The 1930's brought a sleek, sexy look to fashion.
So clever Hollywood draped slinky silk satin over the Stars of the day, covering their bosom but removing their brassieres.
The majority of dresses were cut on the bias to give the dress a flowing look at the bottom. Fabrics such as silk, satin,
organza, net, chiffon, brocade, velvet and lace were used to great effect.
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
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. 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.
Although 1930s fashions started out much like the flamboyant fashions
of the 1920s, by the end of that year the effects of the Great Depression could be seen. More muted colors were popular in
the fashions of both men and women, with the hemlines of women's skirts becoming longer once again. Shoulders became an
important focus of this decade. Heavily padded jackets for both women and men became the fashion, as did padded dresses for
women. This fashion of the 1930s saw a turn back to the more conservative
nature of clothing. These included more muted colors as well as a drop in hemlines for women's dresses. More flowing styles
in both women's fashions as well as men's were popular during this time period. en's
formal wear included white suit jackets or a waist length mess jacket with a cummerbund and black pants for summer-time wear.
With an emphasis still on the shoulders and the natural waistline, short jackets and dresses with a fitted midriff drew the
eyes toward the shoulder. Toward the end of the decade, 1930s fashion included evening gowns for women that featured halter
or other high necklines, sleeves and plunging, bare backs. Matching jackets were often included as well. Suits that were more formal were still worn during business transactions. These differed from those that were looser
as seen in more casual situations. Bold neckties with geometric patterns did provide a bit of personality to the ensemble,
however. Women wore dresses with matching jackets. Hemlines began to fall to below the knee, particularly during the last
half of the decade. Men's suits featuring heavily padded shoulders as well as generously cut
jackets signaled a softer and more flexible fashion for the 1930s. Fuller sleeves and tapered pants made the suits flattering
for men, rather than stiff and rigid. Flowing trousers with long coats, often dubbed zoot suits, were popular as casual wear
for men. Musicians continued to be major influences on 1930s fashion. They made the exaggerated
shoulder pads and long flowing trousers of the day even more popular as they wore their zoot suits. Long coats with high waists
and pegged, wide legged trousers were a staple of their clothing. Movies played a heavy influence
on fashions of the 1930s. Movies such as "Gone With the Wind," influenced the popularity of leg o' mutton sleeves
and other puffed sleeves on dresses. Full skirts were brought back into fashion by Scarlet O'Hara's famous barbecue
dress. The Duchesses of Windsor helped to bring back the long flowing wedding dress after she wore this type for her 1937
wedding to Edward VIII, Prince of Wales. When Queen Elizabeth visited the New York World's Fair in 1939, she wore a short
sleeved dress with long gloves. A dramatic hat completed her look.
Jeans were strictly for workman in the first three decades of
the century. In 1908, Morris Cooper created a work-wear production company in his own name. By the 1910s, 600 people were
employed in the Morris Cooper factory in London, producing work-wear clothing from durable and versatile fabrics for various
trades. Popular at the time were the Bib-and- Brace overalls. With the arrival of the first world war, the company converted
its production to military uniforms. In 1931, the company was renamed “M Cooper Overalls Limited”, and in 1937
opened up a new factory in Stratford East London.
the 1930s and early '40s, a second influence vied with the Paris couturiers as a wellspring for new fashion ideas: the American cinema. 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 anymore than the cinema can live without us. We corroborate each others' instinct.
1890s leg-o-mutton sleeves designed by Walter Plunkett for Irene Dunne in 1931's Cimarron helped to launch the broad-shouldered
look,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."
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. 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.
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 trend setters 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
Roberto Capucci (born December 2, 1930) is an Italian fashion
designer, known for his extravagant and ingeniously constructed outfits. Known as "the Givenchy of Rome" Capucci
was born in Rome in 1929. He studied at the Accademia delle Belle Arti in Rome. His first job was with the designer Emilio
Schuberth. In 1950, he established his own fashion house. Creating unusual, sculpted dresses in original materials, Capucci
bewitched the fashion world and has, since his debut, been featured in shows representing most talented and renowned designers.
