This film is part of Free

In Which We Live Being the Story of a Suit Told by Itself

Wonderfully eccentric 'make do and mend' message from public information genius Richard Massingham.

Documentary 1944 13 mins


This wartime appeal to 'make do and mend' is an eccentric delight. It's largely narrated by a nostalgic pinstripe suit, which reflects on key moments in its 14-year life with its wearer, John. From purchase to job interview to wedding to fatherhood, the suit charts the ups and downs with the not-so-careful John - and the tender repairs of his loyal wife, Mary. The suit's noble sacrifice at the end, cut up for a skirt and trousers for Mary and John's two kids, is oddly affecting.

The offbeat approach is typical of director Richard Massingham, peerless genius of the public information film. Massingham frequently starred in his own films, and his expressive, timeworn face would have been familiar to 1940s filmgoers. Here, though, he limits himself to a single, Hitchcock-style, blink-and-you'll-miss-it cameo (he's a patron in the pub scene, sat grinning in round spectacles under a stuffed pike). This government film is a public record, preserved and presented by the BFI National Archive on behalf of The National Archives, home to more than 1,000 years of British history.