1920s in fashion by wuzhenguang


									1920s in fashion
The 1920s is the decade in which fashion entered the
modern era. It was the decade in which women first
liberated themselves from constricting fashions and began
to wear more comfortable clothes (such as short skirts or
trousers). Men likewise abandoned overly formal clothes
and began to wear sport clothes for the first time. The suits
men wear today are still based, for the most part, on those
men wore in the late 1920s.

The 1920s are characterized by two distinct periods of
fashion. In the early 1920s change progressed slowly, as
many were reluctant to adopt new styles. From 1925, the public passionately embraced the styles
associated with the Roaring Twenties. These styles continue to characterize fashion until early in 1932.

After World War I, America entered a prosperous era and, as a result of its role in the war, came out
onto the world stage. Social customs and morals were relaxed in the optimism brought on by the end of
                               the war and the booming of the stock market. Women were entering the
                               workforce in record numbers. The nationwide prohibition on alcohol
                               was ignored by many. There was a revolution in almost every sphere of
                               human activity, and fashion was no exception.

                               Clothing changed with women's changing roles in modern society,
                               particularly with the idea of new fashion. Although society matrons of a
                               certain age continued to wear conservative dresses, forward-looking and
                               younger women now made sportswear into the greatest change in post-
                               war fashion. The tubular dresses of the 'teens had evolved into a similar
                               silhouette that now sported shorter skirts with pleats, gathers, or slits to
                               allow motion. Undergarments began to transform after World War I to
                               conform to the ideals of a flatter chest and more boyish figure. The
                               corset was diminishing and the bandeau, flattening style was prevalent
                               in the early 1920s. During the mid-twenties all-in-one lingerie became
                               popular, leaving behind the corset and moving into the curvier brassiere
                               era of the 1930s.

                              The women's rights movement had a strong effect on women's sexual
                              fashions. Most importantly, the confining corset was discarded, as
                              undergarments changed to suit the new fashions in this decade. Instead
of drawers and knickers, women now wore panties, which were more comfortable. The chemise or
camisole was employed in place of the corset. During the early part of the decade, chemises paired
with bloomers kept a woman covered beneath her outer garments. For the first time in centuries,
women's legs were seen with hemlines rising to the knee and dresses becoming more fitted. A more
masculine look became popular, including flattened breasts and hips, short hairstyles such as the bob
cut, Eton Crop and the Marcel Wave. One of the first women to wear trousers, cut her hair and reject
the corset was Coco Chanel. Probably the most influential woman in fashion of the 20th century, Coco
Chanel did much to further the emancipation and freedom of women's fashion.
The straight-line chemise topped by the close-fitting cloche hat became the uniform of the day.
Women "bobbed," or cut, their hair short to fit under the popular hats, a radical move in the beginning,
but standard by the end of the decade. Low-waisted dresses with fullness at the hemline allowed
women to kick up their heels literally in new dances like the Charleston.

Jean Patou, a new designer on the French scene, began making two-piece sweater and skirt outfits in
luxurious wool jersey and had an instant hit for his morning dresses and sports suits. American women
embraced the clothes of the designer as perfect for their increasingly active lifestyles.

By the end of the Twenties, Elsa Schiaparelli stepped onto the stage to represent a younger generation.
She combined the idea of classic design from the Greeks and Romans (think "tunic") with the modern
imperative for freedom of movement. Schiaparelli wrote that the ancient Greeks "gave to their
goddesses ... the serenity of perfection and the fabulous appearance of freedom." Her own
interpretation produced gowns of elegant simplicity. Departing from the chemise, her clothes returned
to an awareness of the body beneath the gown.

In the world of art, fashion was being influenced heavily on art movements such as surrealism. After
World War I, popular art saw a slow transition from the lush, curvilinear abstractions of art nouveau
decoration to the more mechanized, smooth, and geometric forms of art deco. Elsa Schiaparelli is one
key Italian designer of this decade who was heavily influenced by the "beyond the real" art and
incorporated it into her designs.