He opened a couture salon in Paris in 1962, but later returned to Rome, re-establishing himself in the via Gregoriana. He
withdrew from the formal fashion world in 1980, preferring to present a single collection each year in a different city. He did this from 1982–1996.he has also designed
uniforms for the staff of Jet Airways, India's biggest airline
to World War II - 1939 1945, New York fashion designers made the trek across the Atlantic Ocean to attend the flamboyant and opulent French fashion shows
each year. They then returned to the United States and copied the latest Parisian haute couture designs. Once the Germans
occupied Paris and the United States stationed battleships in the Atlantic Ocean, the New York designers were cut off from
Paris haute couture. In their attempts to design new fashions for the United States market, they concentrated on sportswear.
This led to the United States emerging as the sportswear capital of the world.
In 1941, war good manufacturing
took center stage. The government confiscated all stock of natural fabrics, forcing domestic manufacturers to concentrate
on substituting other fibers for domestic garments. The industry geared up rayon production. Nylon stockings disappeared in
During 1942, the War Production Board began severely
restricting the amount of yardage used in garments. On March 8, 1942 the War Production Board issued regulation L - 85, which regulated every aspect of clothing. Stanley Marcus
was the apparel consultant to the War Production Board. At this time he took the stand that it was the designers patriotic
duty to design fashions which would remain stylish through multiple seasons.
Through the mid-1930's, the natural waistline was often accompanied
by emphasis on an empire line, this can be seen in the photo above, as well as through the few fashion photobooks from the war period. 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.Evening dresses with matching jackets were worn to the theatre, nighclubs, 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
flapper dress of the The 1920s gave way to the glamorous, sensuous look of the 1930s. The big-band swing era provided a perfect backdrop for dresses that
clung to the body above the hips and draped in graceful folds below. Hemlines fell and the backless evening gown gained immense
popularity. In 1930 the fashion writer for the chic magazine New Orleanian recommended
a twenty-five-dollar metallic-cloth dress with Grecian lines as "very apropos for the young matron" at a Carnival
ball. During the decade, Hollywood began to influence fashion. Joan Crawford's 1932 role in Letty Lynton helped narrow
hips. During World War II, the War Production Board sought to conserve fabric. Its L-85 order prohibited full skirts and knife
pleats, while another order limited the use of lace and embroidery. Despite these restrictions, American designers came into
their own due to loss of communication with the French during the Nazi occupation.
Throughout the 1930s and
early '40s, a second influence vied with the Paris couturiers as a wellspring for new fashion ideas: the American cinema.
Paris designers such as Schiaparelli and Lucien Lelong acknowledged the impact of film costumes on their work. Le Long 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.
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
"feminine" look. Other aspects of fashion from the 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 1930s.
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.
But it is Schiaparelli who is credited with "changing the outline of fashion from soft to hard, from vague
to definite." 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. Wide shoulders would remain a staple of fashion until after the war.
Gloves were "enormously
important" in this period.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 colors.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 bow.
belt is a woman's undergarment consisting of an elastic piece of cloth worn around the waist to which garters are attached
to hold up stockings. In British English they are also known as suspender belts.
The garter belt was the vintage
precursor to pantyhose (tights in British English). A return to retro styled garter belts and stockings has become especially
popular due to the ultra feminine iconization of pin up girls of the past. Once a forgotten and overlooked undergarment from
the past, the popularity of garter belts and matching stockings have made a terrific comeback with most modern department
stores selling a wide assortment.
Glamour, conservativeness and femininity were the defining words
of 1930s female fashions. Whereas a youth culture had sprung up and taken firm hold throughout the fashion world during the
roaring 1920s, the stock market crash in October 1929 reverberated in every aspect of society, so that by 1930, the Great
Depression had settled in and everyone wanted adults in charge. Thus, women’s clothes went from loose tops and dresses
that ended at the knees to form-fitting garments that fell to the mid-calf for day wear and to the floor for evening gowns.
