During the Second World War, most combatant countries had rationing programs that included clothes and textiles. A bibliophilic friend from England sent me this wonderful little pamphlet, Smart Accessories to Make from Bits and Pieces, for Christmas. Filled with reprinted articles from British Vogue, it contains tips to expand ones wardrobe with leftover fabric. “Accessories, the best tonic for tired clothes, are both expensive and scarce, so if you’re clever you’ll make them yourself. We show you designs on which you can use up left-over pieces, saving money, saving, waste, and saving coupons.” In it are patterns for dickeys (“these saving graces can be made economically from scraps from your piece bag”), mittens, hand bags, and any number of hats.
Among the many options, these snoods and kerchiefs caught my eye. Hat substitutes that completely the head became very popular during World War Two, maybe because women had many new responsibilities and less time for personal care. Their simple structure might also have been part of their appeal. This snood only required a small square of fabric and some elastic for construction. The “peasant head-line” was even easier—simply a scarf tied at the front and back, with the folds arranged at the side like a triangle. “There are more ways than one of wearing a peasant handkerchief on your head,” says the text, “so when you get tired of the Russian style, try something fresh and pretty.”
These head coverings were popular with women of all ages, but for the older crowd they might have had an additional appeal—they could be arranged to cover the gray, an instant alternative to hair dye.