“Your ‘Separates'”

The Navy booklet women received upon leaving the service offers suggestions for dressing in skirts and tops, suggesting soft blouses or turtlenecks for the top half of the body, and the following for the bottom:

The skirt – a heavy woolen, gathered, dirndl-fashion, into a belt. May be tweed, plain, check, stripe.

The skirt is the smooth wool jersey with high turtle neck.

An important wide belt gives a put-together look to these newest of the “separates.”

From the booklet “Back to Civvies,”  held by the The Betty H. Carter Women Veterans Historical Project at the University of North Carolina Greensboro.

“What About Your Uniform?”

Remove the insignia and sex on plain blue buttons.

Don’t cut it, decorate it, remodel it, or otherwise change it. It was designed by a fine designer. If you are tired of it, hang it up in the closet after you have changed the buttons. Don’t look at it again until next season. Then treat it as your smart tailored suit, and do any of these things with it:

  • Wear a gay hat and a bright checked or striped scarf.
  • Wear a bright green or lemon yellow blouse, or a shocking pink or frilly white dickey. Add the most feminine of hats.
  • With your white uniform, wear your Navy blue shirt and a blue hat. Or a black blouse and black accessories. Or wear deep, bright colors with it.
  • Wear luggage tan accessories with either uniform, and remember that they are both perfect neutrals, and foils for any other color harmonies that you want to use.

From the booklet “Back to Civvies,”  held by the The Betty H. Carter Women Veterans Historical Project at the University of North Carolina Greensboro.

“Good Grooming and Hair-Dos”

The Navy offered women a selection of fashionable hat choices for the post-war world, but also this reminder:

The most important personal lesson your Navy training can leave with you is the value of perfect grooming at all times. Brushed hair, neat hands, perfectly ordered clothing make any woman look right in her simplest costume. An no-one can be smart who is unpressed, untidy, not well put together.

From the booklet “Back to Civvies,”  held by the The Betty H. Carter Women Veterans Historical Project at the University of North Carolina Greensboro.

“Your Coat”

In general, your coat will have wide, rounded shoulders, deeper armholes, and if it is belted, it will be trimly pulled in. There are three chief types of coats, any of which may be fur-trimmed or plain. . .

  • The boxy reefer, either short or long, but a far softer coat than its pre-war version you may have lived in.
  • The short or long belted coat with a slightly fuller skirt.
  • The short coat with a wide-swinging back.

From the booklet “Back to Civvies,”  held by the The Betty H. Carter Women Veterans Historical Project at the University of North Carolina Greensboro.

“The New Silhouette Lines”

Rounded shoulders, fuller skirts, nipped-in waistlines and high-climbing throat-lines . . . these are the new silhouettes to look for.

Consider these highlights when shopping, but don’t be a slave to the mode if it’s wrong for you.

From the booklet “Back to Civvies,”  held by the The Betty H. Carter Women Veterans Historical Project at the University of North Carolina Greensboro.

“Buying Fasion”

Always remember that simplicity is the keynote of dressing smartly. Avoid choosing fashions that were “in” when you went into the Navy; chances are they’re “out” now. Here’s where your study of fashion magazines comes in.

Try to get clothes that are coming into fashion. You will be happier with them longer.

Avoid the fashion you meet on every third woman. When you see the same dress in every shop window, you may be sure it has reached its peak of popularity, and is not going to last as long, fashion-wise, as something which is in far less quantity.

Avoid the pitfall of exaggerated fashions; the too-wide shoulder, the too-nipped-in waist. The too-deep armhole. When in doubt, always take the middle of the road.

From the booklet “Back to Civvies,”  held by the The Betty H. Carter Women Veterans Historical Project at the University of North Carolina Greensboro.

Pretty, Smart or Crisp?

The Navy gave women three options for their personal “look” after getting out of the military: pretty, smart or crisp:

If the answer is:

  • “Pretty”–then choose a feminine hat, soft dresses,
  • “Smart”–the a few very smooth clothes for you,
  • “Crisp”–then stick to tailored clothes.

From the booklet “Back to Civvies,”  held by the The Betty H. Carter Women Veterans Historical Project at the University of North Carolina Greensboro.

Arriving Home

The Navy also offered advice to help women keep track of their military records after returning to civilian life:

Have the Recorder of County Clerk record your discharge certificate. You can then obtain a certified copy any time in the future if the original is lost or destroyed.

This image comes from the Women’s Reserve Information Separation Pamphlet. It is held by the The Betty H. Carter Women Veterans Historical Project at the University of North Carolina Greensboro.

Personal Interview

Just as potential WAVES received a personal interview when they began in the service, the soon-to-be civilians would have an interview about options after they left the service.

The sage advice from the Navy?

Make sure you are fully informed.

This image comes from the Women’s Reserve Information Separation Pamphlet. It is held by the The Betty H. Carter Women Veterans Historical Project at the University of North Carolina Greensboro.