Women enjoyed a sense of independence in the 1920s that stemmed from increased responsibilities placed on them during World War I as well as the women's suffrage movement resulting in their newly won right to vote. Fashions reflected this sense of female independence. Although the Great Depression was looming and would force great sacrifices by 1930, fashions were still about the fun and flirty flapper in 1929.
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Comfort and Ease
The Victorian style that had ruled during the beginning of the 20th century called for items like bustles and corsets to literally hold women into the formal, stiff dresses. This was turned completely on its ear in the 1920s as dresses became more loosefitting, with a waist that dropped lower and lower.
By the late 1920s, the typical waist of a dress was around the hips. Boyish bodies were in vogue for women and the new styles needed no restricting undergarments in these tubelike dresses. Women had taken to wearing trousers and men's dress shirts as well, which was another comfortable style for women by 1929.
Scandalously High Hemlines
Hemlines had been raised throughout the 1920s as if they were a metaphorical barometer for women's new-found sense of freedom. In the beginning of the decade, dress hemlines were at the ankle or mid-calf. By the mid '20s, hems went as high as the knee with the flapper style in vogue.
Dresses were frilly and fringed to go along with a flapper's short, bobbed hair. Hemlines calmed down a bit by 1929 and settled just below the knee in many dresses. Evening dresses in 1929 had a hemline anywhere from mid-calf to floor length.
The cut, style and materials being used for many women's fashions in the late '20s were similar to those being used in other cultures. This may partly be the reason behind styles from the Orient, India and other cultures gaining popularity.
Satin, brightly coloured kimonos and Japanese-style lounging pyjamas came into vogue and were considered the height of luxury and sophistication. Long satin robes with Asian designs on the back were also seen on women in 1929. Turbans or a head wrap of some sort would be worn with many of these lounging outfits.
Hats had been a beautiful accessory to tie together the perfect outfit for centuries and the decade of the 1920s were no exception to that rule. The large-brimmed hats from the turn of the century were replaced with smaller styles in the 1920s.
By the end of the decade in 1929, many women had bobbed their hair short and small hats would easily fit over their hair. Close-fitting caps that covered the ears and most of the head were trendy. Women matched their hats, shoes, handbags and even gloves to the colours of their dresses. Long strings of pearls or beads were worn with these well-crafted looks.
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