Should We Bring Back Clothes Rationing?

by , 10/14/11   filed under: Fashion Artifacts

World War II, clothes rationing, slow fashion, eco-fashion, sustainable fashion, green fashion, ethical fashion, sustainable style, fashion artifacts

It’s been 70 years since living with less was viewed as one’s patriotic duty. But then it was a different time: the Axis and Allies were duking it out across Europe and Asia, and rationing was mandatory even in world superpowers like America and Great Britain. Access to food, gas, rubber, textiles, and even shoes were restricted when resources became increasingly scarce and factories were diverted to the war effort. In the U.K., where clothes rationing was in effect from 1941 to 1949, each civilian received an annual allotment of 60 coupons, a number that later dropped to 48. (Children received an extra 10 to accommodate growth spurts.) You had to be judicious in your selections; a petticoat or slip “cost” three coupons, a woolen dress 11, and a men’s overcoat an extravagant 13. Even a pair of socks required at least one coupon. Coupons only granted you permission to purchase said items, of course; you still needed the financial wherewithal to afford them.

So tell us, is clothes rationing haute or not?

  • 21 Votes HELL NO! I'll buy what I want, when I want.
  • 95 Votes HELL YES! How many "Navajo"-inspired harem pants does one person need?

View Results

World War II, clothes rationing, slow fashion, eco-fashion, sustainable fashion, green fashion, ethical fashion, sustainable style, fashion artifacts

MAKE DO OR DO WITHOUT

Only a decade after the Great Depression, “make do and mend” became a mantra out of necessity. The political situation may be less dire today, but scarcity, coupled with unfettered consumption, continues to be a problem. Inhumane demands, lax workplace standards, and routine abuse are the result of too much expendable income and too little social or moral accountability to rein in our impulses. Shopping has become something we do out of habit, boredom, or because we get a buzz from acquisition.

The political situation may be less dire today, but scarcity, coupled with unfettered consumption, continues to be a problem.

Dressing and adornment are part of the human experience, sociologist and author Juliet B. Schor once wrote. More than a frivolity that embodies our physical appearance, clothing is also a measure of our basic values—our culture. What would you purchase with your 60 coupons today, knowing you could buy nothing else for the rest of the year? And clothes rationing, voluntary or government-mandated, yay or nay?

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2 Responses to “Should We Bring Back Clothes Rationing?”

  1. BalanceSociety (@balancesociety) says:

    We need to find solutions which will provide positive action and a balance to society.

    It is sad to think that we need to be at war with our lifestyles. Surely there is a more sustainable solution? Fashion that is sold as a service rather than a disposable product?

  2. Dede says:

    The theme and the posts really resonate with my phylosophy of less-is-more. Hyper-production and hyper-consumerism in every area of our lives are some of the famines of our age. I yarn for the time when people were savoring their cloths and shoes, products were craftily made with thought and soul and one could still tell these products in the vintage stores today.Dede (DeDesign)

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