A conservative, traditional look was desired by both men and women.
This is not to say that all youthfulness was
stripped from women’s clothing. Some fashions of the 1930s woman were almost oppressively girlish, with giant ruffles
and bows at the neck and shoulders. Peter Pan collars were seen on a lot of day wear, even for adult women. And although the
hard times demanded a lot of practicality, there were still many fussy, absurd hats and winter coats that didn’t fasten
up the front. On the other side, suits and even trousers were becoming more popular as more women entered the workforce and
everyone had less time for frivolity.
also affected men's civilian clothes during the war years. The British "Utility Suit" and American "Victory
Suit" were both made of wool-synthetic blend yarns, without pleats, cuffs (turn-ups), sleeve buttons or patch pockets;
jackets were shorter, trousers were narrower, and double-breasted suits were made without vests (waistcoats). Men who were
not in unform could, of course, continue to wear pre-war suits they already owned, and many did so.
A zoot suit has high-waisted,
wide-legged, tight-cuffed pegged trousers (called tramas) and a long coat (called the carlango) with wide lapels and wide
padded shoulders. Often zoot suiters wear a felt hat with a long feather (called a tapa or tanda) and pointy, French-style
shoes (called calcos). A young Malcolm X described the zoot suit as: "a killer-diller coat with a drape shape, reet pleats
and shoulders padded like a lunatic's cell." Zoot suits usually featured a key chain dangling from the belt to the
knee or below, then back to a side pocket. Zoot suits were for special occasions such as a dance or a birthday party.
The amount of material and tailoring required made them luxury items. Many young people wore a more moderate version of the
"extra-bagged" pants or styled their hair in the signature "duck tail". The oversized suit was an
extravagant personal style and a declaration of freedom and auto-determination; although many people still consider it a "rebellious
garment to the era."
the early years of the 1910s the fashionable silhouette became much more lithe, fluid and soft than in the 1900s. When the
mohohuiBallets Russes performed Scheherazade in Paris in 1910, a craze for Orientalism ensued. The couturier Paul Poiret was
one of the first designers to translate this vogue into the fashion world. Poiret's clients were at once transformed into
harem girls in flowing pantaloons, turbans, and vivid colors and geishas in exotic kimono. Paul Poiret also devised the first
outfit which women could put on without the help of a maid. The Art Deco movement began to emerge at this time and its influence
was evident in the designs of many couturiers of the time. Simple felt hats, turbans, and clouds of tulle replaced the styles
of headgear popular in the 1900s. It is also notable that the first real fashion shows were organized during this period in
time, by the first female couturier, Jeanne Paquin, who was also the first Parisian couturier to open foreign branches in
London, Buenos Aires, and Madrid. Two of the most influential fashion kjreflected light. His distinguished customers
never lost a taste for his fluid lines and flimsy, diaphanous materials. While obeying imperatives that left little to the
imagination of the couturier, Doucet was nonetheless a designer of immense taste and discrimination, a role many have tried
since, but rarely with Doucet's level of success.
Daniel Cook's thought-provoking examination of the children's
clothing industry in the United States sheds new light on the development of children's consumer culture in the twentieth
century. Focusing on the years between 1917, when the children's wear industry launched its first trade journal, and the
end of the baby boom in the early 1960s, Cook demonstrates how children's wear became increasingly age segmented as merchants
and manufacturers began designing goods and retail spaces with children's needs and desires in mind. Cook identifies the
1930s as the major turning point when merchants, manufacturers, and advertisers of children's wear recognized children
rather than mothers as their primary consumer target. This shift, Cook argues, marked the emergence of a new marketing perspective--what
Cook provocatively terms "pediocularity"--that viewed "the world through children's eyes" instead
of a mother's eyes
Cook provides an informative account of how children's wear merchandising became increasingly
segmented and child focused. Before World War I merchandising of children's wear was rather limited. Only one factory
specialized in children's clothes before 1890, and mass merchandisers often stocked children's clothing with adult
clothing in various departments throughout the store. Clothing, in other words, was organized by type rather than age. As
publisher of the trade journal Infants' Department, George Earnshaw played a pivotal role in pressing retailers to devote
floor space and specially trained salesclerks to children's departments. This strategy first gained traction in infants'
departments, which courted the loyalty of mothers by hosting talks about infant care and staging baby contests during the
U.S. Children's Bureau's "Baby Week" campaigns. By the late 1920s, department stores and chains like Sears
and Montgomery Ward began including children's departments that catered to school-age boys and girls. Most strikingly,
in the 1930s children's clothing departments were divided and subdivided into a range of gender and age groupings.
