War weaves itself deeply into the routine of the countries involved, significantly changing the design of everyday life. In America the patterns woven by WWII were visible in all aspects of life. Nothing was left untouched by the War, including what the American man wore around his neck.
Days after the Japanese attacked Pear Harbor, America strapped on its boots and shifted to a wartime economy. Manufacturers that typically made civilian goods started to produce items needed to fight the War. The government implemented strict rationing laws on what goods remained. Americans dealt with limited amounts of sugar, butter, meat, kerosene and oil for the duration of the War. Along with rationing the government set new guidelines for clothing production.
The government set regulations on everything from the width of cuffs to the amount of fabric in a hem to save material. The only garments exempt from the regulations were wedding gowns, maternity clothing and religious garments. Men’s neckties did not escape the regulations, and the accessory changed immensely from what was popular in the prewar era.
1950s Neon Bellywarmer Tie
Parachute manufacturing made silk and nylon rare commodities during the War. Rayon became the fiber du jour for men’s neckties and many WWII era ties are identifiable today with this knowledge.
Rationing and clothing regulations kept the same lengths and styles of clothing popular throughout the War. Men’s ties were a rare exception; most ties lengthened to 47 inches. Neckties of WWII acquired the nickname Belly Warmers, due to the extreme width and length that were now popular.
The ties from the WWII era started out as multicolored jacquard accessories in dark colors. Ties featuring bias stripes were among the most popular designs. Earth-toned ties in colors such as brown, cream, red, and rust were also a major trend.
Innovations in screen-printing made double-printed ties popular toward the end of the War. Brocade ties underwent silk screening to have a second pattern printed over them for a bolder and more graphic design.
During the War, British and European manufacturers, like their American allies, turned to producing wartime goods. Without competition across the pond Americans gained a foothold in the fashion world. American tie manufacturing came into it’s own with brands such as Botany Ties and Arrow.
The end of the War signaled an end of worrying to many Americans. People were ready to cut loose, and clothing followed suit. Fashions became colorful and exuberant, especially menswear, which hadn’t previously seen great variation in color. Ties continually became brighter and bolder often featuring printed novelty designs. In the years following the War, the worldwide craze was for all things American. The new loudly patterned tie was no exception.
The history of the necktie is as rich and colorful as the patterns that adorn them. Designers, actors and royalty in the 1920s and 1930s left a distinctive stamp on the tie that gives the modern man the opportunity