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Make Do & Mend


The above is an English propaganda poster from World War II encouraging women to find creative ways to deal with the clothing rations set in place during the war. The “Make-Do and Mend” campaign offered pamphlets on ways that women could be both “frugal and stylish.” The saying very succinctly defines both of my grandmothers’ overall attitudes to life. Each experienced the war in her own way – one with a husband over in the Pacific and one running a business here at home – and I’ve always deeply admire them as strong women.

I of course did not know them during this time, but it is clear that the experience of both the Great Depression and World War II impacted them greatly. My grandmothers, and many women of that generation, handled things in a way that eliminated the drama and got to the point. There wasn’t time to sit and analyze things to death. They had to “make-do and mend.” There was a quiet strength about them that was never mentioned or praised – it just was a necessary and required trait.

The campaign itself is quite sexist, but it was the reality of the time. The saying itself, though, is one that can transcend the time period and manifest itself into our psyche again. Not as a way to ration clothing, but as a way to overcome difficulties that might suddenly arise in our business or everyday life. If something happens that we might not be expecting, we can let it unravel us or we can take the mindset of acknowledging it, dealing with it and turing it into something more positive – make do and mend.

It is recognizing that you have to work from the point in which you are standing – make do –  not where you wish you were or where you could be, and it also reminds you that you have all of the skills and materials you need to move forward – it might just take a little mending for you to see that. That’s what I witnessed my grandmothers do time and time again. They didn’t seem to fuss or fall apart, and they had a way of turning something not so great into something better.

What do you think – would “make-do and mend” be a helpful mantra to bring into your life?

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