Cook highlights a variety of factors that made manufacturers more attentive to the child's point of view in the
1930s. Faced with shrinking markets in the Depression, merchants and manufacturers likely saw greater age segmentation as
an opportunity to expand demand. By recognizing that children possessed personal desires and stressing the importance of personality
development, childrearing advice also helped legitimize the practice of giving children a greater say in their own clothing.
In translating such advice, women's magazines encouraged parents to consider children's preferences and concerns about
fitting in with their peers when selecting clothing. They also suggested that allowing children to choose their clothing helped
children learn good taste. Children's popular culture also advanced child-focused merchandising. Child stars like Jane
Withers, Judy Garland, and Mickey Rooney all either had their own clothing lines or endorsed children's wear. Cook in
particular credits Shirley Temple, whose own stage dresses and retail line of clothing had a toddler "look," for
helping to make the toddler-size style range for girls a viable new merchandising category.
Wartime austerity lead to restrictions on the number of new clothes
that people bought and the amount of fabric that clothing manufacturers could use. Women working on war service adopted trousers
as a practical necessity. The nylon stocking was introduced in the US in 1940, to huge success, but later withdrawn as all supplies were needed for military uses such as parachutes. When nylon stockings
reappeared in the shops there were "nylon riots" as customers fought over the first deliveries In Britain,
clothing was strictly rationed, with a system of "points", and the Board of Trade issued regulations for "Utility
Clothes" in 1941, and in America the War Production Board issued its Regulation L85 on March 8, 1942, specifying restrictions
for every item of women's clothing. Easily laddered stockings were a particular concern in Britain; women were forced
to either paint them on (including the back seam) or to join the WRNS, who continued to issue them, in a cunning aid to recruitment. Later in the war, American soldiers became a source of the
new nylon stockings.
"In olden days a glimpse of stockings, Was looked on
as something shocking, Now heaven knows, Anything goes." -- Cole Porter
Fashion of the 1930s was directly influenced by the Wall Street Crash of October 24, 1929 and the subsequent Depression. The Autumn, 1930 Sears Catalogue admonished, "Thrift is the spirit
of the day. Reckless spending is a thing of the past." The focus turned away from new clothing for every season and moved
to reusing and remaking the clothes one already owned. The beginning of the decade saw women sewing more. Clothing was mended
and patched before being replaced. It was also during this time that the practice of changing clothes several times each day
fell out of style. (Before this time, many people had different outfits for morning, afternoon, and evening).
new passion for hiking, sports, sunbathing, and even nudism, invites briefer sportswear. Bathing suits are slashed and backless,
made of linen and lastex yarn. Bare midriffs are everywhere in the late 30's. Womens gloves usually matched their shoes
and handbags. Hats were worn at an angle. Pill boxes became popular along with brimmed hats. Towards the end of the decade,
turbans emerged. Fashionable hats range from the pillbox toque, trimmed turban, and Basque beret.
Women of the
30's were quite pale since a suntan was seen as lower class. Rouge, lipstick, and eye shadow were used to brighten their
faces, and women used artificial eyelashes that took two hours to apply in a salon. Women's hair was fairly short and
generally styled in finger-waves or soft curls with hardly any body.
