The military has long been associated with the fashion industry
In developing the ATB, the military worked with professional fashion designers and solicited input from female soldiers to refine the design. According to ATB clothing designer and project her leader Ashley Cusson, being dressed to feel good not only affects an individual’s mental health, but also “has an impact on their overall preparation and performance level.” It gives you so much that you can focus on your mission.”
The move to create the ATB, along with other changes to the dress code implemented last year, are being touted as part of an effort by the military to increase inclusivity and accommodate a diverse workforce and different needs of soldiers. This development suggests that the military, a traditionally conservative and masculine institution, has finally adopted a more sensible perspective on the needs of women.
But really, the creation of ATB is the latest chapter in the long entanglement between the fashion industry and the military. This spurred the Army’s attention to the appearance of its soldiers, especially female soldiers.
During the American Civil War, demand for hundreds of thousands of standardized uniforms catalyzed the ready-to-wear industry, revolutionizing post-war menswear. By 1916, it had changed the silhouette, bringing new trends to fashion. This also shaped the style of her nurse uniform, the first women’s uniform issued by the military.
During World War II, as part of a national mobilization effort, the War Production Commission issued the L-85 Order restricting civilian use of fabrics, clothing, and accessories to conserve military materials. . By order, fashion designers have found creative ways to get around it, such as using zippers instead of buttons and introducing the now-popular trend of flats modeled on ballet flats that are out of distribution. I found a way.
World War II also made the issue of women’s uniforms and the proper appearance of female soldiers urgent. WAAC) and Women Accepted by Volunteer Emergency Services (WAVES). These women needed uniforms that fit their bodies and allow them to perform their duties comfortably.
Initially, the Quartermasters Office (OQMG), which oversaw the development of the women’s uniform, thought that a few adjustments to the men’s uniform would be enough. It wasn’t.
After a year of missteps and failure to deliver satisfactory results to military women (almost 70% of uniforms had to be changed), OQMG appointed Dorothy Shaver (then vice president of department store Lord & Taylor). ) decided to adopt consultant. Shaver brings more than her expertise in women’s clothing and manufacturing. She also argued that women’s military uniforms should not imitate men’s uniforms, but should be inspired by civilian sportswear and the “American look,” which emphasizes practicality and independence. He proposed a feminist approach.
Shaver’s perspective was most evident in the design of the Army Nurse Corp wrap dress. This was a garment that could be tailored to individual body types for precise sizing with minimal alterations. Beginning in 1942, the military supplied trousers to women working in motor transport and pilot service units, and by 1944 slacks were a staple of all WAAC units.
Known as a big proponent of American fashion, Shaver commissioned some of America’s best haute couture designers, including Philip Mangone, Molly Parnis and Maine Bocher, to create military uniforms. Knowing that every woman who joined the military would get a designer outfit, their coveted designs became a useful recruitment tool. , as civilian women attempted to copy them, the U.S. Navy issued a warning, reminding the public that “a thoughtless person who appropriately uses the distinctive design of a military uniform violates federal law.” Now you can
In the 1940s, military uniform designers sought to create clothing that was aesthetically pleasing while keeping functionality in mind. This was to counter government efforts to convince both military command and the general public that serving in the military does not make women more masculine. To this end, the Army discouraged WAAC women from sporting “too short” hair or adopting a look registered as “butch,” instead keeping to a minimum hair length and makeup. In this connection, the L-85 regulation did not cover red lipstick, nor did the government distribute it. Even though lipstick contained ingredients necessary for military purposes. Similar to hair and makeup, designers and military commanders believed that a well-designed uniform would give women a feminine look and feel and provide them with sufficient comfort to do their job well.
The fashion industry has also benefited from working with the military. As the military strived to streamline uniform production, it initiated a program to measure and standardize sizes. Couture designers also took inspiration from military styles, creating their own versions of uniforms for the runway, transforming the style of female soldiers and war veterans into beauty ideals.For example, 1944, Harper’s Bazaar featured Claire Potter’s velveteen overalls, “precisely cut like a mechanic’s suit,” as a chic choice for the fashion-savvy woman.
During the Cold War, when women became a permanent part of the military, initially as part of the Women’s Corps (WAC), the military continued to focus on creating comfortable and practical uniforms, and the WAC members to maintain beautiful and feminine attire. look. However, once the WAC was disbanded in her 1978 and women were integrated into the male force and later incorporated into combat roles, efficiency became more important than femininity. In the process, the military has left behind the specific needs of female soldiers.
Even if it took the military some time to understand that bras are part of a soldier’s tactical equipment, recent ATB design efforts show that the military has received the memo. Much like the uniforms of the 1940s, the civilian market offers both ATB knowledge and inspiration. Much like the original sports bra, which was touted as a feminist clothing item in the 1970s, today’s military uses fashion to enhance its image and appeal to recruits.
It may be a while before we see commercial takes on ATB in stores, but as our long history of military involvement in fashion trends shows, this day is probably far away. I don’t think so.