Clothing Choices, 1941 and Today
There's much being written (Cheap and A Year Without "Made in China" are two recent examples) these days about the ethics behind the quality and quantity of what we buy and consume--including clothing. So when I came upon this 1941 wardrobe survey in Design for Living, I wanted to share it.
Design for Living: The Magazine for Young Moderns was launched in September 1941 and offered its readership of college women features on fashion, careers, food, etiquette and dating, wartime work, and campus life. The Campus Poll pictured here appeared in the magazine's very first issue, and it caught my eye both for its graphic presentation and for the details it reveals about what the "Miss Average College Girl" owns and wears. Revealing that the average young woman spent $240.33 a year on clothes in September 1941, it further reports that "the sweater is still old faithful, and that a college girl spends 75% of her waking hours in the sweater skirt ensemble." There is no differentiation between handmade clothing and purchased items in this survey, but I suspect that some of these women's wardrobes included items that they made themselves (and there are articles elsewhere in Design for Living about sewing for oneself).
I like knowing that these students maintained a "uniform" of a sort, and I suspect that many of us do today as well. And speaking of uniforms, The Uniform Project is one of a handful of intriguing and inspiring creative projects by artists whose work encourages us to consider fashion without consumption and to question how buying or making one's own clothes alters the conversation about creativity and stewardship. Another thought-provoking and interesting project that I can't get enough of is MakeShift. And I was recently tipped off to The Great American Apparel Diet. Do you have a favorite wardrobe consumption/creation project that you follow? And whether you make your own clothes or buy them readymade, do you set limits or define parameters for what goes into your wardrobe?