Sportswear has been called America's main contribution to
the history of fashion design. The term became popular in the 1920s to describe relaxed, casual wear typically worn for spectator
sports. Since the 1930s the term is used to describe both day and evening fashions of varying degrees of formality that demonstrate
this relaxed approach whilst remaining appropriate wear for many business or social occasions.
described clothing made specifically for sport. One of the first couturiers to specialise in this was John Redfern who in
the 1870s began designing tailored garments for increasingly active women who rode, played tennis, went yachting, and did
archery. Redfern's clothes, although intended for specific sporting pursuits, were adopted as everyday wear by his clients,
making him probably the first sportswear designer.
Some early 20th century Paris designers such as Gabrielle Chanel
created haute couture designs that could be considered sportswear, though were not exclusively sportswear designers. Chanel
promoted her own active, financially independent lifestyle through her relaxed jersey suits and uncluttered dresses. Other
designers offering high end sportswear for resort wear included Jean Patou and Elsa Schiaparelli. In contrast to the flexibility
of American sportswear, these expensive couture garments were prescribed to be worn in very specific circumstances.
The precursors of true sportswear emerged in New York before the Second World War. 1930s designers such as Clare Potter
and Claire McCardell were among the first American designers to gain name recognition through their innovative clothing designs.
Richard Martin described these designers as aiming to produce clothes demonstrating "problem-solving ingenuity and realistic
lifestyle applications". McCardell has been called America's greatest sportswear designer. Her simple, practical
clothes suited the relaxed American dress code, neither formal nor informal, that became established during the 1930s and
1940s. Sportswear uses elements of sporty informal or casual wear such as Clare Potter's innovative evening sweater and evening
skirt draped like a side saddle riding habit.
felt the negative impact of the Great Depression, designers stopped experimenting because of the lessened demand for clothes.
Trends in women fashion though emphasized a romantic, womanly silhouette. The waist was brought back to its proper position, with hemlines being
dropped. Fashion emphasized on the bust, while backless evening gowns became the norm. The female body was modified to a more
contemporary tone, while having athletic bodies became a trend. The popularity of having slim and toned down bodies resulted
into couturiers to manufacture what is now known as the sportswear. While the concept of "ready-to-wear" was unknown
then, boutiques were already making clothes known as being "for sport."
In the 1930s, Elsa Schiaparelli with Madeleine Vionnet rose
to prominence. Both were known for their innovative designs while not shattering the fundamentals of fashion. Schiaparelli
became popular with her black knitted white bow. She became known for her exciting designs since then. Some of her noteworthy
creations were the desk suit complemented with drawers for pockets, and the shoe-shaped hat. She also made silk dresses coloured
on the other hand got her inspiration in designing clothes from ancient statues. She created classical gowns that more often
than not seemed taken out of a Greek frieze. She also manufactured dresses that suited the body less the unwarranted accessories,
in turn creating a flowing and stylish line. By the time she retired at the end of the decade, Vionnet had enjoyed a reputation
among fashion industry movers.
The year was 1914 and Madeleine Vionnet had just established
her own maison of couture. She was already a seasoned dressmaker—she’d begun her first apprenticeship at age 11
nearly 30 years earlier—by the time World War I came banging down France’s door, and the designer responded by
shuttering her own and fleeing to Rome. It might have been devastating timing for a lesser designer, but closing her Parisian
atelier just two years after opening it provided the catalyst for Vionnet’s greatest inspirational encounters.
