Of Clothing, Cloth and Footwear
From June, 1941
Rationing has been introduced not to deprive you of your real needs, but to make more certain that you get your share of the country's goods - to get fair shares with everybody else.
When the shops re-open you will be able to buy cloth, clothes, footwear and knitting wool only if you bring your food ration book with you. The shopkeeper will detach the required number of coupons from the unused margarine page. Each margarine coupon counts as one coupon towards the purchase of clothing and footwear. You will have a total of 66 coupons to last you a year; so go sparingly. You can buy where you like and when you like without registering.
Thanks for your incredible comments and support! I’m excited to begin my Fashion on the Ration challenge. So I’ve got 66 coupons and here’s what this can buy me:
Common garments, coupon price if bought new
Winter coat 14
Jacket, blazer, short coat 11
Dress, wool 11
Dress, non-wool 7
Blouses, tees 5
Pair of boots, shoes 5
Fabric, yard, wool 3
Fabric, yard, non-wool 2
Mid-war, coupons fell to 48 a year and by 1945 clothing coupons were as low as 36 a year. Sewing notions were not rationed nor were second-hand clothes below a certain threshold. Susannah helped me out on this one. Using the Measuring Worth calculator, she used these modern-day equivalents of price thresholds:
Common garments, price ($) threshold for second-hand
Winter coat 45
Jacket, blazer, short coat 20
Dress, wool 41
Dress, non-wool 26
Blouses, tees 15
Pair of boots, shoes 15
Susannah adds, “The interesting thing is that the government set these price thresholds fairly low to prevent merchants from selling new clothing as secondhand, but clothing in 2011 is so incredibly cheap compared with clothing in the 1940s that you could easily stock a modern wardrobe with new clothing that didn't exceed these price limits.”
Indeed! When I look at these numbers—in pounds, as converted to the dollar would be even more generous—it's glaringly clear how much the price of clothes has plummeted. I've always known we both pay less and buy more than our grandmothers, but does this surprise you too?
So now here's my dilemma: I don't think it will be any trouble to stick within these limits. In fact, buying a few new things and a whole bunch of thrifted clothes sounds like business as usual. I usually pick up clothes for much less than $10 an item. (Typical non-sale prices at area thrift stores: $5.99 for a blouse, $7.99 skirts/pants, $8.99 dress, and $19.99 for a winter coat. Not to mention 50 percent off sales abound.) Further, I live in a place chock full of great second-hand stores without any real inclement weather.
What would you do? Would you lower these secondhand price thresholds to make it a real challenge? Would you simply try to buy "in spirit of" the ration (focus on quality, useful clothing)? Any ideas?
By the way, a shout out to the boy (a graphic designer) for listening to me prattle on about my new challenge and designing a little bling for the ol 'blog, at left. And a few of you expressed interest, so by all means join me if inspiration strikes!