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A Question of Taste (clip)

How to dress well on a budget during the austere post-war years

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This post-war educational film shows us how girls are taught at school “all the crafts which make up the running of a home” but have discovered for themselves how to dress well on a budget. This clip includes some advice from Hardy Amies one of the fashion gurus of the time.

Questions & Activities


  • How old do you think these young women are?
  • Attitudes to what young women wear has changed, but does anything of what he said hold true?
  • At what age do you think it would be acceptable for this young women would be advised to wear the hat?
  • Why did they ask a man to present the show?
  • Who would be Hardy Amies' contemporary TV counterpart?
  • Would filmmakers use sketches in a modern fashion commentary programme?


This film was made before the invention of the concept of 'the teenager'. Discuss what these young women had to live without.

The tone of Hardy's delivery makes the film appear deeply patronising to women. Use this film to introduce a discussion of whether things have things really changed. There is a lot of evidence to suggest that men still dominate the fashion industry and are still trying to achieve the ideal of the perfect woman. Investigate how the fashion industry is controlled and how fashion publications manipulate the female image. How does this influence young women emotionally, psychologically and physically?

Ask the boys to design clothes for the girls and girls to design clothes for the boys. Ask them to explain their ideas and choices.

Investigate the decline of the hat. Where and when do women still wear hats? What religious and moral significance do hats and headgear have?

Compare this film to public information films made during the war like Wood Goes to War. Discuss how and why gender politics have changed so much during the intervening years. What does this say about relations between men and women in society?

Clip Details

Record Id 007-000-000-343-C
Resource Rights Holder Courtesy of University of Brighton, Design Archives
Project Ref 3913
Date 1945
Genre Documentary, Public Information, Educational
School Subject Physical Education, Art and Design, Social History, Religious and Moral Education, Social Studies, Gender Studies, Media Studies
Subject Matter PSD, Education
Who Council of Industrial Design, Scottish Committee (sponsor), The Pathe Documentary Unit (production company)
Where Glasgow, London
Event Working life, Fashion
Attributes Black and White, Sound
Clip Length 3:19
Film Length 09:19