Once in Italy, Vionnet found herself immersed in the arts of the ancient Greek and Roman
worlds. Those works became a fascination that would provide the basis of her style aesthetic from the time she returned to
Paris and re-established her maison in 1919 until she died on this day in 1975, at the indomitable age of 98 years old. “I
like to look at old costumes and fashions of times gone by because of what they say about their times,” Vionnet explained
in an interview published in French Vogue a month after her death. Vionnet’s designs were, “not for fashion,”
she explained. “I only like that which lasts forever.” Certainly the flowing drapery and dynamic swaths of cloth
that covered women in antiquity inspired her work, but Vionnet did more than give rise to a second renaissance for the classical
The genius behind Vionnet’s fluid yards of silks and chiffons,
crepes and satins lay in the fresh way she cut those luxurious fabrics: The bias cut. Contrary to the practice of other dressmakers,
Vionnet cut fabric not on the grain, but at a 45-degree angle to it. As a result, her silks, chiffons, crepes and satins gained
a natural elasticity that followed the natural curves of the female body. It was an inspiration that literally changed the
silhouette of ladies dress. The new bias-cut brought a simplified ease to dressing, and it also brought its infamous body-clinging
nature, the best of which was exhibited on Hollywood starlets such as Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford and Jean Harlow, who all
wore Vionnet’s designs. The essence of Vionnet’s sensibility was captured in 1931 by Vogue photographer George
Hoyningen-Huene—the swirling yards of fabric enveloping the model evoking a modern-day Nike. The second World War marked
the retirement of Vionnet. Over the next thirty years, Vionnet continued to live in Paris and mentor other designers, including
Jacques Griffe. Like the art and architecture of ancient Greece and Rome—the muses of her creations—Vionnet’s
designs remain as awe-inspiring today as they were a century ago.
decade of the 1930s saw dramatic changes in mens fashion. It began with the great Wall Street Crash of October 24, 1929. By
1931, eight million people were out of work in the United States. Less or no work meant little or no money to spend on clothing.
The garment industry witnessed shrinking budgets, and going-out-of-business sales were prevalent. The Edwardian tradition
of successive clothing changes throughout the day finally died. Tailors responded to the change in consumer circumstances
by offering more moderately priced styles.
In the early part of the decade, mens suits
were modified to create the image of a large torso. Shoulders were squared using wadding or shoulder pads and sleeves were
tapered to the wrist. Peaked lapels framed the v-shaped chest and added additional breadth to the wide shoulders. This period also was a rise in the popularity of the double-breasted suit, the precursor of the modern business suit.
Masculine elegance demanded jackets with long, broad lapels, two, four, six or even eight buttons, square shoulders and ventless
tails. Generous-cut, long trousers completed the look. These suits appeared in charcoal, steel or speckled gray, slate, navy
and midnight blue. Dark fabrics were enhanced by herringbone and stippled vertical and diagonal stripes.
In winter, brown cheviot was popular. In spring, accents of white, red or blue silk fibers were woven into soft wool. The
striped suit became a standard element in a mans wardrobe at this time. Single, double, chalk, wide and narrow stripes were
all in demand.
The primary influence on
the fashionable shape of the 1930s was the bias-cut dress introduced by Madame Madeleine Vionnet. Dress construction and fabric
emphasized the female shape, creating a streamlined effect in keeping with the general aesthetic of the period. Fabrics were
draped to create soft necklines and deep backs. Evening clothes became more distinct from day wear; long gowns for women and
tuxedos or tails for men were common attire for night clubs. Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers were paragons of style. As American
designers such as Hattie Carnegie and Adele Simpson gained prominence during World War II, the silhouette became more curvaceous
with a closely fitted bodice and waist.
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 "feminine"
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 1930s.
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. 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.
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. By the early 1940s, shoulder length curls or page-boy cuts
were most popular. 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. Hats were worn for most occasions,
almost always tipped to one side and decorated with bits of net veiling, feathers, ribbons, or brooches.
The popularity of stockings
increases and decreases with fashion. It was formerly made of woven cloth but now of knitted wool, silk, cotton or nylon (see
hosiery). The word stock used to refer to the bottom "stump" part of the body, and by analogy the word was used
to refer to the one-piece covering of the lower trunk and limbs essentially tights consisting of the upper-stocks (later to
be worn separately as knee breeches) and nether-stocks (later to be worn separately as stockings).
covering the foot and part of the calf only, are commonly called socks. This word is an adaptation of Latin soccus, a slipper
or light shoe. It was the shoe worn by the actors in Roman comedy and so was used symbolically of comedy, as buskin, the high
boot, was of tragedy.
