Total War during World War II completely dismantled many existing social norms and social structures. There are indeed many obvious ones; however, there are also many social norms which were rewritten that are not as frequently talked about, specifically to this post, women’s fashion. Women’s fashion and what was acceptable in the United States changed due to Total War.
Prior to WWII, social class determined what women wore. Extravagance was found solely amongst the social elites. However, the war was able to break down many of these barriers, as the county was unified after falling under attack. Men and women alike looked past these normally obvious distinctions as they were unified by a sense of patriotism. This facilitated a more common appearance to rise. Also, due to the need of soldiers abroad, Americans implemented a “rationing” system which encouraged and required people to use less material so that the soldiers’ needs, be it clothes, ammunition or food, were taken care of. L-85, a limitation regulation emplaced by the government, was specifically implemented to set mandates on the amount of fabric which could be used per article of clothing. Thus, women began wearing clothing which was more revealing and using less fabric. Furthermore, new “styles” were created as a result of using rayon instead of cotton and wool, which were used for soldiers, and silk, which was a banned Japanese fabric.
Once WWII was over, the fashions adopted by many women continued to progress and evolve and never looked back. Dresses were made to have a much more “sexy” appeal, greatly straying from traditional values. More vibrant colors, which sometime were viewed as expressive, were used in the next generation as women began to push for equality, too. This, along with the shifting of fashion, was a direct result of Total War during WWII.