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1940s Civilian Clothing

   Ladies' Clothing

   Gentlemens' Clothing

Gentlemens' Braces

   Childrens' Clothing

Where to Buy Stuff

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Roll of Honour




Last update:


03 Oct 2012:

Where to Buy Stuff page updated


















































































































































































































As soon as war broke out in 1939, the Government introduced food rationing.  This was because, by the late 1930s, as a result of decades of under-investment in British agriculture, two thirds of Britainís food was being imported from overseas. It quickly became apparent that ships were going to be needed for transporting men, machinery and arms, whilst German U-boats prowling the seas around the British Isles and sinking what they could also meant that Britain would be unable to feed itself.  When rationing of food, to ensure everyone had an equal share of what was available, proved an invaluable tool in keeping the nation fed and believing that "everyone was in it together for the greater good", rationing was extended to cover other items such as clothes and furniture.

Introduced in June 1941, clothes rationing became an all important part of the British war effort, and rationing books and the make do & mend campaign dominated the 1940s.  In response to the shortage of fabric a range of utility clothing (known as Civilian Clothing 1941 or "CC41") was introduced, which used the minimum amount of cloth and was devoid of embroidery. Menís and boyís jackets only had three buttons and two pockets and trousers had no turn-ups. Womenís and girlís dresses had no pleats, elastic waist bands or fancy belts. Utility shoes had a heel which was less than 2 inches.

To overcome the clothing ration people made their own clothes by re-using material from old clothes, curtains, blankets and furnishing fabrics which were sometimes available. Knitting was very popular, and people were encouraged to knit gloves, socks and scarves to send to the men in the armed forces. Old jumpers were unravelled and re-knitted to create new garments, even shoes were sometimes knitted. Resources were scarce and everything was reused and recycled.

Today, in the 21st century, obtaining original wartime period clothing is not impossible, although it is sometimes easier to find clothing which looks similar to 1940's. Our re-enactors tend to scour charity shops and the internet, whilst also visiting sellers who appear at many of the events we attend.

The pages in this section will give you a brief guide about what to look out for.