2013      Pretty and patriotic: Women's consumption of apparel during World War II


  • The War Production Board issued limitation order 85 in April 1942 in order to conserve fabric and manpower needed for the war effort. The United States government hoped to curb, at least temporarily, the purchase of apparel and other goods to help support the war effort by restricting materials needed for the war. However, the apparel industry was one of the leading consumer industries in the United States, and putting it on hold was not only impractical but could harm the domestic economy. The United States apparel industry even marketed goods as patriotic to stimulate, not curb, consumer spending. The purpose of this research was to examine how female consumers of women’s apparel were influenced by the federal regulations of women’s apparel during World War II. We also examined extant wartime apparel in order to provide a more complete picture of women’s wartime apparel styles.