Thursday, July 23, 2009

40s Factory Inspiration

Let's talk about my hair woes. Although I love the pixie cut, the truth of the matter is that it lacks variety. I miss the days when I could choose different hair styles to suit my mood-- braids, curls, half ponytails, headbands, barretts, hair accessories in general... The nice thing about this haircut is that it looks good messy, a must for lazy people like me, but sometimes I don't feel like being messy. Sometimes I want to look put together and yet still the busy lady I am. 

Which is why I have been borrowing looks from the busy working ladies of the wartime 40s! What better way to hide your hair on off-days while still looking sharp and expressing yourself? It's amazing how wrapping a piece of cloth around your head can slice right through the monotony of seeing your reflection with the same old haircut every day. I'm sure people who know me from flickr have already noticed my newfound devotion to the 40s/50s headscarf turban seeing as I rarely leave the house without one these days. At least I know my friends and coworkers have noticed, as I have been receiving lots of "I Love Lucy" references.


I absolutely love the headscarfs and turbans popularized during and after World War II. Not just for the I Love Lucy washer woman, you can see how chic they could really be in these high fashion photographs. The last picture came from Vogue in 1953, but like so many trends, the headscarf really came into play for practical reasons. 

At the beginning of WWII, women were encouraged to come work in the factories to help fill the labor gap left by enlisted men, and the scarfs were worn simply as a method of keeping hair clean and out of machinery.  I'm sure everyone is familiar with the Rosie the Riveter image, which captured my imagination growing up (particularly the Norman Rockwell painting), and indeed headscarfs like hers became the symbol of the Woman Ordinance Worker (W.O.W) and a source of pride. Check out these other propaganda posters of the time period that inspired contemporary women of the 1940s as well as myself!

But probably most inspiring of all are the real live Rosies that actually populated the factories! These propaganda posters and the amazing color photographs below are from the Library of Congress, which I highly recommend for perusal if you're an old picture lover like me. What would it have been like to go from a shut-away house wife to an empowered figure of strength with a real patriotic duty to fulfill? It must have been exciting. I'm sure the real issue came in trying to send these ladies back to the kitchens once the war was over. How could you ever find pastry baking interesting after building fighter planes?

Not that I have anything on these tough cookies, but I like to think I can channel at least some of their energy and attitude by wearing my fun versions of their serious headgear. To spice it up, I've been adding vintage pins and even made some poor attempts at pincurls, although I don't know how they achieved those amazing fluffy bangs peeking out. 

If you're having a bad hair day, try a turban on for size! I highly recommend some 40's factory Inspiration.
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