Fashion on the Ration – an eye opener

With last Friday being the 70th anniversary of VE Day (Victory in Europe Day), marking 70 years since the end of the second World War, I thought it would be the perfect time to share some photos from my trip to the Fashion on the Ration: 1940s Street style exhibition at the IWM (Imperial War Museum) a few weeks ago.

I’ve never seen an exhibition at the IWM but I was so impressed. There were some wonderful pictures, clothes and films from the 1940s. There was a lot to take in!

I’ve been to the museum before for a DVD release I had worked on, The Battle of the Somme. The main area in the middle of the building has planes hanging from above and boats coming out of the wall, it must be a nightmare to dust but is amazing to see.

The biggest thing I learnt from the exhibition was about coupons. I couldn’t get over the lack of them! As the 40s is a new area for me (it’s always traditionally been about the 1950s) I’ve never really stopped to think about the meaning of slogans like ‘Make do and mend’. The exhibition explained how many coupons you could get in a year and what items where worth in coupons.  I worked out I had spent in just two weeks before going to the exhibition about what someone from the 1940s would get in a year!!! It was an eye opener.

The information and clothes they had to view were so pretty and each had their own story. I couldn’t take photos inside but I have seen a few bloggers posts who went to the press opening. Vintage Frills has some great pictures if you want a peek but there is nothing like getting yourself down there to see it with some friends.

I came away from the exhibition with lots of thoughts, not only about history but about what women did back then, what they created. It made me reflect on the way I shop. It’s safe to say I buy a dress at least every other week and if I’m feeling like I need a little pick me up it could easily go to three! But people back then made clothes to last, they reworked what they had, they thought of new ideas like changing a dress so it looked different each time it was worn by replacing the collar and cuffs.

A wedding dress would be made with love and then used by many brides within a family and passed to friends also. Now we are so quick to get rid of stuff we don’t like any more, can’t fit in to – I know I’m guilty of this as much as anyone. I wonder what they would make of us now if they could see us?

At the end I got to look in the gift shop, I do love a gift shop so took my time to look at all the pieces the IWM had put together based on the exhibition. I would love to do a job like that.

I got myself one of the Make do and mend bags and I can never say no to a postcard.

I’m not really sure why I always buy postcards, I think it’s from when I was little and we used to visit places I would pick one out. I find it a great way of getting art /images I like for a cheaper cost. I really should do something with them.

So overall it was a wonderful trip to the Fashion on the Ration and really worth a visit. Have any of you been? What did you take away from the experience? x



8 thoughts on “Fashion on the Ration – an eye opener

    1. I agree! It’s made me think that’s for sure. It really was a well researched and put together exhibition I will be going to more at the IWM that’s for sure.

  1. LOL, I bought a postcard too! “To dress extravagantly in war time is worst that bad form it is unpatriotic” I loved the ‘bad form’! Very 1940’s. I found seeing the utility labels very interesting. And how tiny everyone must have been! One of our friends (Aye Aye) has made the headscarves that are selling in the gift shop x

    1. I’m glad I’m not the only one! They do come in handy now and then.
      I know what you mean about people being so tiny then, all the dresses were wonderful but I would never have fitted in to any of them!
      Well done your friend for getting into the gift shop it’s the perfect place to find vintage fans at I bet they have done really well. Thanks for poping over to my blog. X

  2. It looks wonderful I am hoping I get a chance to go up to London to see this exhibition it’s been ages since there has been anything I have wanted to go to this much!

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