Monday, May 25, 2009

Mainbocher and the WWII Navy WAVES Uniform

It's Memorial Day here in the US, a day when we remember our women and men who have died in military service.

Did you know that the uniforms for the Navy WAVES were designed by Mainbocher? The first uniforms for the armed services designed by a well-known designer, they received much media coverage. The dress blue and white uniforms consisted of a tailored jacket and a six-gore skirt.

Mainbocher's design was distinctive with it's use of a rounded collar layered over a pointed lapel.

The side-brimmed hat came with interchangeable white or navy covers.

A navy overcoat was also part of the uniform.

Mainbocher also designed the WAVES summer working uniform of a grey seersucker dress with matching jacket, which had the same distinctive collar design.

Ads featuring women in uniform were prominent during the war years. This ad for Celenese Fabrics features a Navy nurse in a uniform made from one of their new synthetic fabrics which was designed for war use, but could be purchased for home sewing.

This ad for Mary Sachs, a store in Harrisburg, PA, offers "Service for Women who Serve". The store offered custom fitting and tailoring of uniforms and also sold WAVES, WACS, and Army Nurse uniforms by mail order.


Past Perfect Vintage Clothing said...

I once found one of the winter uniforms in unworn condition without insignia. It was beautifully designed and looked more like a very stylish suit on the hanger than a uniform!

Gladys said...

I worked with an old Navy Nurse when I was young. She still had all of her WWII uniforms. I wonder what happened to them. They were gorgeous and she was still slim enough to wear them.

Couture Allure Vintage Fashion said...

The uniforms are highly collectible today, and often sell for over $200 on EBay, depending on condition.

Tamsen Ellen said...

You stamp the photos on your blog with CoutureAllure so that others cannot use them, and that's fine, but since you don't credit them, you've actually stolen them yourself. You should really credit photos unless you've taken them yourself.

davequ said...

My mother was a WAVE and my sister has pictures of her in her uniforms - she was an ONI codebreaker during WWII assigned to the Naval Annex on Nebraska Avenue in Washington DC.

She passed away about 12 years ago.

Thanks for the piece, it brought back lots of memories.

John said...

My dad's sister was in the WAVES in the late 50s,early 60s. I can remember how beautiful and polished she was in his navy blue uniforms, high heels, gloves. I remember when we took her to the airport people would star and would often come up and comment on her looks.

Tammi Jean said...

I wore this uniform when I joined the Navy in 1973. It became obsolete in 1976 when the Navy went to a black polyester undertaker's uniform.

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