August 20, 2011

WW2 Factory Fashion poster blends style and history together

Day 232 of Vintage 365


Often times as I look lovingly through vintage images, particularly those hailing from either World War, I'm struck by the fact that what seems merely charming and beautiful to us today, once served a very important social purpose.

Signs, cookbooks and pamphlets about Victory gardens, making doing or going without, and staying calm are swept up by the present day public with great gusto, enjoyed (by many of those outside of our vintage loving circle) more so for their artistic appeal than their historical significance.

It is the later point which ultimately draws me to many vintage images and items however. I'm fascinated by days gone by and what kind of things people saw, wore and were surrounded by as they went about their lives.

On the informative - and highly enjoyable - site Exploring 20th Century London, a striking three colour 1940s poster showcasing which types of fashions were and were not acceptable for WW2 factory workers really caught my eye.


There's a sweetness to the illustration (which was done by Grace Golden) that belies the fact that it was intended to be a very serious, informative piece. At first glance one could easily be forgiven for thinking this cute drawing hailed from the pages of a fashion magazine or clothing ad. Instead its purpose was to show female factory workers what styles were best suited to the demanding jobs they were to preform.

Of course, I like to think, there was a degree of common sense to the message (hmmm, I'm going to work in a factory, should I don an evening gown or a pair of overalls? Winking smile), but regardless it never hurts to be reminded of things that are good for one's personal safety, including the best garments to wear to a new job.

Today many of us who enjoy 1940s clothes would happily sport either (or both!) of these looks, one utilitarian, the other date night worthy. Fashion inspiration can indeed be drawn from this wonderful Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents poster, but so too, I think, can a great little history lesson.

It's the merging of these two points - style with fact, history with beauty - that perpetually endears me to the past and happily keeps me on the lookout for engaging vintage images like this beautiful British Factory Fashion Notes poster.


  1. Another lovely and thoughtful image, thanks Jessica. I wonder how you got started with your love of everything vintage? Can you pinpoint where and when your love and passion for these gorgeous images started?

    BTW, thanks for your lovely comment over at my "place"

    Enjoy your weekend,


  2. I love this poster- and it's good food for thought. I love looking at what women wore when they went into factory work during the war; the way fashions changed and ladies had such posters to guide them!

  3. Hi sweet dear, thank you both very much for your great comments, I'm happy to know you enjoyed this wonderful WW2 poster, too.

    CreativSpirit, to answer your lovely question about what got me interested in vintage (images - and all things old school in general), the honest to goodness answer is that I've loved (and been healthily obsessed ;D) with the past for as long as I can remember.

    When I was a little girl (about six) I begged my mom to sew me a poodle skirt (I was already passionate about the 50s), which I then proceeded to wear the moment I got home from school everyday for a good two or three years.

    This is just one cute example of the fact that for as long as I have memories stretching back to, I can remember being wildly fascinated with history, those who came before me, the way society used to be (compared to its present state), and the fashions and trends that comprised different eras.

    As I grew up I never lost my childhood love of the past, instead I parlayed it into being a vintage lover (one who wears vintage clothing, collects vintage items, researches history, cooks vintage recipes, etc), as well as my family's genealogist.

    To me the past is not some sort of murky, distant world, I feel a kinship with it and am elated by the fact that I'm able to share that bond with, and love of, the years that came before me with others through Chronically Vintage.

    Yours in all things vintage,

  4. I love how they tried to keep the femininity and yet provide something that the women could work in at the time period! Its almost like they were saying that you could still be a woman, even if you were doing the "mans" job! Love the Ad thank you for sharing!