Fashion on the Ration: 1940s Street Style

IWM North
27 May 2016 – 1 May 2017

From 'onesies' to wear in the air raid shelter to jewellery created from aeroplane parts, Fashion on the Ration looks at how fashion survived and even flourished under the strict rules of rationing in 1940s Britain, often in new and unexpected ways.

This exhibition explores how men and women found new ways to dress as clothes rationing took hold. Displays of original clothes from the era, including military uniforms and functional fashion, reveal what life was really like on the home front in wartime Britain.

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“A new exhibition at the Imperial War Museum celebrates the ingenuity, determination, and just plain battiness of the attempts by the stylish to get around rationing and shortages of everything from knicker elastic to buttons”.

Maev Kennedy, The Guardian
London in the spring of 1941: everyday life in London, England © IWM (D 2937)

“Quite simply, it’s unmissable”.

Stylist Magazine

Talks and Events

Fashion on the Ration Weekender

4-5 June 2016

Marking the 75th anniversary of clothes rationing in Britain, see IWM North’s special exhibition Fashion on the Ration: 1940s Street Style, accompanied by a weekend of exciting and exclusive talks, events, tours and activities.


A Closer Look Tour: Fashion on the Ration

Daily, Saturday 28 May-Thursday 30 June (excluding 14-15 June)

Available to Fashion on the Ration ticket holders, join our closer look tour to discover revealing stories of how fashion and style were maintained and even flourished during the Second World War.



Members enjoy free admission to our exhibitions.

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For school bookings and enquiries please complete our online booking request form.  For group bookings call +44 (0)1223 499 353 and ask for the Customer Services Team.

Admission Price
Adult £6
Child £3
Concession £4.50
Members Free