Wedding dress; 1943; 2000/73/1
Wedding dressAbout this object
This lovely little dress exemplifies the sacrifices of wartime. Rationing of fabric and clothing severely restricted the choices available to brides during the Second World War. Many also felt that ostentatious celebration was inappropriate in the circumstances and opted for simple ceremonies and matching costumes. The dress is made from a synthetic crêpe in a muted sage green mottled with orangey brown threads. It is knee-length with short sleeves and a natural waistline. There are seams in the bodice, with the bias cut skirt fitted over the hips then flaring out to the hem. The only elaboration is the embroidered floral pattern in fuchsia, pink, brown and gold around the yoke. Padding and darts give the shoulders the square set that was such a staple of fashion through the war years.
This was Jean Gawn’s dress when she married William Kent at the Romahapa Presbyterian church on 30 March 1943. Jean was the fourth of six children and grew up on a farm at Romahapa. She trained as a nurse and met her future husband when he was a patient at Kew hospital in Invercargill. Bill was in the army and Jean followed him to Christchurch when he was transferred to Burnham camp. She had the first two of their six children there before they moved back to Invercargill at the end of the war. Bill was a hospital porter and then a blood technician before his untimely death in 1959. Jean returned to nursing in 1967, ending her career back at Kew in 1979. She died in 2000 aged 84.
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