Suit and coat, Utility Scheme

Suit and coat, Utility Scheme

Suit (jacket and skirt) and coat
Worth London (designer) for the Incorporated Society of London Fashion Designers (collection), for the Utility Scheme
1942
London
Scottish woollen tweed
Museum no. T.42&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. 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.

When offering this jacket and skirt to the Museum in August 1942, Sir Thomas Barlow explained that 'they conform in simplification and economy of material to the conditions laid down by the Board of Trade in relation to the manufacture of civilian clothing'.