Dress up and join the fun

The Southampton Maritime Festival has a war time theme so why not join in the fun and dress up in WW1 or WW2 costume?




Weekend Dad

Wide legged trousers - tweedy, corduroy, old dark suit ttousers.

Basic shirt - check, white.

Knitted tank top - close fitting, plain, hand knit (as shown) or fair isle. no fancy colours or logos.

Basic leather shoes - black/brown.


Man About Town

Double-breasted suit - pintestripe or dark colours. Turn ups.

White shirt.

Trilby (narrow brim) or fedora (wider brim) - blue, grey, brown, black.

Loud tie - bold stripes or big image.

Basic black Oxford/Brown Brouge shoe.


Dock/Farm Worker

Dungarees or boiler suit - navy, khaki, or tan.

Plain shirt underneath.

Flat cap.

Stout shoes, work boots or wellies.



Army, Royal Navy, Merchant Navy, Air Force, each with many different ranks to choose from.

There were also police officers & ARP Wardens amongst many other uniformed men working on the home front.

You might want to dress as an American or other foreign soldier, many of whom passed through Southampton during the war.

Hair: Men wore their hair in the classic short back & sides style. if you don't want to go for a drastic cut then just slick your hair back for the day with gel or styling wax.


Mix and match any of these ideas!

Summer Days

Cotton, small print dress, e.g. floral or spotted -button through. Belted. Loose - not fitted.

Low heeled shoes:  t-bar or peep toe, lace up low heel, ballet flats will do, wellies.

Snood - thick hair net pinned at the hair line, holding hair up.


Afternoon in town

A-line skirt

Button up cardigan - hand knit if possible, but plain or traditional fair isle pattern.

Simple blouse - buttoned to the next. Round or pointed collar.

Small hat or flower in the hair.

Simple jewelery: small watch, bangle, pearls for example.


Woman at work

Dungarees or boiler suit - navy, khaki or tan.

Plain men's shirt.

Turban head scarf.

Stout shoes, boots or wellies.


Lady of the manor

Straight or pleat skirt - tweed, check, plain.

Twin set - cardi with matching sweater.

Jacket with nipped waist.



Low heel shoes

Hair: During the festival , if in doubt, just put your hair up into a bun or simply twist and clip. young girls can have plaits or bunches. 

If you feel more adventurous, there are lots of videos on Youtube showing you how to make wartime style like Victory Rolls. Why not have a go? Wartime women did it - so can you!

Hair accessories were very popular: tie a scarf around your hair - experiment and find a style that suits you. The classic wartime scarf turban is a great look. Google "How to tie a scarf turban" for a tutorial.

You could also scoop your hair up into a thick hairnet or snood (see picture). These are easy to crochet if you are craft or can be brought online.

Makeup: Beauty products were hard to come by during rationing, and though we see images of glamorous movie stars of the time, ordinairy women were make up free; a dab of powder and red lipstick at the most.

Red nail varnish was popular. No other colours were available, so if you want painted nails for festival, red it is!


Seemed stockings - available in department stores these days - you may prefer to cheat and go for tights for comfort. Links to online stockists can be found below. Wartime stockings were brown with a brown seam. Black stockings were for racy women!

Fake stockings - It is also true that women would paint their legs with the watime equivelent of fake tan (make up or gravy!) and paint a seam down the back of their leg if they could not get ahold of stockings. If it's a warm day, it might be a fun thing to do (though maybe not with gravy!)

Simple jewelery - a short string of coloured glass beads or pearls. A brooch on your jacket. Simple clip earrings - not dangly in the day time.

Handbag - Make it simple and boxy in shape - black or brown. Bags might be a snap top granny bag, or something with a practical shoulder strap. Satchel/bucket styles were popular. Early in the war everyone carried their gas mask in a card board boc with a string strap - not essential for the festival, but a good detail.

Hats and Gloves - hats were small and held on with a hat pin. Gloves were wrist length. War hastened loosening of social conventions and it became common for women not to wear hats or gloves.

Hire or Buy
● Beatnik Emporium 202 Above Bar St Southampton SO14 7DW
023 8063 3428 www.beatnikemporium.co.uk
Hire only
● The Fancy Dress Shop 25 Portswood Rd Southampton, Hampshire SO17 2ES
023 8056 0990 http://www.expressyourselfcostumehire.co.uk
● Hampshire Wardrobe appointment only Chilcomb Lane, Winchester SO23 8RD
01962 826725 www3.hants.gov.uk/wardrobe.htm
If you fancy going in authentic World War II Uniform check out
● Sabre Sales 8587
Castle Road, Southsea, PO5 3AY
023 9283 3394 www.sabresales.co.uk