I bought this dress at a car boot sale early last year for £20 (I've worn it a lot, although I've only featured it here once before). It wasn't until much later that, while looking over the seams, I came across the fraying and faded CC41 label.
The CC41 "Utility" label appeared shortly after the introduction of cloth rationing in 1941. Concerned that clothing shortages would lead retailers to raise prices so that only the rich could afford new clothes (which would be bad for morale), the government created the Utility clothing scheme. Under the scheme, the style of garments was subject to austerity regulations, which limited how much cloth was used. Pockets, skirt lengths, trouser turn-ups and cuffs were all restricted, and excessive embellishment banned. Manufacturers were encouraged to produce a limited range of garments and therefore produce longer runs of garments, increasing efficiency.
Artist Reginald Shipp was commissioned to design the iconic CC41 symbol - the two Cs initially stood for Clothing Control, but were later changed to Commodity Control when furniture was added to the scheme.
The clothing was also subject to price regulations, with profits restricted for both the manufacturer and the retailer. The idea was that consumers could look for the CC41 logo and be confident that the clothes would be of good quality and reasonably priced, that they would last and remain smart.
To boost morale and public acceptance of the scheme, top designers including Hardy Amies and Norman Hartnell produced a range Utility Clothing designs in 1942. In October that year, Vogue Magazine wrote, "All women have the equal chance to buy beautifully designed clothes suitable to their lives and incomes. It is a revolutionary scheme and a heartening thought. It is, in fact, an outstanding example of applied democracy".
In keeping with the make do and mend theme, this last month or so I've been making a concerted effort to tackle my mending pile (after realising it contained about half my wardrobe!). This dress only needed a few stitches here and there - true to the aim of the scheme it's held up remarkably well for the last 60+ years.
Outfit details: 1940s "CC41" rayon dress, car boot sale; Shoes, New Look; Vintage fully fashioned stockings, available in my ebay shop; Jacket, Marks & Spencer; Bakelite and plastic bangles, ebay / charity shop; 1940s leather handbag, Squirrel Antiques in Chichester; Crinoline, Marmaduke's in Midhurst.