Wednesday, July 10, 2013

WW2 WAVES Uniform

Although this wasn't part of my original plans for the museum make-over, I found myself lying in bed at 2 am when this brilliant idea popped into my sphere of thought. It does the double-duty of both updating the display and keeping a mix of mannequins and dress forms in the display.

This WW2 WAVES uniform was displayed on a crumbling, faded, hobbled over mannequin...her hair had even curiously faded to pink (I'm assuming it was once brown?)!! The whole thing was also very dusty, and the acceptable black shoes were so crusted with dust I wasn't sure if there was hope for them.

She kind of reminds me of a bird, with the pink hair and her neck bent down like that.
According to Wikipedia, WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) was established July 30, 1942 as a WW2 division of the U.S. Navy. The official name for the group was the U.S. Naval Reserve (Women's Reserve). Initially, the WAVES were restricted to service within the continental U.S., but eventually they also served in several U.S. territories, such as Hawaii.
"The word "emergency" implied that the acceptance of women was due to the unusual circumstances of World War II, and at the end of the war the women would not be allowed to continue in Navy careers, but it or its successors continued for decades afterwards."
"From the very beginning, the WAVES was an official part of the Navy, and its members held the same rank and ratings as male personnel. They also received the same pay and were subject to military discipline."
All I can say is WOW! Compared to the WAAC (Women's Auxiliary Army Corps), which only served alongside the army, the idea of women in the 40's constructing planes back home and roughing it out in the Navy is incredible! And of course, they looked damn cute.

The whole ensemble is made of blue and white seersucker. I believe this was the summer version of the uniform.
"MADE AND SOLD UNDER AUTHORITY OF U.S. NAVY"
The necktie is fastened under the collar by buttons on either side.
Side closure with metal zipper. Note the waistband, with its button closure.
Evidence of machine gathering!
Center front closure.
Interior of jacket. Note how the upper facing has not been finished with bias tape.


Front of cap.
Inside of cap.
Back of cap.
I cleaned the entire ensemble as carefully as I could, by covering a vacuum nozzle with a cloth and securing it with a rubber band. There was a lot more dirt/dust than I imagined!

This is only about 5 minutes after vacuuming...it got MUCH worse, especially after I wrangled all that dirt off the shoes.
I decided to display this outfit on the mannequin that originally sported the 1920's beaded dress. I swapped the wig for one flat enough to properly display the hat on (though I still ended up softly stuffing the hat with some archival tissue paper). The wig was taken from the mannequin displaying a 1910's white lawn graduation dress. Overall, I think the effect is much fresher. I was able to clean all that grime off the shoes, and the whole getup is pleasing to the eye. All that's left to do is to make a new descriptive placard for this uniform!

The new display (:

1 comment:

  1. Well that mannequin is a lot less scary! (although still a little bit, then again dolls do freak me out, I am writing a pretty creepy story about that)

    All the details are fascinating, you can't usually see all those things on the mannequin so it's great that they are shared on this blog!

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