In my ongoing effort to show that not all female war workers during World War Two were young, I bring you these two photos from the Office of War Information. The top photo shows two women sorting artillery shells in Philadelphia. The bottom documents a woman cutting off the cotton tops of silk stocking so that the silk could be recycled for war use.
The women in the top photo do not appear to have changed out of their normal clothes for factory work. Indeed, the one above on the right might have come from hosting a tea party with her floral print dress, lacy collar, and broach. Her colleague also looks a little dressed up for the assembly line, although she at least has added an apron to protect her dress. Might they have known the photographer was coming and put on special outfits?
In the second photo, the woman is more practically attired. Her dress is quite plain and she wears no jewelry. Her apron, however, looks like she grabbed from the back of the kitchen chair before she left for work.
I’ve seen factory dress codes for women shipyard workers that were quite specific. Apparently similar rules did not apply to jobs without flying sparks. The artillery factory and recycling plant must have been very colorful, with kitchen aprons brightening up the work space.