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Lady Violette

The Romantic Lifestyle

Another Cold Rayon WWII Era Dress

January 13th, 2024 by violette

Cornflower Blue Floral Print Cold Rayon Long Dress  – 1940’s

A gorgeous historically significant 1940’s Cold Rayon Dress from WWII Era in an iconic multi-directional print of flowers and green leaves including yellow carnations, pink cosmos and white flocks . 

This garment was a long, but casual dress – a housedress, or a day dress. Such a dress could also be worn casually at the beach. It is a long graceful garment  made of light weight airy fabric. A cool and comfortable garment perfect on a hot day.

During the war fabrics were rationed and prints were cleverly designed to be multi-directional so that laying out and cutting pattern pieces could utilize as much of the yardage as possible. Rationed yardage allowed no more than 4yds for a dress. And it was usually only 36” – 39” wide.  Every inch of precious fabric was utilized in these clever dress designs. 

Rationing dictated the wartime silhouette and influenced the fashions. Dresses were narrow and featured short sleeves, high necklines and slim skirts. Clever cutting and seaming was utilized to embellish this basic shape. Bodices were closely fitted and the waistline was often slightly dropped below the natural waist to create a long waisted line through the torso. This made a woman look taller and narrower. 

This blue floral print dress has shirred gathering on the shoulders and a V-shaped neckline – a popular style of the times.  The waist shaping is created via long inch wide stitched down tucks through the torso running from the under bust to the hips. These tucks draw in the waist and upon release create soft and flattering fullness through the bust and skirt!  The waist is emphasized further by a self fabric sash style belt tied at the natural waist. 

The softly gathered long skirt features a sloped hemline 2” shorter in the front than back thus creating a graceful feminine silhouette. The short and fluttery little kimono sleeves are set in. 

* Fun Fact: The word Kimono actually means short sleeved in Japanese!

In and Out: An innovative 25” long metal zipper runs down the front if the dress expertly concealed in the center front seam – except for the little silver pull tab which you see at the center front of the v-shaped neckline. This was a very modern form of garment closure during this time period and I can imagine it was rather fun and tantalizing to show off how your zipper worked! The little silver pull tab is actually cute at the point of the V. I would consider wearing some delicate  silver jewelry to subtly accent it! Perhaps a slim silver bangle bracelet and delicate silver earrings.

The necklace shown with the dress is a vintage Venetian glass string of graduated beads peppered with goldstone and is period appropriate. I would accessorize this dress with a wide brimmed straw hat and a straw bag decorated with embroidered straw flowers in the colors of the dress and a pair of beige straw period appropriate wedge heeled sandals. I might add a pair of delicate silver earrings and a silver bracelet to co-ordinate with the silver-colored, modern at the time, metal zipper. Why not call attention in a subtle way to this modern closure?

This dress (for sale on Etsy and my other stores) and other rare and beautiful historic dresses and other clothing and accessories are for sale in my online shops:

Ebay: ladyviolettedecourcy

Etsy: LadyVioletteBoutiqe

Poshmark: cocoviolette 

Fashion Conservator: Lady Violette Boutique 

Waist shaping via 1″ tucks released under bust and at hip to create soft gathers and a self tie belt…..

Darts in bodice extend down from shoulders and up from waist to shape trim fitted back ……

Darts at top of skirt give a slim close fit through the hips. Hemline is sloped – 2″ shorter in front than back creating interest at the ankles via an asymmetric hemline…..

Shirred shoulder softens bodice front – note multiple rows of shirring in decorative stitch pattern….

Short and fluttery Kimono sleeve – a dainty and popular fly away sleeve taking little fabric…..

Long slim lines made women look slimmer and taller giving an illusion of increased height….

Fitted bodice, belted waistline, slim skirt, sloped hemline, and fluttering fly-away Kimono sleeve all contribute to a soft and feminine wartime silhouette…..

Popular V-neckline with novel front metal zipper closure was new and modern at the time ……

Long zipper, also known as a “continuous metal clothing closure”, was beginning to be used in manufactured clothing. It saved time in dressing compared to doing up 25 tiny buttons with loop button holes and a buttonhole hook – helpful during air raids if you had to suddenly jump out of bed and get to a bomb shelter….

Finally it all comes together in a soft slim feminine day dress using less than 4 yards of 36″ cold rayon material thus conforming to wartime fabric rationing requirements while flattering the wearer. Note the multi-directional print which allowed pattern pieces to be placed facing in any direction on the fabric wherever they could be fitted – thus eliminating fabric waste……


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