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Sage wardrobe

In January 2013, Nik of Little House in Town and I launched the Wartime Wardrobe Challenge. We committed to living with wartime clothes rationing for a year. We adopted the wartime coupon system introduced in the United Kingdom in 1941 (with an extra twist to penalise garments made with fibres that are ‘less environmentally friendly’). Sixty-six clothing coupons would have to last us twelve months.

The purpose of the project was not to replicate wartime living but to learn more about:

  • where our clothes come from, both in terms of the fibres, their environmental footprint and the working conditions of those who make our clothes;
  • an industry that is generally inherently wasteful in its processes and creates wants rather than responds to needs; and
  • ourselves, including our identity, relationship with things, skills and priorities.

We were joined by bloggers in the United Kingdom and the United States, each of whom added a twist based on circumstances. One of us got married on rationing; another experienced rationing after having given birth to her first child; all of us learnt a lot about the clothing industry, ourselves and our skills.

At the end of 2013 I decided to stick with clothes rationing for at least another two years (a challenge, but nothing compared to the eight years endured by British women during and after the war). Other bloggers have picked up the baton too, including a lady in the United States who has expanded the challenge to soap and tea rationing and a cohort in Sweden. My experience has featured in Pretty Nostalgic‘s special edition for the Goodwood Revival and I am currently writing a book inspired by this experiment.

All posts related to my clothes rationing experiment are categorised under Wartime Wardrobe Challenge, with other adventures in fabric and  yarn categorised under Wool, cotton and lace or check out the sample below:

The Wartime Wardrobe Challenge: sustainable & ethical explorations

The small matter of support

Choice and identity

Magic or engineering? The alchemy of socks