman's dressItem: Cotton Housedress
Date: Ca. 1942
Accession #: 1991.32.0
Donor: Howard Wilson

Item: Floral Apron
Date: Ca. Mid-20th Century
Accession #: 1991.25.3
Donor: Howard Wilson

Item: Rayon Shirt
Date: Ca. 1947
Accession #: 1626
Donor: Mary Fisher

Item: Leather Belt
Date: Ca. Mid-20th Century
Accession #: 1990.22.6
Donor: Howard Marshall

Item: Overalls
Installation Garments

There was little change in fashion occurring shortly after the outbreak of WWII that lead to rationing apparel as well as other goods. L-85 restrictions made everyday clothing simpler and encouraged the use of man-made fibers.

Housedresses, like this one, were typically worn by housewives as they did their daily chores. These dresses could be purchased from catalogs such as Montgomery Ward or Sears or made at home. This one is an example of a homesewn dress that may have been made of feed or flour sacks. The apron, likely made of flour sacks protected the dress, reducing the labor of washing clothing.

Men's work clothes consisted of jeans and button-front shirts for labor-intensive occupations. The shirt was made of rayon, one of the commonly used man-made fibers used during World War II. Overalls, now called jeans, were considered work clothing and not appropriate for other activities.