Fashion for War

War priorities may put a dint in milady’s new spring bonnet —and that’s not all

THELMA LeCOCQ January 15 1942

Fashion for War

War priorities may put a dint in milady’s new spring bonnet —and that’s not all

THELMA LeCOCQ January 15 1942

Fashion for War

War priorities may put a dint in milady’s new spring bonnet —and that’s not all


SHE WAS a woman who was accustomed to dressing fashionably and when New York said sequins were the thing, she wanted sequins. The salesgirl explained that there were none, it was on account of the war.

“You can’t tell me that,” the customer protested, “I know soldiers don’t wear sequins.”

That remark was overheard last fall in a big Toronto store. Since then the Canadian woman has learned a great deal about what she can and cannot have in the way of fashion. She knows that her clothes and her cosmetics are closely tied in with matters of transportation and war priorities, and that one of her jobs is to do with less in order that there may be more for Canada’s defense program.

The war effort needs rubber so she’ll have fewer girdles and garters, fewer overshoes and sport shoes, fewer bathing caps and no oiled-silk umbrellas. The war effort requires metal and while they may let her hang on to her zippers and garter clips in a limited amount, her jewellery, vanity cases, and other things may have to go, though perhaps not before a substitute is found. Chemicals, too, are war materials and they may take the sodium alginate from her wave-set lotions, the zinc oxide that makes her face powder cling, the solvents from her nail polish, the ammonia salts from her permanent and the chlorine from her noninffammable dry-cleaning fluids.

She’ll take second place, too, in being allotted labor and machinery. As long ago as last August, 23,000 pairs of women’s fall shoes got no farther than the order blanks, while one of the largest Canadian shoe factories worked to capacity turning out 35,000 pairs of army shoes. Her underwear factories, the ones that made tailored pyjamas and knitted cottons, are now making army pyjamas and ankle-lengths. Her blouse factories that turned out tailored cotton sport styles are busy stitching army shirts. The rayon processors who will gladly make everything she wears may find themselves stuck for machinery because of the metal priorities. Almost the only items that may not run short or be commandeered are large diamonds— the small ones are scarce because of the shortage of cutters and real gold and silver for jewellery. And while gold and silver and several-karat diamonds are all very well they, by themselves, don’t garb a woman for an active outdoor life.

Neither wholesalers nor retailers expect the clothing situation to get completely out of hand. They have faith that a reduced but adequate supply of essential textiles, leathers, rubber and other basic materials will continue to come through to keep the civilian not only warm and decent but confident and prideful as well. “The Government knows a woman lias to have a girdle,” is the attitude of one of the more optimistic members of the; trade, “and they’ll see that she gets it. There may be just half the usual quantity of elastic in it, and the boning may have to be of something other than steel, but there’ll still be girdles.”

Most retailers agree on one point, namely, that the change is going to be a gradual one, so gradual that a woman may end up looking pretty much as Nature made her without benefit of curls and frills, and not drop dead from the shock. That’s how it’s been with her stockings. The shattering announcement came last July that no more silk would be imported and that stocks of silk on hand were

frozen. Women rushed to buy all the chiffons they could manage, but once steeled to lacea future in which there’d be no silk stockings, they were grateful to be allowed silk legs with rayon or cotton tops and feet.

From there it was only a step to part silk and part rayon, and, that done, it was no trick to get, them into all rayon or all lisle. Today, as any man can tell you, one pair of legs in four on our city streets are clad in lisle. 1 n the spring it will be one in

two, and by next fall women will accept lisle stockings as a daily routine and feel lucky indeed if they’re able to wangle a pair of part silk or sheer Nylon for evening glamour.

Preparations are under way for a plant that expects to turn out enough Nylon to dress the legs not only of all the women in Canada, but in the whole British Empire. Tanks of coal gas are ready and waiting to be turned into stockings, but until

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Fashion for War

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the Government authorizes steel for an elaborate factory installation, sheer stockings for everyone are nothing but a dream.

Rayon For Hats

NOR WILL the Canadian woman be given a chance to make up on the rest of her clothes what she loses on her legs. After what they’ve seen in the past few years, men are of the opinion that nothing worse could possibly happen to her hats. A woman, though, knows better. If she’s a rich early bird, she may have one more Easter bonnet of baku. ballibuntl or some other of the exotic straws that used to come in the good old days from Italy, China or South Africa. But the stock of these is limited, and ninety per cent of the women in next Easter’s parade will be wearing hats of rayon fabrics, some of which will resemble straw, made on shapes of stiffened muslin and wire.

Trimmings won’t be able to help a great deal either. Rayon ribbon hat bands don’t smooth to a crown the way the real silk ones used to. Domestic feathers resemble feather dusters in doll’s house size. Domestic flowers are simple blooms without variety or detail. And while we have

a few native veilings and a few Canadian - made rhinestone ornaments, there’s nothing as yet to make up for the silken flowers, the fragile feathers and the clever ornaments that used to come from France. Nor will the Canadian woman be able to take refuge under the classic felt that had to be good because it wasn’t exciting. These felts were made from European and Australian rabbit tur, now very scarce; and the Canadian rabbit doesn’t lend himself to feltmaking. Even if there is enough wool for anything so frivolous as hat felts, wool felts haven’t a chance of looking good after the rain and snow have done a job on them.

