Skirt Suit thumbnail 1
Not currently on display at the V&A

Skirt Suit

autumn 1942 (designed)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This is a good example of a Utility Suit. It is from the Utility Collection by the Incorporated Society of London Fashion Designers for the Board of Trade. It may have been designed by Victor Stiebel. The simplification and economy of material match the conditions laid down by the Board in relation to the manufacture of civilian clothing during the Second World War of 1939-1945. Then, both hand-crafted and mass-produced tailoring was as important as it is today. But, despite the best efforts of the fashion designers to be inventive without wasting precious fabric, there was a very limited choice. The Utility Scheme was introduced by the Board in 1941 to ensure that low- and medium-quality consumer goods were produced to the highest possible standards at 'reasonable' prices. These standards complied with restrictions and rationing of raw materials. The word 'Utility' was applied to garments made from Utility cloth, which was defined in terms of minimum weight and fibre content per yard. Utility clothes were usually identified by a distinctive double crescent CC41 (Civilian Clothing) label.

The bloused jacket with square, padded shoulders closely resembles the battledress top of an army uniform. It is Board of Trade pattern no. 33, and the retailers' maxiumum selling price for the suit in 13/13 1/2 oz woollen frieze was £4 2s 2d.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Parts
This object consists of 2 parts.

  • Jacket
  • Skirt
Materials and Techniques
Flecked wool
Physical Description
Navy wool skirt and lighter blue wool battledress style blouson jacket
Dimensions
  • Jacket waist (measured inside garment) circumference: 67cm (Note: Measured by Conservation)
  • Jacket bust (measured inside garment) circumference: 100cm (Note: Measured by Conservation)
  • Jacket nape waist depth: 52.5cm (Note: Measured by Conservation)
  • Jacket across back width: 34.5cm (Note: Measured by Conservation)
  • Jacket sleeve length to elbow length: 46cm (Note: Measured by Conservation)
  • Jacket sleeve length to wrist length: 63cm (Note: Measured by Conservation)
  • Jacket wrist (measured inside garment) circumference: 20.5cm (Note: Measured by Conservation)
  • Skirt waist (measured inside garment) circumference: 62cm (Note: Measured by Conservation)
  • Skirt waist hem depth: 71.5cm (Note: Measured by Conservation)
Credit line
Given by the Board of Trade, through Sir Thomas Barlow, Director-General of Civilian Clothing
Summary
This is a good example of a Utility Suit. It is from the Utility Collection by the Incorporated Society of London Fashion Designers for the Board of Trade. It may have been designed by Victor Stiebel. The simplification and economy of material match the conditions laid down by the Board in relation to the manufacture of civilian clothing during the Second World War of 1939-1945. Then, both hand-crafted and mass-produced tailoring was as important as it is today. But, despite the best efforts of the fashion designers to be inventive without wasting precious fabric, there was a very limited choice. The Utility Scheme was introduced by the Board in 1941 to ensure that low- and medium-quality consumer goods were produced to the highest possible standards at 'reasonable' prices. These standards complied with restrictions and rationing of raw materials. The word 'Utility' was applied to garments made from Utility cloth, which was defined in terms of minimum weight and fibre content per yard. Utility clothes were usually identified by a distinctive double crescent CC41 (Civilian Clothing) label.



The bloused jacket with square, padded shoulders closely resembles the battledress top of an army uniform. It is Board of Trade pattern no. 33, and the retailers' maxiumum selling price for the suit in 13/13 1/2 oz woollen frieze was £4 2s 2d.
Collection
Accession Number
T.46&A-1942

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record createdFebruary 25, 2003
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