If You Like Short Skirts, Thank World War II

War has many unintended consequences (things that happen that no one intended). poster-316690_1280World War II shrunk (made smaller) the skirt.

During World War II, the United States experienced a major change in gender roles (views and responsibilities of men and women). According to the National Archives, every one in three American men left home to serve in the military between 1941 and 1945, and women worked in civilian (not related to the military) jobs out of the home.

These women not only continued to manage their households (homes and the people who live there), but they also worked in factories (large buildings used for making many products for sale), laboratories (where scientific experiments are done), power plants (where electricity and fuel are stored and/or managed), government organizations, and military organizations. The war completely changed the responsibility of women in the workforce (entire population of workers) during these years—and this transformed (completely changed) how they dressed.

Because women were doing more tasks requiring labor (physical activity) like driving trucks, flying military aircraft, and working in shipyards (where ships and boats are built), safety and practicality (suitability for the situation) took precedence (became more important) over glamour (looking attractive) and femininity (being like a woman).

Working women put away their high-heeled shoes and silk (a soft, expensive fabric) dresses and wore cotton shirts and blue jeans instead. They also began pinning (using small, long metal hair clips to fasten) their hair back to avoid getting it caught in the machines used on the job.

During the war, certain materials were reserved (kept for use) for military purposes. And to conserve (use less of) fabric, clothes makers began designing shorter skirts and slimmer (more narrow; less wide) silhouettes (shapes of clothing). Before the war, most women wore panty hose or nylons, a very strong but thin material like a very long sock covering the legs, made from the material also called “nylon.” Because of this, women went barelegged (with no covering over the legs).

By the end of the war, over six million American women had joined the workforce, and nearly one out of every four married women worked outside the home. Although many were replaced by men once the men returned from war, working out of the home changed people’s perceptions (views) of what women could do.

So if you prefer wearing slim and short skirts with bare legs, you have World War II to thank.

~ Lucy

Image Credit:  Rosie the Riveter Poster, War Production Board 1942-43

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7 Responses to If You Like Short Skirts, Thank World War II

  1. Peter says:

    Up here , everything is getting into Christmas spirit akready!!
    Christmas decorations are coming out


  2. Tania says:

    I like talking about fashion. We have many fashion magazines like “Silhouette”, even “Glamour”.
    Glamour is a new word very often used in our fashion magazines.
    We adopted it as “glamour”, and “slim” for slim trousers.
    Yes, for those women with nice legs… a short skirt, not too short, is wonderful, glamour.
    Thank you.

    Best wishes,


  3. Aecio Flavio Perim says:

    Hello Lucy, thanks for the great report about women short skirts. Nevertheless, I have a few restrictions about that. Firstly, was it really important for women?; secondly, wasn’t that use responsible for starting a big fight between men and women?; thirdly, wouldn’t it be better for women to be a housewife instead of being worker at a factory?. I don’t know. The thing I remember is that in Brazil, before women became more independent, men stood for women to sit in a bus, men used to stop the car for a flat tire, men used to give flower to women, men used to give women help for everything they needed. In short, women were seen as the one men had to take care of. I don’t know whether my words are as clear as I mean. I don’t know whether I am not thoughtful about this topic. But the only thing I know is that if I were a women, I wolud rather to go back to old times. I am sorry if I showed myself the wrong way. So sorry.
    From Brazil, the wonderful and chosen and holly and sinless land

  4. Peter says:

    I love World War II for that.:)))

    I couldn’t appreciate more the movement World War II initiated back then.

    Wars always were the source of radical changes in society.inyerstingly enough, according to history books ,most wars brought about advance and development.
    Post wat eras always marked with great industrial and social advancement.

    I believe , World War II is not responsible for showing more skin :))) but it actually indirtrialzed US.post War US experienced economy boost and growth in Almost ever sector and was the becoming of mass production trend that is still going on.

