During the war, rationing led to the first major shortening of hemlines. Women wore more comfortable clothing in order to do the work in wartime factories. Though the mood was sombre, shoes became more colourful, and stockings became sheer and sexy. The clothing became slimmer, more natural, and the waist began to drop even before the war.

For men there was less change. There was a gradual removal of the formalities remaining from the Victorian and Edwardian periods. Clothing became more casual, and there was a great demand for sporting clothes.