During the Twenties, Tirocchi clients asked for designs by known designers rather than work with
Madame Tirocchi directly to create gowns for them. Most of these dresses were copies produced by
New York fashion houses like Harry Angelo and Maginnis & Thomas, although some came from the
New York City department stores B. Altman and Lord and Taylor.

Some Tirocchi clients purchased designs by old favorites from the 'Teens, like Agnes, Callot Soeurs,
Jeanne Lanvin, Poiret, and others. However, they bought a lot from the new designers Chanel and
Patou (who was the special favorite of the young set).

The technological development of new fabrics and new closures in clothing were affecting fashions of
the 20s. Natural fabrics such as cotton and wool were the abundant fabrics of the decade. Silk was
highly desired for its luxurious qualities, but the limited supply made it expensive. In the late 19th
century, "artificial silk" was first made from a solution of cellulose in France. After being patented in
the United States, the first American plant began production of this new fabric in 1910; this fiber
became known as rayon. Rayon stockings became popular in the decade as a substitute for silk
stockings. Rayon was also used in some undergarments. Many garments before the 1920s were
fastened with buttons and lacing, however, during this decade, the development of varieties of metal
hooks and eyes meant that there were easier means of fastening clothing shut. Hooks and eyes, buttons,
zippers or snaps were all utilized to fasten clothing.

In menswear there were two distinct periods in the 1920s. Throughout the decade, men wore short suit
jackets, the old long jackets (on morning suits and tail coats) being used merely for formal occasions.
In the early twenties, men's fashion was characterized by extremely high waisted jackets, often worn
with belts. Lapels on suit jackets were not very wide as they tended to be buttoned up high. (This style
of jacket seems to have been greatly influenced by the uniforms worn by the military during the First
World War.) Trousers were relatively narrow and straight (never tapered) and they were worn rather
short so that a man's socks often showed. Trousers also began to be worn cuffed at the bottom at this

By 1925, wider trousers commonly known as "Oxford Bags" came into fashion, while suit jackets
returned to a normal waist and lapels became wider and were often worn peaked. Loose fitting sleeves
(without a taper) also began to be worn during this period. During the late 1920s, double breasted
vests, often worn with a single breasted jacket, also became quite fashionable. During the 1920s, men
had a variety of sport clothes available to them, including sweaters and short trousers, commonly
known as knickers. For formal occasions in the daytime, a morning suit was usually worn. For evening
wear men preferred the short tuxedo to the tail coat, which was now seen as rather old-fashioned and

Men's hats
Men's hats were usually worn depending on their class, with upper class citizens usually wearing top
hats or a homburg hat. Middle class men wore either a fedora or a trilby hat. During the summer
months a straw boater was popular for upper class and middle class men. Working-class men wore a
standard Newsboy cap or no hat at all.

1930–1945 in fashion
The most characteristic North American fashion trend from the 1930s to the end of World War II was
attention at the shoulder, with butterfly sleeves and banjo sleeves, and exaggerated shoulder pads for
both men and women by the 1940s. The period also saw the first widespread use of man-made fibers,
especially rayon for dresses and viscose for linings and lingerie, and synthetic nylon stockings. The
zipper became widely used. These essentially U.S. developments were echoed, in varying degrees, in
Britain and Europe. Suntans (called at the time "sunburns") became fashionable in the early 1930s,
along with travel to the resorts along the Mediterranean, in the Bahamas, and on the east coast of
Florida where one could acquire a tan, leading to new categories of clothes: white dinner jackets for
men and beach pajamas, halter tops, and bare midriffs for women.[1][2]

Fashion trendsetters in the period included the Prince of Wales (Edward VIII from January 1936 until
his abdication that December) and his companion Wallis Simpson (the Duke and Duchess of Windsor
from their marriage in June 1937) and such Hollywood movie stars as Fred Astaire, Carole Lombard
and Joan Crawford.


