VIDEO: Make Do and Mend, World War II-Style

“Make do and mend” was an oft-repeated mantra in 1940s Britain, when manufactured commodities were in scant supply and clothes rationing became a vital part of the British war effort. Coinciding with a Board of Trade exhibition at Harrods in London, the Ministry of Supply produced a clip that demonstrated the new “substitution and conversion” economy, including a patchwork dressing gown made from scrap material, a shift-dress derived from old plus-four trousers, and a baby cot improvised from sackcloth slung between a pair of chairs. Our forebears displayed the stiff upper lip with a dash of humor and wit. “For the ladies you may be reassured that all garments made in ‘make do and mend’ are entirely exclusive,” the female announcer exhorts. “To the men, lock up you favorite old clothes before you leave home in the morning.”

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