It's common knowledge that during WWII, many women had to 'Make Do And Mend' and even though my month-long charity ration diet only extends to my food (thank God!) it still gets me thinking about other products, especially toiletries.
During the war, Max Factor stopped making their normal cosmetics and instead made camouflage make-up for troops, Stratton stopped making lipstick casing and instead made munitions casing... I wonder how we'd feel if our favourite mascara was suddenly just unavailable and we had to mix charcoal and Vaseline together to put on our lashes instead?
But the really big one is stockings. Remember, it wasn't only fashionable for women in the 1940's to wear stockings, it was proper. They didn't walk around like women do nowadays with their thongs sticking up over their Juicy Couture tracksuit waistbands or with their skirts so short you could see what they'd had for breakfast... They were more modest. To not wear stockings meant you were half undressed - a bit like like going out in your work-clothes and slippers.
That's why wartime women went to such great lengths to achieve the look of stockings. Initially, with nylon being rationed, a leg-tan cream was produced (by Max Factor). It had the added benefit of being manufactured too thick, so it went even further because it could be watered down by the consumer. Eventually Max factor caught on and thinned it down.
But soon even that was too difficult or expensive to get hold of so women were very industrious and used gravy browning or tea bags to stain the legs, then drew a 'seam' down the back with eyebrow pencil or eyeliner. You could either get a friend to do it or rub the pencil down something long and straight, like a 30cm ruler, and 'press' it into the leg. It seems the gravy browning method was more popular, despite the fact that it used to attract flies in the heat! Also you'd have to wash it off before bed. We all know the biscuity horror smell of 'fake-tan' sheets...imagine if that was gravy?
I also do like the modern interpretation of this, a tattoo of a stocking seam on the back of the legs.
I'm obsessed with the idea of getting it done, although I won't because it would limit my stocking selections and I'm obsessed with them too. Perhaps I should just draw them on sometimes.... As if I have that kind of patience!!
So this post is for the women - determined, resourceful inventors of the Victory Roll, we salute you xox