It is often forgotten that military formal uniforms are as much fashion and design driven as they are to provide uniformity to their wearers. One area where it is extremely obvious is in the development of women’s uniforms in the military air forces of World War Two. This is because of the newness of putting a whole sector of the population into uniform for the first time – and the recognition by all that the look of the uniform was a fashion decision as well, vital for successful future recruitment – something managed, but not admitted, for men’s uniforms.
From this excellent blogpost here, entitled “WW2 Air Force Uniforms for Canadian Women” we can see the challenges and failures of the early versions of the Canadian airwomen uniforms and the later improvements – where aesthetics and design were as important as practicality. It’s worth noting almost exactly the same process (of impractical and unflattering uniforms being developed into practical, popular – and importantly – uniforms that would encourage women to join up) was gone through by most British Commonwealth air arms as well as the Americans.
(There’s a lot that can be said about the recruitment poster above, but that’ll keep for another day.)
Beryl McPhee looking glamorous at No. 6 Bombing and Gunnery School, RCAF Mountain View, near Belleville, Ontario.
James Kightly, Vintage Aero Writer.
Images and ideas from “WW2 Air Force Uniforms for Canadian Women” here. Well worth a visit.