Dress, Utility Scheme

Dress, Utility Scheme

Dress
Charles Creed (1909-66, designer), for the Utility Scheme
1942
London
Rayon crepe, with buttons
Museum no. T.60-1942
Given by the President of the Board of Trade

In 1942 the British Board of Trade commissioned ten members of the recently formed Incorporated Society of London Designers to create a collection of regulation day wear under the auspices of the Utility scheme, an austerity measure introduced by the Board of Trade during the Second World War, when clothes were rationed. Smart yet practical, this shirtwaister - a kind of tailored shirt-dress - was the only black garment in the designer Utility collection.

The rayon crepe dress has all the characteristics of wartime clothing - broad shoulders (shaped by heavy flock pads), a skirt length just below the knee and a square silhouette, but it also has also eye-catching details, such as bold lapels and a roomy pocket set diagonally on the left hip.