Tag Archives: 1943

Ad Campaign – Cutex Nail Polish, 1943

To Wear in your Country’s Service Cutex Presents “On Duty”

Dedicated to you thousands of WAVES and WAACS, Canteen Workers and War Factory Workers, Ambulance Drivers and Nurse’s Aides who are working for your country…

Is it just me, or do those nails look like weapons?


Filed under Advertisements, World War II

Ad Campaign – Active Modern Shoes, 1943


Fascinating… inspired detail… perfect cut – all help Active Modern Shoes cast a real spell of loveliness upon your feet.

And with the built-in comfort that only Selby Arch Preserver hidden features can give, you won’t want to fly through the air – you’ll love walking.

I imagine that ad writers had a really hard time when it came to pushing the merits of wartime women’s shoes.  Due to the  scarcity of dyes, by 1943 American shoe manufacturers were limited to six colors: navy, black, white, and three shades of brown.  Shoes were made in sturdy styles that were  meant to last and to provide support for the feet of the female workforce.

I know that there will be some disagreement, but to me these are old lady shoes, possibly because in the 1960s old ladies were still wearing similar styles.  I can imagine that the older woman stuck with this style because as the ad points out, they were comfortable.  Look at all that toe room and the nice sturdy heel.  But I really do fail to see the this style would “cast a spell of loveliness” on anybody’s feet.

And is it just me, or does that black model actually look a bit like a witch’s shoe?


October 16, 2013 · 8:03 am

Glamour, May, 1943

From the cover notes:

In previous years, necks this low were usually seen on evening dresses.  Now they come right out in broad daylight and, combined with the briefest of sleeves, signal a new type of day-or-date dress that is this summer’s favorite.

In 1943 it was becoming increasingly necessary for the clothing budget ( and ration coupons) to be stretched as far as possible.  Clothing was often advertised as being multi-purpose, much like this “day-or-date” dress.  And while not exactly office-appropriate, it does seem like just the thing for an afternoon out shopping  or for a  casual dinner date.

This issue of Glamour was full of wardrobe stretching ideas:

* To save wear on your work clothes, change into slacks or hardy cottons when you arrive at home after work.

*  Keep your clothes repaired and clean.  “A stitch in time saves nine.”

*  Cover up the moth holes in your old wool swimsuit with flower appliques cut from colorful cotton.

*  Make a sturdy housedress by adding a skirt to the bottom of an old shirt.

*  Fasten a bunch of fresh flowers to a plain hat.  It’s like a new hat every time you wear it!

Photographer:  Lemus

Model: Not credited

Copyright: Condé Nast


Filed under Fashion Magazines, World War II

Mademoiselle, April 1943

This year’s young bride has a new style – as simple as the wood violets she carries, as fresh as the wood violet cologne she chooses.  Her wedding dress, designed by MLLE, with no train, no veil, and a look of utter innocence, is of imported organdie,  floor length all around, over a rayon taffeta slip.

I chose this cover today partly because of the cap the young bride is wearing.  It is a form of the Juliet cap, which poster Bonnie mentioned she wore to the prom in the 1960s.

As in the 1960s, the 1936 film version of Romeo and Juliet triggered a fashion for the Juliet cap, or calot.  Juliet was portrayed by Norma Shearer, who did justice to the little cap.   It was considered to be a romantic hat for weddings or evening wear, and was often made of lace or mesh.  I know so little about hats that I always turn to Susan Langley and her excellent Vintage Hats & Bonnets 1770-1970, and so thanks to her for the nice information about the Juliet cap.

Photographer:  Jerry Plucer
Model:  Not credited
Copyright:  Condé Nast


Filed under Fashion Magazines

Ad Campaign – Lady Alice – 1943

Wear Your Own Secret Heart Code!

Lady Alice International Signal Flag Shirt

Your heart condition will be a secret to your sisters, but every service man will know how he stands, when you wear your Lady Alice code flag shirt.  One glance and the International Flag Code will subtly send your message.

It’s not unusual to see military themed garments and fabrics in ads  from the WWII period, and here is a prime example.   Lady Alice took the plain open neck blouse and added a touch of whimsey.  There was an “authentic colored signal flag” embroidered on the breast pocket.  Each flag had a actual meaning, but it is easy to interpret them in terms of Girl meets Boy: “Man overboard”, “I require a pilot”, and “I require assistance”.

And I find the Lady Alice interpretation of “I require assistance” – “You’re just a helpless little girl who’s looking for a big strong man to protect her”  to be not only grammatically confusing, but really ironic seeing as how  the very helpless little girl this was being marketed to was most likely working in a factory producing weapons for that big strong man to use in fighting the war.

Lady Alice was part of the California garment industry that emerged in the early 20th century.  It was founded in 1925 by an immigrant from Iceland, Krist Gunderson.  He also started the Lil’ Alice label.  Both labels were used until sometime in the 1960s when the company became known as Alice of California.


Filed under Advertisements, World War II

Currently Reading: Slacks and Calluses

Slacks and Calluses was the result of two high school teachers who decided to spend their summer vacation in 1943 helping out the war effort by working in an aircraft factory.   Constance Bowman Reid was an English teacher, and her friend Clara Maris Allen taught art, and in their spare time that summer they worked together to produce this delightful little book.

When I found this book, I assumed it was a  memoir, written by the pair many years later, but instead they  put the finishing touches on their work after they returned to school that fall, and they were lucky enough to get the book published the next year.  As a result, the book has a freshness and humor that goes with the very recent retelling of a story.

Along with the amazing descriptions of how a giant airplane assembly line actually worked, Slacks and Calluses has a lot of insights as to the fashions of the day.  Most interesting are the attitudes toward women wearing what was still considered in most situations, men’s clothing.

It was bad enough being tired all the time and dirty most of the time, but worst of all the first week was having to go to work in slacks – down Fourth Street where people who knew us acted as if they didn’t, or down Third Street where people who didn’t know us whistled as if they did.

The two friends found that clerks in stores ignored them, other women on the street scorned them  and men on buses would not surrender their seats to them like they did to women wearing skirts.

It was a great shock to C.M. and me to find that being a lady depended more on our clothes than upon ourselves… This summer we found out that it was not out innate dignity that protected us from unwelcome attentions, but our trim suits, big hats, white gloves, and spectator shoes.  Clothes, we reflected sadly, make the woman – and some clothes make the man think he can make the woman.

Some women in the factories, the “women’s counselors” and nurses, were allowed to wear skirts. Constance and C.M. “hated” those women.

On the positive side, the two did not have to worry about their figures that year, as all the walking just getting to their spot on the assembly line was sufficient exercise, and then the job itself was quite physical.

Slacks and Calluses is a light, fun read that gives a view of WWII that is rather hard to come by.  In the updated version, Reid wrote an epilogue, in which she says she was a bit embarrassed by the book.  That is because she went on to write books about math and number theory and became quite renowned for this work.  She died in 2010 at the age of 92.


Filed under Currently Reading, World War II

Ad Campaign – Moc-Abouts 1943

So soft they’re like putty in your hands; yet so sturdy that your kid brother couldn’t wear them out.  These impish moccasin-oxfords were styled by A.G. Spalding for Kay’s Newport… and they’re about the most wonderful shoes afoot.

I’m still in a moccasins sort of mind.  I was actually hopeful that I’d find an ad for my own Philflex Sporties, but I came up empty.  But one interesting observation from looking at dozens of shoe ads from 1938 through 1946 was that sport shoes like these were heavily advertised.  And note that the ad points out how these will be hard to wear out.   That was very important by 1943 when shoes were getting harder and harder to replace.

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Filed under Advertisements, Shoes