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Tank Headache

THE design of a tank is evolved from compromises between conflicting military requirements. These are: armament, armor, mobility,

weight, number of men in crew, and speed of production. To balance these and other factors, yet bring out a vehicle that most nearly fits all probable warfare situations, is the tank designer’s headache.— Scientific A merican.


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for War

37—Starts on page 9

Even priorities dare go only so far and though linen is practically extinct, cotton is scarce and wool may be tied up in the shipping sheds of Australia, the Canadian woman can count on having some sort of covering. Scarcity of materials will naturally influence her silhouette and right now the designers are wrangling over what they’ll make of her. One school of fashion inclines to the theory that a scarcity of materials will result in longer skirts. On the face of it this sounds unreasonable; the explanation is that given two or three inches of leeway for sitting down and stepping into street cars, a skirt can fit the wearer like a tube fits the tooth paste.

The other choice appears to be the shorter skirt that takes its extra spread from side to side in a few dirndl gathers, and this may have an edge over the tighter models because it’s simpler to design and make and will save on labor as well as material. Any sort of dressmaking, though, is going to be difficult. The United States will have better uses for steel than to put it into dressmaking scissors and already pins are so scarce that factories are sweeping their floors with magnetic brooms.

The material in ninety-nine per cent of dresses is likely to be rayon that’s processed entirely in Canada. Already the same rayon, brushed to a soft nap, is taking the place of wool for housecoats, sports jackets, caps and scarves and even dresses and, if the supply can be made to go round, rayon has a good chance of landing up half-and-half with wool in wartime suitings and coatings.

The color choice in these garments is almost certain to be narrowed down, partly to save labor and partly because the best dye-stuffs are being commandeered for army clothing. The trimmings, too, will lose much of their novelty and excitement. Already the Department of Munitions and Supply has cut down on a lady’s buttons by reducing her color choice from 600 to fifteen in order to conserve the bakelite resin for shell manufacture. Already the Government has made it clear that she can expect no new costume jewellery, though, as long as the metal, dyes and plastics can be spared she’s quite welcome to have new editions of her old favorites, and manufacturers may t rot out the molds of fifteen years ago hoping that fashion can repeat herself successfully.

An even greater burden to some will be the loss of certain almost universal aids to beauty. Given a permanent wave and a bright lipstick, the city woman at least is ready to face the world in the simplest of clothes. Knowing that defense industries are likely to be given priority in aluminum ahead of permanent waving machines and aluminum foil, she’s not losing any time in getting a new wave. She is determined to have her curls for another six months at least and when she asks about the future, operators can make no promises, but they do

their best to soothe her. A permanent waving machine, well serviced, will last for six years they tell her. Aluminum foil, which is the stuff that keeps her curls from burning to a crisp, is on the priorities list, but greater thicknesses of certain kinds of paper can take its place successfully.

Not that that ends a woman’s coiffure problems. The bristles for her hundred brisk strokes a night come from China. So do her hairnets. Metals are on the priorities fist so she’s apt to go short on hairpins. If she wants to dye, druggists assure her she can use our own Canadian products without fear of turning green or purple. If she wants to bleach, she has to take the shade she gets out of the old-fashioned peroxide bottle. If she yearns to be a redhead, she’s out of luck unless the British fleet cleans up the Mediterranean in a hurry and brings her henna from Egypt.

Lipsticks No Worry

AS FOR her lipstick—so far as anv-t m. one can tell the lipstick will be always with us. We have the vegetable coloring matter and we have the wax that forms the base of it as well as the base of that other important grooming product, shoe polish. Chances are there may be fewer shades and the world will have to do with only three or four varieties of lips instead of twenty or twenty-five. Chances are too that, lacking perfume essences from France and the Balkans, lipsticks, rouge and cold cream will be perfumed with locallymade synthetic fragrances. Powder, which some women consider even more of a necessity than lipstick, has a base of talc that used to come from Italy, but there should be no shortage of that thanks to the available talc supplies in our own provinces of Ontario and Quebec.

Soap will present no problem whatever as it’s a by-product of glycerin, important in the making of explosives, and being produced in increasingly larger quantities.

The women will get along. Cosmetic firms are already working on substitutes to keep her permanented, painted and powdered, come what may. The women themselves are discovering substitutes too. Already they’re trotting out the real silk Patou models of the Rich Twenties and having them made over by their dressmakers. They’re probing the attic for grandmother’s black Chantilly lace that was preserved for its quaintness. They’re delving into trunks and cedar chests for old fur collars, for French flowers with life in them yet, for strings of crystal and amber once fashionable and too precious to throw away. Good old felts and fine old straws will find themselves reblocked and back in circulation. And though it probably hasn’t happened here yet, rumors are trickling over from England that, with the help of a clever little tailor, a girl can get a very dashing suit from her fighting husband’s civvies.