Something that becomes evident is that when faced with strife, people can be surprisingly resilient. We’ve witnessed that this past year as we inch closer to the year mark of the coronavirus pandemic impacting the United States. There have only been a few pandemics that have affected the entire world, but it’s not the only time people have had to come together and alter their lives during a global crisis.

Brides and grooms this past year have learned that though love is not cancelled, their weddings may have been. It can be truly difficult to continue a joyous occasion when the world is still struggling and there are countless restrictions. No other generation can attest to that more than “The Greatest Generation.” Betrothed couples of the 1930s and ‘40s also experienced bumps in the road of their wedding planning as everyone was focused on the second world war. During this time, people had to get creative, change their plans or routines and learn to live in a “new normal” that included rationing and other consequences of war.

One trend during this time that caught our eye was parachute dresses. Some brides used their dress as a symbolic gesture to their soldier turned husband, and others at home and around the world didn’t have access to certain materials or money. Parachute dresses are exactly what it sounds like – a wedding gown made of a parachute. Surprisingly, to us, parachutes for the war were made of a particular silk and many included mosquito nettings. To us that sounds like a gorgeous silk fabric and tulle-like accents, don’t you think?

There are different stories of how and why parachutes were used. Many soldiers brought their parachutes home with them, many took parachutes from battle and sent them back to significant others and still others sought the fabric out because Japan was the major silk importer at the time and for obvious reasons, this type of silk was not available. But no matter how the material got back to them, gorgeous gowns were crafted from something truly lackluster in its original form.

As we approach a year of our new coronavirus normal, it’s easy to be bogged down with the negative and focus on not being able to have the wedding of your dreams. But we can always learn from those who have come before us and know that no matter what life throws at you, love will always win … and parachute material could make for a great garment.


Read a few stories about parachute dresses from The National WWII Museum here



Gift of Joyce & Adrien Reynolds, The National World War II Museum Inc., 2001