Malhamdale Local History Group    


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Utility Costume – 1941

Land Girls outside Settle hostel wearing typical "Utility" style costumes.






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Utility Clothing

Utility clothing was introduced towards the end of 1941 as raw materials, cloth, wool, leather etc were in short supply, and it was necessary to keep the price of clothing down so that civilians could afford items of reasonable quality. 

The Government took control of the import and manufacture of raw materials and supplied the cloth to the manufacturers, who were encouraged to make a limited range of garments, thereby getting increased efficiency, but reducing the choice available to the buyer.  Government regulations also controlled how much cloth could be used, pockets were restricted, the length of men’s shirts was specified and a ban was introduced on the turn ups on men’s trousers.

Image Was the mark stamped on utility clothing, sometimes called the cheeses or piecrust.  The clothing was also subject to price regulations, with profits restricted for both the manufacturer and the retailer.  To purchase utility clothing it was necessary to use clothing coupons.  Anyone getting married or setting up home had to save, beg and borrow points to buy clothes and bedding.  The scheme was later extended to include furniture and continued until well after the war, finally ending in 1952.

In order to conserve coupons, people were encouraged to ‘Make Do and Mend’, by unpicking old jumpers to re-use the wool, cutting adult clothes down for children and revamping items with embroidery or old lace.  Classes and demonstrations were held to give ideas and encouragement.

Parachute silk was in great demand for making underwear, and magazines published patterns for its use.  Stockings were in short supply so women drew lines down the back of their legs with pencil to resemble the seams in stockings.


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