Tuesday, 16 February 2016

A Lesson In Creativity

While I'm mostly trying to avoid mentioning the war this week, it is impossible to ignore it fully, as it was a big part of the 40's and influenced society a lot.

I think the biggest impact it had on everyday life (except for the men being away as soldiers, and the fear of being in the middle of a war) was the shortage and rationing of many everyday items.


As you couldn't live fully without many of those things, you had to be creative!
And I find it very inspiring just how creative they could be back then.

In USA  different kind of foods, gasoline, certain kinds of fabrics (nylon, silk etc.) and goods categorised as luxury items (such as hats) were rationed during WWII.


Women, however, were still encouraged to take particular care of their appearance, so what was a women to do if she wanted to be well-dressed but couldn't get new hats, make-up or (gasp) stockings?

Today missing stockings probably wouldn't be a problem, but back then it was a crucial part of a woman's outfit when going out.
The solution: putting make-up on your legs to imitate the colour of stockings. Back then stockings also had a visible seam at the back, so having a steady-handed friend nearby, to draw it on with an eyebrow pencil was necessary. And when you went out, you had to stay out of rain, as the make-up wasn't waterproof.

Lesson for us: Never take your stockings for granted ever again!


If you ran out of make up there were several alternatives:
Beetroot juice was quite popular as a substitute for lipstick or nail polish. (Though I wonder how they got it off again)
And if you ran out of mascara shoe polish and Vaseline would do quite nicely!

Lastly, what was one to do if one needed a new hat? You somehow used the materials that you already had. An example is this educational video that shows how to make a new hat out of scarves:

In Europe the rationing was quite a bit stricter, especially with food!
In Britain, for instance, you were only allowed 1 egg a week! Some of the only foods not rationed was vegetables and bread. So yes, the housewives of Britain had to be creative in the kitchen.
Mock recipes imitating everything from cream (margarine, milk and cornflour) to duck (formed sausage meat with herbs) were popular. And carrots replaced sugar in many things such as pies and lollipops!


In preparation for this post, I watched this documentary called Supersizers go Wartime, where you learn a lot of life during the war in a humorous way, as 2 comedians try to live and eat as people did back then. If you want to know more of strange recipes and mock food, you should try and watch it.


Now, people at home weren't the only one who had to get creative. What about all the manufacturers and brands who had to come up with new ways to make money when their usual goods were rationed?

One example of this that I find really funny are the make up brands. Besides coming up with alternative products they had to adapt to the different needs.
Many women were in the military, and there make up was strictly regulated.
So what did the manufacturers do?
Some specialised in lipsticks in very specific hues of red to match the uniforms of the different corps, and others specialised in compact make up kits that could fit in a uniform chest pocket.


Lastly, there was one other problem that the government had to get creative to solve. With women working in factories the long hairstyles in fashion was a definite security risk.
How to make them voluntarily change their hair? You ask a famous actress to change her hairstyle to one more suited for factory work, and then watch as everybody copies her.

Do you know of other ways people was creative with making do during WWII? I'm sure there were lots more than the ones I mention here.


  1. I've always loved the carrots-on-sticks. :-)

    1. I found that concept really strange when I first heard of it, but it must have been a great way to keep children healthy ;)

  2. It is amazing what they had to put up with and make do without or find substitutes. Necessity was certainly the mother of invention.

    1. So true! The more I learn about the war time the more impressed I am by the sheer imagination of people!

  3. Painting lines on your legs so it looks like you're wearing stockings? Wow. I never heard of that one before.

    Get a famous actress to change her hairstyle and then watch while everyone copies her! Haha! That's too funny!

    Get post, Rose!

    1. It's quite a foreign concept for us today, right? I can imagine it added greatly to the time it took to get ready for a night out.
      I'm glad you liked it!

  4. Oops. What I meant to say was "great" post, not "get" post. ;) (Heehee. I noticed the typo just after I'd clicked the publish button.)

  5. That scarf thing. SO INGENIOUS. It's crazy how much the war affected people's daily lives in the U.S, isn't it? Also, I've heard that turbans became fashionable due to shampoo shortage.

    That picture of those children was precious!<3

    This was fascinating!:)

    ~Rilla Blythe

    1. I love that scarf video too! So much creativity. Yes, it's hard to imagine living without all those things we take for granted.

      I have heard that too. It's great when for once fashion follows neccessity:)

  6. I love that Veronica Lake was willing to forego the hairstyle that helped make her famous to help keep women safe at their wartime jobs. I learned about that years ago, and it's always made me feel very kindly toward her :-)

    1. Yes, it was quite a grand gesture of her! It's nice when celebrities actually use their status as role models to help.

  7. This was so interesting! Especially the stockings! I love learning about the ingenuity of the 40s. It's like doing without for one reason in the 30s turned into doing without for patriotic reasons in the 40s. I'll have to check out that video!

    1. The stockings is also one of my favourites:) Such creativity. It's true - almost everything had a patriotic aspect during that time.

  8. This was so interesting! I knew some of this, but not all. The using carrots instead of sugar was one thing I never heard of! Thank you for sharing. :)

    1. I also only learnt about the carrots when I researched this post, it sure was innovative thinking.
      I'm glad you liked it:)


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