Boy-Bafflers and Bell-Bottoms: Wrens and their Uniforms in Wartime and Beyond

Lucy Dale's picture
October 25, 2022
United Kingdom
Subject Fields: 
British History / Studies, Maritime History / Studies, Modern European History / Studies, Social History / Studies, Women's & Gender History / Studies

Tuesday 25 October | 5.15pm - 6.30pm

Thousands served in the Women’s Royal Naval Service across Britain during the Second World War. All of these ‘Wrens’ were issued with special uniforms, some of which were originally designed for men’s bodies rather than those of women.

Join us for a free online talk discussing these important garments, what Wrens thought about them and the legacy they left. Hear about everything from the standard-issue ensemble naval skirt suits to ‘boy bafflers’, the much-hated knee bloomers (also known as ‘passion killers’).

What does uniform tell us about women’s lives during the Second World War? What tricks did Wrens, tailors and hatters use on garments to maintain smartness and improve functionality? How did wartime uniform influence women’s clothing in peacetime? Why should historians of Wrens pay closer attention to material culture?

Dr Jo Horton will explore the lives and ambitions of these phenomenal women, who served their country under difficult circumstances and within restrictive social norms. Her talk will draw on off-display objects held at RMG’s Prince Philip Maritime Collections Centre, as well as oral histories from the last remaining Wrens who served during the war.

Event Details

This event is free and open to everyone, and will take place via Zoom. There is no need to book; please click on the link below shortly before 5.15pm on the day.

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This event is part of our Maritime Heritage and Culture Seminar series. For more information on the series, please visit: Maritime History and Culture Seminars | Royal Museums Greenwich (

Contact Info: 

Lucy Dale

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