Suit (jacket and skirt)
Victor Stiebel (1907-76, designer), for the Utility Scheme
Museum no. T.46&A-1942
Given by the Board of Trade, through Sir Thomas Barlow, Director-General of Civilian Clothing
This is a good example of a Utility Suit. It is from the Utility Collection by the Incorporated Society of London Fashion Designers for the Board of Trade. It may have been designed by Victor Stiebel. The simplification and economy of material match the conditions laid down by the Board in relation to the manufacture of civilian clothing during the Second World War of 1939-1945. Then, both hand-crafted and mass-produced tailoring was as important as it is today. But, despite the best efforts of the fashion designers to be inventive without wasting precious fabric, there was a very limited choice. The Utility Scheme was introduced by the Board in 1941 to ensure that low- and medium-quality consumer goods were produced to the highest possible standards at 'reasonable' prices. These standards complied with restrictions and rationing of raw materials. The word 'Utility' was applied to garments made from Utility cloth, which was defined in terms of minimum weight and fibre content per yard. Utility clothes were usually identified by a distinctive double crescent CC41 (Civilian Clothing) label.
The bloused jacket with square, padded shoulders closely resembles the battledress top of an army uniform. It is Board of Trade pattern no. 33, and the retailers' maxiumum selling price for the suit in 13/13 1/2 oz woollen frieze was £4 2s 2d.