Thursday 12 June 2014

Forties Fashion #8: Sports and Leisure Wear 1942

By Jove, where have the last two weeks gone, eh?!  Flashed by in a blur of work, play and sunshine, that's what.  Have I forgotten how to do this blogging business, then, or forgotten about you all?  Not bally likely!

With interesting news articles thin on ground again I've nevertheless got a few posts planned over the next week to 10 days and to start off with I thought we'd return to an old series that surprisingly hasn't seen the light of day in over a year - for shame!  It's instalment number 8 from my old 1940s Fashion Sourcebook.  With the sun beaming down on much of the country, Queen's in full swing, Wimbledon just around the corner and some sort of international footballing tournament (if that's your kind of thing) about to start in Brazil so I'm told, today's extract couldn't be better timed, either.  Yes, it's sports and leisurewear 1942-style!

The inconvenience of war was not about to put a stop Britain's enjoyment of sport and leisure, although it did of course curtail it somewhat.  I imagine it must have made it all the more special and enjoyable when day-to-day living was blighted by constraints of wartime and the constant threat of attack.  With the anticipation of maybe a small day-trip to the countryside, or a game of village cricket, your average chap and chapette would have made an extra effort to dress well, but casually and within the confines of clothes rationing, to make the most of their leisure time.  One imagines pre-war '30s fashions adapted for the new purposes and circumstances; we can see as much in the following illustrations.  Speaking of which, anyone for:

Tennis.  Top left wears: white linen dress with button fastening, small collar, buttoned belt, short inset sleeves with stitched cuffs.  Piped pockets; two decorative panels, one from padded shoulders and one from waist continuing to hip-level in flared skirt with concealed pockets in outer panels and wide unpressed box pleats.  White leather shoes.  A classic summer tennis ensemble, one could imagine it being rather a strikingly attractive outfit if the decorative panels contrasted to the white of the dress - perhaps a navy or light blue?

Tennis.  Top right wears: white cotton collar-attached shirt with pointed collar, short inset sleeves, stitched cuffs and a patch pocket.  White linen pleated shorts with turn ups and elasticated cotton belt with clasp fastening.  White cotton ankle socks.  White canvas sports shoes.  A very simple, Fred Perry-esque outfit for the girl's tennis-playing gentleman partner.  While not normally a fan of elasticated belts I can see its benefit here as providing ease of movement.  Pleated shorts with turn-ups are only right, of course, although I'd think twice about inflicting my legs on the general public (in fact I don't think I've worn shorts since my early twenties).  White canvas sports shoes are a sin qua non for the casual sporting look and I've long toyed with the idea of getting a pair, on the off-chance I might one day again try my hand at a few of the more gentler sports - cricket, tennis, badminton - to help improve my damaged health.  Needless to say, that day has still to arrive, but I still find myself glancing at the odd plimsoll now and again.  For those of you who, like me, would prefer that their training shoe does not resemble something out of Back To The Future II and comes without the maker's name splashed across every available surface, Converse is very often the name we will see mentioned and indeed they do a nice line in plain canvas shoes in the traditional style - such as their All Star range. 

Converse All Star Low White Mono Canvas - £44.99 from Office

However I also find myself drawn to the traditional training shoe offering from Charles Tyrwhitt.  Albeit in leather rather than canvas (one could argue the superiority of that) they have an equally timeless appeal about them.

Biscuit Marlow trainers - £79 from Charles Tyrwhitt

Returning to 1942 and (still on the first trio above) we're off on our travels in:

Holiday wear.  Bottom centre wears: dark blue cotton flared pinafore skirt, waistband extended to form shaped bib, wide shoulder straps, self-fabric buckled belt and hip-level patch pockets with mock-buttoned flaps.  Red and blue spotted cotton blouse with notched shawl collar, button fastening, elbow-length sleeves, padded shoulders.  Red straw hat.  Red canvas shoes, peep toes, wedge heels.  A very patriotic colour combination (even more so were it to have some white thrown in - say on the shoes or hat.  Evidence of clothes rationing in the mock-buttoned pocket flaps.  Every girl loves a high-waisted pinafore dress, if the vintage blogosphere is anything to go by, and this one's a pip!

On to the next three and staying with the holiday wear.  Top centre wears: pale blue cotton blouse with small collar, threaded ribbon fastening matching trim on cuffs of short puff sleeves and padded shoulders.  Sleeveless single-breasted checked cotton fitted waistcoat, low scooped neckline, pointed hemline.  Knee-length pale blue cotton gathered skirt, bias-cut band above hemline to match waistcoat.  White leather shoes, crossed straps, low wedge heels.  Something almost dirndl-like about this outfit, or perhaps just the more traditional rural/countrified lookCertainly a wonderfully co-ordinated ensemble with the matching bows and banding/waistcoat.

Quite the country wear outfit for our second dashing chap!  Bottom left wears: brown and tan wool-tweed single-breasted jacket with flap pockets and a single ticket pocket.  Light brown wool trousers, straight-cut, turn-ups.  Brown wool sweater.  Patterned silk scarf.  Brown trilby.  Brown leather shoes.  The perfect rural autumnal look here, with some welcome individual touches like the scarf (a cravat would also work just as well) beneath the wool sweater worn beneath the wool-tweed jacket (crikey, I'm sweating just thinking about it - definitely one for the colder months!).  The jacket (gad, the whole outfit) sounds lovely, with quite a modern-sounding cut.  Still surprised to see turn-ups this far into the war.

For the ladies' country wear, bottom left sports: brown and grey tweed dress, small collar, button fastening, padded shoulders, short inset sleeves, stitched cuffs, patch pockets, buttoned belt and flaps, flared skirt, centre-front box-pleat.  Brown felt hat.  Brown suede gloves and matching shoes.  An equally delightful matching seasonal ensemble for the lady.  I imagine a walk through a country estate awaits this perfectly turned-out girl!

Well, that's it for another selection.  Quite an interesting one again, I think, and in many ways adaptable and reproducible for today.  If only more people would dress in this kind of "sports wear", hmmn?!  We can only hope!


  1. Hello there!
    I can imagine myself being the "perfectly turned-out girl" you've mentioned in your post, since the fashion here is fabulous (ynd, as you well know: we females, we're keen on all things fashion) :D

    My best

  2. Much better than the ghastly monstrosities that pass for sports wear today.
    Although, I am the great sport hater, of all kinds, even thinking about it makes me ill, so there's no way in Hades I'd ever be remotely close to wearing such things!
    Please send some sun our way ; )


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