Parachute dress – memery

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Parachute dress

Parachute dress

Parachute dresses are one of the most interesting pieces of World War II fashion history we have. They tell a story of shortage, resistance and the continuity of major life events like weddings during wartime. This parachute dress is from my personal collection and was used as a ball gown in the late 1940s. The parachute it is made of was found in western jutland during WWII. 

During World War II, there was a shortage of many things. Among the scarce resources was fabric. If one was fortunate, they might come across a used parachute discarded by a soldier who had bailed out of a plane. Parachutes contained many meters of fabric, and people quickly became creative with it. 

Most parachutes were constructed by an artificial fabric, presumably a sort of early  nylon, which was thin but very strong.

The dress has a row of fabric covered buttons on each shoulder

Most commonly, parachute fabric found its way into wedding dresses or confirmation dresses. Some people dyed it, enabling the dress to be repurposed as a regular party gown, like this dress from my personal collection, which has been dyed a beautiful rose color.

The dress also has a matching belt and purse

Using parachute fabric did pose a significant risk. There was a possibility that the people with the parachute fabric also had helped the British soldier who had jumped the parachute, which of course was illegal. Consequently, many opted to use parachute fabric for undergarments, as they were more discreet than dresses. For this reason many people also saved the fabric until the end of the war, and used it in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s.

The parachute dress from my personal collection is dyed in a beautiful rose color and has a cute matching handbag and belt. Small fabric covered buttons are placed at the shoulders and it is closed in the side of the waist with four small press studs. 

It is styled with my 1930s inspired gold Marlene shoes from memery.

💕 Mette

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