The hallmarks of fashion in the early 1940s included an austere silhouette with narrow hips, padded shoulders, and all manner of hats. The working-class look of icons such as Rosie the Riveter became chic, as women of all social standings joined the war effort. They kept things going at home, taking over the jobs—and the closets—of departing husbands and other male relatives. Class barriers fell and people dressed down. It was considered gauche to be showy during a time of shortage. Designers flexed their creative muscle—even creating beautifully decorated gas masks for eveningwear.
Overseas, leather was now restricted to military use, so shoe designers were forced to be increasingly clever. Every imaginable material was incorporated into shoes, but reptile skins and mesh were the most successful substitutes. Cork or wood-soled "Wedgies" were another staple. Trims and embellishments were, by necessity, kept to a minimum. Women everywhere used household items, including cellophane and pipe cleaners, to create festive shoe decorations.
was recycled, giving rise to such clever advertising as Vogues
Make Do & Mend campaign. Factories were converted
from consumer goods production to military production. U.S. rationing
rules limited the height of shoe heels to one inch and allowed for
only six color choices; stockings were also unavailable. Magazines
and beauty salons helped out by offering tips on how to paint legs
with back seams and tans using makeup. This being unpractical as an
ongoing ritual, ankle socks became increasingly popular.
In 1947, Christian Dior introduced the New Look, a return to classic
femininity with a nipped waist and wide skirts. The accompanying shoe
design would set the stage for the next decade
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