Dress restrictions had been accumulating gradually since the beginning of the war, they were mostly due to lack of materials such as straw for hats and silk for stockings and the disappearance of pre-war stocks from the shelves of shops. The austerity rules were much more drastic.
Some of the rules were as follows:
No dress may have more than 2 pockets or 5 buttons.
There must be no more than 6 seams in a skirt.
A skirt must have no more than 2 inverted/box pleats or 4 knife pleats.
No ornamental stitching.
Ruching, tucks and gauging may be used for fullness only.
There must be no embroidery, applique, braid, quilting, beading, sequins, drawn threadwork or lace trimming.
Tiered skirts, epaulettes, capes, turn back cuffs, imitation pockets, zip fasteners and buttons for ornament were banned.
Hems may only be 2 inches deep.
Dresses may not be made of lace or net.
Coats may not be trimmed with fur or velvet.
Blouses and lingerie may not be embroidered or lace trimmed.
Apart from saving materials, the idea of the rules was to limit the time it took to make a garment by eliminating time-consuming procedures. Much of the garment making workforce had been conscripted and many retailers had shut down. Long factory produced runs of a limited number of designs was the most economical way to make large numbers of items. Needless to say, there weren't enough made even then.
Home dressmakers were the only people who didn't have to stick strictly to the rules, though the dress patterns they bought were designed within the system. As they were making clothes in their own time they could add embroidery or the extra button if they wished.