The lighthearted, forward-looking attitude and fashions of the late 1920s lingered through most of
1930, but by the end of that year the effects of the Great Depression began to affect the public, and a
more conservative approach to fashion displaced that of the 1920s. For women, skirts became longer
and the waist-line was returned up to its normal position in an attempt to bring back the traditional
"womanly" look. Other aspects of fashion from the 1920s took longer to phase out. Cloche hats
remained popular until about 1933 while short hair remained popular for many women until late in the

Fashion and the movies
Throughout the 1930s and early '40s, a second influence vied with the Paris couturiers as a wellspring
for new fashion ideas: the American cinema.[3] Paris designers such as Schiaparelli and Lucien Lelong
acknowledged the impact of film costumes on their work. LeLong said "We, the couturiers, can no
longer live without the cinema any more than the cinema can live without us. We corroborate each
others' instinct.[4]

The 1890s leg-o-mutton sleeves designed by Walter Plunkett for Irene Dunne in 1931's Cimarron
helped to launch the broad-shouldered look,[5] and Adrian's little velvet hat worn tipped over one eye
by Greta Garbo in Romance (1930) became the "Empress Eugenie hat ... Universally copied in a wide
price range, it influenced how women wore their hats for the rest of the decade."[5] Movie costumes
were covered not only in film fan magazines, but in influential fashion magazines such as Women's
Wear Daily, Harper's Bazaar, and Vogue.

Adrian's puff-sleeved gown for Joan Crawford Letty Lynton was copied by Macy's in 1932 and sold
over 500,000 copies nationwide.[6] The most influential film of all was 1939's Gone with the Wind.
Plunkett's "barbecue dress" for Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O'Hara was the most widely copied dress after
the Duchess of Windsor's wedding costume, and Vogue credited the "Scarlett O'Hara" look with
bringing full skirts worn over crinolines back into wedding fashion after a decade of sleek, figure-
hugging styles.[5]

Lana Turner's 1937 film They Won't Forget made her the first Sweater girl, an informal look for young
women relying on large breasts pushed up and out by brassieres, which continued to be influential into
the 1950s, and was arguably the first major style of youth fashion.

Retail clothing and accessories inspired by the period costumes of Adrian, Plunkett, Travis Banton,
Howard Greer, and others influenced what women wore until war-time restrictions on fabric stopped
the flow of lavish costumes from Hollywood.[5]

Hard chic and feminine flutters

Jean Patou, who had first raised hemlines to 18" off the floor with his "flapper" dresses of 1924, had
begun lowering them again in 1927, using Vionnet's handkerchief hemline to disguise the change. By
1930, longer skirts and natural waists were shown everywhere.[7]

But it is Schiaparelli who is credited with "changing the outline of fashion from soft to hard, from
vague to definite."[7] She introduced the zipper, synthetic fabrics, simple suits with bold color accents,
tailored evening dresses with matching jackets, wide shoulders, and the color shocking pink to the
fashion world. By 1933, the trend toward wide shoulders and narrow waists had eclipsed the emphasis
on the hips of the later 1920s.[7] Wide shoulders would remain a staple of fashion until after the war.

In contrast with the hard chic worn by the "international set".[7] designers such as Britain's Norman
Hartnell made soft, pretty dresses with fluttering or puffed sleeves and flowing calf-length skirts suited
to a feminine figure. His "white mourning"[8] wardrobe for the new Queen Elizabeth's 1938 state visit
to Paris started a brief rage for all-white clothing[9]

Feminine curves were highlighted in the 1930s through the use of the bias-cut in dresses. Madeline
Vionnet was the innovator of the bias-cut and used this method to create sculptural dresses that molded
and shaped over the body's contours as it draped the female form.[10]

Through the mid-1930s, the natural waistline was often accompanied by emphasis on an empire line.
Short bolero jackets, capelets, and dresses cut with fitted midriffs or seams below the bust increased
the focus on breadth at the shoulder. By the late '30s, emphasis was moving to the back, with halter
necklines and high-necked but backless evening gowns with sleeves.[2][7] Evening dresses with
matching jackets were worn to the theatre, nightclubs, and elegant restaurants.