Pierre Balmain opened his
own salon in 1945. It was in a series of collections named 'Jolie Madame' that he experienced his greatest success,
from 1952 onwards. Balmain's vision of the elegantly-dressed woman was particularly Parisian and was typified by the tailored
glamour of the New Look, with its ample bust, narrow waist, and full skirts, by mastery of cut and imaginative assemblies
of fabrics in subtle color combinations. His sophisticated clientèle was equally at home with luxurious elegance, simple
tailoring, and a more natural look. Along with his haute couture work, the talented businessman pioneered a ready-to-wear
range called Florilege and also launched a number of highly successful perfumes.
Menswear was also influenced
by movies and its actors. "During the 1930s men also began to discard their undershirts supposedly because Clark Gable
took off his shirt in a movie and only his bare chest was visible. Warm shirts in large plaids, and early in the 30s the single
breasted jacket was the male look. Later in the decade, double breasted jackets became popular yet again and the front of
the man's jacket was higher.
The outfits worn by the
fashionable women of the 'Belle Époque' (as this era was called by the French) were strikingly similar to those
worn in the heyday of the fashion pioneer Charles Worth. By the end of the nineteenth century, the horizons of the fashion
industry had generally broadened, partly due to the more mobile and independent lifestyle many well-off women were beginning
to adopt and the practical clothes they demanded. However, the fashions of the La Belle Époque still retained the elaborate,
upholstered, hourglass-shaped style of the 1800s. As of yet, no fashionable lady would (or could) dress or undress herself
without the assistance of a third party. The constant need for radical change, which is now essential for the survival of
fashion within the present system, was still literally unthinkable.
Conspicuous waste and conspicuous consumption
defined the fashions of the decade and the outfits of the couturiers of the time were incredibly extravagant, elaborate, ornate,
and painstakingly made. The curvaceous S-Bend silhouette dominated fashion up until around 1908. The S-Bend corset was very
tightly laced at the waist and so forced the hips back and the drooping mono bosom was thrust forward in a pouter pigeon effect
creating an S shape. Toward the end of the decade the fashionable silhouette gradually became somewhat more straight and slim,
partly due to Paul Poiret's high-waisted, shorter-skirted Directoire line of clothes.
The Maison Redfern
was the first fashion house to offer women a tailored suit based directly on its male counterpart and the extremely practical
and soberly elegant garment soon became an indispensable part of the wardrobe of any well-dressed woman. Another indispensable
part of the outfit of the well-dressed woman was the designer hat. Fashionable hats at the time were either tiny little confections
that perched on top of the head, or large and wide brimmed, trimmed with ribbons, flowers, and even feathers. Parasols were
still used as decorative accessories and in the summer they dripped with lace and added to the overall elaborate prettiness.
An umbrella or parasol (sometimes colloquially,
gamp, brolly, umbrellery, or bumbershoot) is a canopy designed to protect against precipitation or sunlight. The term parasol
usually refers to an item designed to protect from the sun, and umbrella refers to a device more suited to protect from rain.
Often the difference is the material; some parasols are not waterproof. Parasols are often meant to be fixed to one point
and often used with patio tables or other outdoor furniture, or for shelter from the sun. Umbrellas are almost exclusively
hand-held portable devices; however, parasols can also be hand-held. Umbrellas can be held as fashion statements in the twenty
first century for some men and women and are sometimes seen as simple accessories that complete an outfit.
The word umbrella is from the Latin word umbra, which in turn derives from the Ancient Greek ómbros
(όμβρος). Its meaning is shade or shadow. Brolly is a slang word for umbrella, used often
in Britain, New Zealand and Australia. Bumbershoot is a fanciful Americanism from the late 19th century.
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