It’s that time of year when dressing like Rosie the Riveter becomes popular and even though Rosie was a riveter, she would have dressed the same had she been a welder. Safety gear, and proper clothing has always been important….
The iconic image of Rosie we all gravitate to was not only strong and capable, but also a sweet, sexy, and stylish woman. Kind of the ideal woman (welder). But did you know there were practical reasons for women dressing for work the way they did?
Fashions were influenced by the safety needs of women working in factories and some were influenced by the fact that many resources were being rationed during World War II.
Here’s an excerpt of Safety Clothing for Women in Industry: special bulletin No. 3 of the Women’s Bureau (.pdf) :
The Well-Dressed Woman in Industry is a Safe Worker
Safety clothing is designed for its attractiveness as well as its utility. It has become fashionable to dress and act so that accidents cannot happen. The girl who is afraid to carry a mirror lest she bring bad luck by breaking it has become the girl who knows that accidents have definite causes that can be avoided.
Even though I find these old bulletins and safety posters amusing, I can’t help but be a little offended– did women of the 1940s really need to be told to not wear high heels to a welding job? Contrary to popular lore, women (at least those in the “working” classes) had been working all along, even in factories. The tone of these instructions seems so patronizing, but maybe I’m applying today’s standards and today’s attitudes in a way that is unfair.
Today’s woman welder has access to much more in terms of safety gear (thanks to technology for one) and she can also look fashionable wearing safety gear, and most important, have gear that fits, thanks to companies like AngelFire™ and their line of welding safety gear for women.
This chocolate brown welding jacket designed for women is made of brushed cotton and has adjustable cuffs and waist straps to make it fit perfectly.
I have child-sized hands… so those big man-hand gloves you find at most welding supply shops don’t even come close to fitting my hand. But the AngelFire welding gloves do…. plus they match the chocolate brown jacket.
And the latest thing offered by manufacturers? This hot pink auto darkening welding helmet. This is a top of the line helmet from our friends at Miller.
If your eyes aren’t what they used to be… at Arc-Zone you can add a removable magnifier lens when you order.
So you can dress like Rosie for Halloween– The New Rosie: a competent woman welder.
But if you want to go retro, here are some resources:
Women’s 1940s Hairstyles: An Overview (great article about the history of the styles and where else will you learn what a “snood” is?)
1940s Vintage Hairstyle Videos (several how-to videos for styling your hair int an Up-do or a Victory Rolls)
1940s : Fashion on the Home Front: lots of good tips on types of clothing from trouser selection to overalls and sturdy, low-heeled shoes.