Skirts remained at mid-calf length for day, but the end of the 1930s Paris designers were showing
fuller skirts reaching just below the knee; this practical length (without the wasteful fullness) would
remain in style for day dresses through the war years.

Other notable fashion trends in this period include the introduction of the ensemble (matching dresses
or skirts and coats) and the handkerchief skirt, which had many panels, insets, pleats or gathers. The
clutch coat was fashionable in this period as well; it had to be held shut as there was no fastening. By
1945, adolescents began wearing loose, poncho-like sweaters called sloppy joes. Full, gathered skirts,
known as the dirndl skirt, became popular around 1945.[11]


Gloves were "enormously important" in this period.[9] Evening gowns were accompanied by elbow
length gloves, and day costumes were worn with short or opera-length gloves of fabric or leather.

Manufacturers and retailers introduced coordinating ensembles of hat, gloves and shoes, or gloves and
scarf, or hat and bag, often in striking colours.[9] For spring 1936, Chicago's Marshall Field's
department store offered a black hat by Lilly Daché trimmed with an antelope leather bow in "Pernod
green, apple blossom pink, mimosa yellow or carnation blush" and suggested a handbag to match the

Hairstyles and headgear

Short hair remained fashionable in the early 1930s, but gradually hair was worn longer in soft or hard
curls. Most hairstyles were smooth at the crown to accommodate a hat, with curls framing the face and
at the ends. The first "Perm" hairstyles also became popular. By the early 1940s, shoulder length curls
or page-boy bobs were most popular.[11] Hair was also worn up with the curled ends piled on top of the
head. Through the mid '40s, hair was worn high over the forehead in a puff or in rolls, in a pompadour

Knotted hair cauls or hairnets, called snoods, of velvet or chenille yarn, were one of the historic
revivals seen through out the period.[2][9]

Hats were worn for most occasions, almost always tipped to one side and decorated with bits of net
veiling, feathers, ribbons, or brooches.


For men, the most noticeable effect of the general sobering associated with the Great Depression was
that the range of colors became more subdued. The bright colors popular in the 1920s fell out of

By the early 1930s, the "drape cut" or "London Drape" suit championed by Frederick Scholte, tailor to
the Prince of Wales, was taking the world of men's fashion by storm. The new suit was softer and more
flexible in construction than the suits of the previous generation; extra fabric in the shoulder and
armscye, light padding, a slightly nipped waist, and fuller sleeves tapered at the wrist resulted in a cut
with flattering folds or drapes front and back that enhanced a man's figure. The straight leg wide-
trousers (the standard size was 23 inches at the cuff) that men had worn in the 1920s also became
tapered at the bottom for the first time around 1935. The new suit was adopted enthusiastically by
Hollywood stars including Fred Astaire, Cary Grant, and Gary Cooper, who became the new fashion
trendsetters after the Prince's abdication and exile. By the early 1940s, Hollywood tailors had
exaggerated the drape to the point of caricature, outfitting film noir mobsters and private eyes in suits
with heavily padded chests, enormous shoulders, and wide flowing trousers. Musicians and other
fashion experimenters adopted the most extreme form of the drape, the zoot suit, with very high waists,
pegged trousers, and long coats.[16][17]

Formal wear

In the early 1930s, new forms of summer evening clothes were introduced as appropriate for the
popular seaside resorts. The waist-length white mess jacket, worn with a cummerbund rather than a
waistcoat, was modeled after formal clothing of British officers in tropical climates. This was followed
by a white dinner jacket, single or double-breasted. Both white coats were worn black bow ties and
black trousers trimmed with braid down the side seams.[1]


By 1933, knickerbockers and plus-fours, which had been commonly worn as sports-clothes, became
obsolete, in favor of casual trousers.


The usual hat of this period was the fedora, often worn tipped down over one eye at a rakish angle.
Neckties were wide, and bold geometric designs were popular, including stripes, and quadrilateral

Photo Examples


Early 1920s


1920s Dresses
1930s Dresses

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