Friday, 5 September 2014

The History Wardrobe does WW1 Women

I went last night to see Lucy Adlington and her colleague Merry - 
isn't that a lovely name?
Not sure if it's a short form of something else - anyway - they are
'The History Wardrobe' and last night, they covered women's involvement and fashion in WW1.
This is only a resume and there was such a lot of fashion and working history included, its well worth checking up online, if they are anywhere near you and try and grab a ticket to see them.
I have no affiliation with them, just cant recommend them enough for a giggle and an interesting learning - not quite vaudeville show!
Oh and Lucy always ends up partially stripping down to underwear of the period lol but 'all in the best possible taste' I promise you!

As expected it was a fun and fascinating acting event, where we all learnt a lot and chuckled much along the way.
Lucy is an actress and writer and has published 2 books specifically about women in WW1. Both books are superb.
Though I only bought the cheaper one lol

The one above is the more expensive one at £25 
although as she told us, it is cheaper online : )

(The Book Depository has it listed at only £14 or so!)
I bought the £5 one, yes I know, I'm a cheapskate lol
but it's well worth it!

Apparently when the menfolk volunteered to fight for King and country in WW1 and were sent off to fight in  'the war that would be over by Christmas', women had wanted to get stuck in too and do something to 'serve' their country as well.
But they were told initially to 'go home and knit' socks, balaclavas and gloves by some twit in the Government !
Only so many women and young girls could manage to knit socks with 4 needles and knitting patterns came to light with other useful ideas.
Like the mittens with open ended forefinger and thumb so a gun could be fired more easily.

Lucy explained the historical and social relevance of how war affected women and you are able to see just how it must have changed womens lives.
Of course when the war didn't finish at Christmas, the government then encouraged women to do the work that the missing menfolk had done before.
Ha! and women did all manner of work in factories, on farms, delivered milk and post, made guns, filled shells, and all manner of jobs that had been designated as 'mens work' before the war.

Merry is on the left below and Lucy in night attire on the right.
Most of the clothing they wore throughout is original WW1 and it's amazing they've been able to find so much, you'd have thought most of it would have been long since thrown away!
Ebay is a wonderful place to shop they reckoned lol

Merry may well have been a seamstress so of course lost her work because women had no money to spend on new clothes. She may have been able to make uniforms of course but in this scenario, she became a VAD, a Voluntary Aid Detachment nurse.
 And as a sensitive middle class young woman, must have been thrust into unimaginable heartache and horror, depending on where she was posted.

Lucy being unmarried became a clerical assistant and the classic jacket and A line skirt, length to mid calf, came into fashion.
Here she is in the skirt and blouse, Merry at this point was in (original hat, top and clogs!) munition workers uniform.

An original VAD uniform

Great coats became a bit of a fashion statement and surprisingly trench coats did then too, based on great coat design ........... something I hadn't realised at all!

Vogue had a very elegant VAD nurse on its cover and must have encouraged many middle class young women to become involved.
Vogue is on the right below and on the left is the £5 booklet Lucy has produced.

The little silver matches case beneath the hat had been resued for storing pins!

oh bother, Bloggers' not allowing my skew whiffed pics to post the right way - lean left lol

This hat is made of black crepe and since half the countries women needed mourning clothing Courtholds began to see that man made fabrics might be ideal in the new climate . And thus Rayon was born!

I cannot recommend enough The History Wardrobe, its a fascinating evening and like last night, I'm positive youll fill a hall with some 130+ folks no problem at all!


  1. What a fascinating show. I would love to see that. I've just checked out their events diary and I think I'll try and book tickets in Southampton as I could stay at my brother-in-laws. Thanks for posting

  2. That's a great idea, its worth seeing where they are in the UK, they do get about and are booked up way ahead because they such great value. Hope you get tickets!
    With each era they talk/act out, you learn something new and get a handle on womens life, be they noble or everyday gals.
    Lucy uses info and anecdotes from genuine diaries and stories recounted to her by either survivors or closest family members. Its social history at its most fascinating!
    Do let me know what you see and if you enjoyed it.
    I believe she is back in Hull in October though not sure which era she will be doing for us next.

  3. This looks like a fun program--so interesting! I hope they are able to come to the states some day--I would love the see the clothing up close.

  4. Looks like a great program and how must better it was that they were able to model at least some of the fashions Your description is fascinating too!

  5. Imaginative, unique perspective on history. So much I'd love to see-thank you for
    sharing this!

  6. What a great post, Liniecat! So informative and interesting. I invite you to link it to Hexie Weekend as it has so much to tell us and great eye candy in those photos. Ends Monday midnight. I loved that hat!