You may or may not remember me mentioning this - but I'm a retired Commander in the Navy. A bit shocking, I know. As such, I'm a bit obsessed with the uniforms and the changes that occurred specifically to women's uniforms. And, I am surprised at the decrease in quality between the current uniforms (both design, fit and sometimes, construction) as compared to the uniforms women wore in the WWII era. These are two examples of women's uniforms in seersucker from that era. Beautifully tailored.
Women officer uniforms were upgraded during the war years. There had been little precedent for women’s wear in the Navy since World War I; therefore a panel of civilian experts in the design and fashion field was called upon to create a set of uniforms which when devoid of buttons and braid would correspond to a smart businesswoman’s suit. Their efforts resulted in the present single breasted blues and whites worn by women naval officers. The Nurse’s hat continued as a visorless duplicate of the males during this period and the Nurses retained a double breasted blue jacket. (It is interesting to note, however, that women’s regulations were published separately from their male counterparts. It was considered that the great influx of women into the service was only a wartime oddity and would recede when hostilities ceased.)
Women’s uniforms were the same for officer, chief, and other enlisted, differing only in rank identification. Work uniforms included a coverall and slacks for use when the skirt was inappropriate.
Look at the picture below - wonderful piping detail and tailored sleeves.
You can see the princess cut in the back as well - very unusual in uniforms today.
And, some frivolity. The men's mess dress with "hidden" Hawaiian sleeves. Of course, this isn't vintage. Taken from the uniform shop in Pearl Harbor.
I'd like to make a reproduction seersucker suit - it is on my "to do" list. I have a Brooks Brothers modern suit - but it is not at all close to the tailored construction of the 50s.
More on Navy women's uniforms will continue in future posts!