    Hey ,
    Let’s put more women to work :)))


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  5. Hilario says:


    It must scarcely be one of the benefits of such a disaster like a case of a generalized conflagration is, as to solemnize or come out so standingly truth. Women are the bone back of society from remote times.

    An old aunt of mine, she passed from teaching kids to fabricate hand bombs during our Spanish Civil War and after war, the winners rapped and violated her, she was walked head shaved and she was desposed from permit to teach at Public School. She thought freedom of being was about all the things.

    A funny sketch of a Spanish comedian about maleness once said that a democratic poll will be always won by man if the thing was about who does the washing up after dinner or not to invite mother in law for a fortnight.

    This society fraction, slightly less than 50% of the population have been apportioning and supporting the life bottom base line of human life with little support of the slightly high over 50% of Humanity, also called male power.
    Testosterone has proved to be a disastrous chemical drug for human well being. It makes its over affected victims fit well for the wild capitalism. The attitudes focus on the others whoever or wherever be. They can be either women or Jews or no matter if domestic, neighbor or distant people. The are the cause and once and again starting from scratch with a lot of suffering of all through the way and some renewing things.
    American women were this time, more than lucky being laboring at home without battling enemies around, because moreover they suffer in wars the worst part of the war wounds, much worse than shootings or bombs. I remember a sinister quotation from a prestigious economy historicist professor who said that the economic theory of decreasing revenues applied to agricultural crop return, is the same related for human spirit gradual deprivation. Like the great fire at Yellowstone did after was growing new trees, so war also does bringing new things, so people can talk during a long period of time about what was before and after war.

  6. emiliano says:

    No thanks, I don´t want any war despite it could change and if fact changed how women was considered in a men´s world.
    It happened the same in G.B., and other European countries as millions of men were killed and women took the place of these men
    who were fighting or killed.

    Here in Spain, that´s not happened at all after civil war as had said Hillario and what he said of his old aunt was as usual that my mother could see it in her little village and as she told us that were repulsive actions as nearly every other even worst done before, along, and after the Spain´s civil war.

    I do think that second war changed life of women in all countries of Europe as it was a disaster that killed millions of young men
    everywhere and women we so necessary to replace the killed men.

    Sorry Tania but I don´t like fashion at all.
    Usually I dress as I like to dress without having in mind nothing about fashion for young (when I was young) or men when I was not so young.
    Years ago no any man wear the shirt out of the trousers but I did it always, now nearly nine of ten wear the shirt out. Why I did
    that? Because it was more easy and comfortable for me.
    Being a young boy and man, men underwear slips instead of boxers, I didn´t like slips and have to search boxers in shops that were more expensive, too much expensive in fact.
    I didn´t care, I wanted the boxers.
    Now it is the most usual underwear for all kind of men……?

    I don´t care or matter about fashion at all, usually I do and wear what I like or feel more comfortable being my rule nearly, possible for everything?.
    I think so or at less it was what Cuca told me frequently: ” you emiliano always do what ever you like to do”
    it was her sentence, and may be she was right, or not? who knows?. If it could be true I have been or I have tried to be always inside the elementary right actions, of course.


  7. Pete says:

    Perfect timing Lucy ,

    There is this great movie by Mel Gibson released yesterday.
    A great movie. I m confident the movie will be nominated for a score of Oscar awards this year.
    The movie is an biography of this war hero who single handsdly inspires his comrades through his act of heroism.
    He enlists in army to Serve his country during World War II.he is ,in a sense ,an conscientious objector who tried to put the world that is falling apart back a bit togather. Despite all the denigration , discouragement ,and harsh treatment he receives during the boot camp ,he stays true to his conviction. He stands up for what he believes and against all odds his act of heroism in the battle ground Inspires his comrades.

    It is s turn story of a war hero
    I will give the movie two thumbs up
    I bet my bottom dollar that the protagonist will be nonminated in leading actor catogory in Oscars.
    Mel too

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