Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Snapshot 1947

Today I was delighted to receive this magazine in the post.

The Australian Home Budget magazine for May, 1947. Only one and a half years after the end of the war, Australians, like the British, still had rationing for many of life's necessities, and foremost amongst them, for clothing. This little gem shows a country of women just starting to dare that maybe they can start to think about having nice things again, within reason.

The editorial points out:
"Many of today's B.G.'s [Business Girls] passed from their teens to their twenties during the war years. Many went straight from school uniforms to Service uniforms. All of them moved out into a world of stringent shortages and coupons which denied them the quality clothes of pre-war years.
Clothes are still rationed, but fabrics and style this winter are better.  For the first time in seven years the business-girl has the chance to have some of the lovely clothes for which her heart has yearned. If she plans carefully, and buys with her limited income - and coupons - clothes of basic simplicity which depend on accessories (no coupons) to bring a dash of romance to style , she can be the new girl in our lives - feminine above all - the one who brings a light to someone's eyes." (p.6)

Two months after Christian Dior launched his New Look for women's fashion, the look was taking off. The fitted peplum jacket and straight skirt shown here look forward to the 50s, while the turban to me still looks very 40s. The caption reads "Pull in your belt this winter with a long-torso suit made from uncouponed jersey. Basque peplum swishes above the blade skirt." (p.5)

There is no mention of Dior, but it is certainly his influence which calls for "a renewed avowal of femininity. Lines are subtle and fluent, with willow-wand waistlines, rounded - almost Rubens-rounded - hips, jackets bustled, flared or layered with tucks. Bodices are skin tight and smooth as cream. Shoulders generally remain wide, with odds in favor of the rounded line. Sleeves have become the big issue. Bishop, dolman, and push-up are the key-note of the uncluttered silhouette. Daytime skirts are narrowing as they lengthen and most are blade thin. The classic suit is still the B.G.'s best bet. With long or short jackets, teamed with pin-slim skirts in line with the leg, they are notable for their clean lines and lack of ornate trimming."

And for the evening? A jade and white striped silk dress, or "shirtmaker blouse and graceful velvet skirt". The fashion editor suggests that one "interchange the blouse with a sequined midriff, a lace tunic with exaggerated peplum, or a classic evening sweater." (p.7) I would love to see these!

What can I say? Such fabulous shoes. On Saturday, I went to see the Melbourne Theatre Company's production of "Born Yesterday", set just after the war. The highlight for me was the heroine's final costume, an amazing fur trimmed burgundy velvet coat with matching hat, and especially, the matching  40s platform peep toe shoes! But that's another story.

The editorial insists that "Hats this winter should go everywhere with you from dawn to dusk. They are back on the head and never, never, carried in the hand. Some sweep abruptly off the brow, others up one side. All hug the head. Adjustable padded berets and cloches are the best all-purpose styles for the B.G." The classic beret is for "sauntering through winter". (p.9)

Love the chunky bracelets, and the plastic pansy brooch and earrings. I always love a pansy.

The ads are always delightful in these old magazines and these are no disappointment.

How gorgeous is this ingenue in her conical stitched bra? And of course the modern woman needs comfort and convenience in all personal matters.

And no less interesting than the fashion are the photos from the royal tour of South Africa and Botswana, or Natal and Bechuanaland as they were then. Top is Princess Margaret, bottom is Princess (now Queen) Elizabeth. This was the first time the entire royal family had toured together, and the first time the princesses had been "abroad". (p.39)

Finally, a reminder that times are still difficult and it is not yet time to throw caution to the wind. The "Make do and mend" ethos is still encouraged, and garments with slight damage are not be discarded, but renovated.
The final word goes to Princess Dyes.

Best of all, those old fabrics could be dyed. No rank polyester. New life could be given to silk, cotton, rayon, and wool. And you could perspire on it without making it run! Just as well, because deodorants were not very effective then. Having spent an hour the other day standing over a hot tub dying a silk dress hideously greyed, oxidised and perspired upon, I can relate to this. To see that ugly rag come out of the tub a glorious and unflawed black was the highlight of the week!

Reference: The Australian Home Budget; May 1947; Consolidated Press; Sydney

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