Styles of the 1920s and 1930s

Written by pamela mooman
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Styles of the 1920s and 1930s
Women's fashion, including the famous "flapper" look of the 1920s, evolved between the 1920s and the 1930s. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)

The 1920s and 1930s were decades of change for America. The 1920s were a time of wealth and luxury, while the 1930s were a more sober time as the economy sank. Each decade has its specific fashion styles, however, no matter how good or bad times were. Both day and evening fashions for women and men reflected society's relationship to the economy and its perception of the evolution of society.

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1920s Dressing for Women

Short hair was favoured throughout the decade. Women who kept their long locks pulled it back at the nape of their neck in a chignon. Boy-like figures were the desired shape, and waistlines fell to the hip. Hemlines gradually went up toward the middle of the 1920s, when the famous "flapper" look gained popularity, then hems came down again, with uneven hems favoured. Long necklaces -- in particular, strings of pearls -- were the accessories of choice, and tan or flesh coloured stockings were popular. Red lips, dark eyes, and powdered skin completed the 1920s feminine look.

1930s Dressing for Women

During the 1930s, more feminine styles came back into shape, emphasising the bosom, hips, and waistline. Fabrics were cut on the bias to cling softly to the body. Hair was generally still short, but worn with soft curls at the nape of the neck.

Styles of the 1920s and 1930s
Attire for women in the 1930s became more body-conscious than that of the 1920s, which favoured a boy-like figure. (George Marks/Retrofile/Getty Images)

1920s Attire for Men

The most popular fashion for working men in the 1920s was the suit. This style has been immortalised from different characters ranging from Al Capone to F. Scott Fitzgerald. Men's fashion in the 1920s was highly influenced by athletes and other famous people, such as Charles Lindburgh. Men generally wanted to look younger and more athletic and favoured slender white shirts under their suits. Hats such as driving caps and fedoras were popular. Short fat ties were worn for daily looks, while bowties were popular for evening wear.

Styles of the 1920s and 1930s
Suits became the outfit of choice for working men in the 1920s. ( Images)

1930s Attire for Men

After the great Wall Street crash on Oct. 24, 1929, the clothing industry changed drastically. There was less money to buy clothes, and the Edwardian tradition of changing outfits several times a day died out. During the early 1930s, men's suits were made to create the look of a large torso, with wide shoulders and slender waists. The double-breasted suit also became popular. Dark fabrics with herringbone patterns were popular, as was plaid. In 1935, the "London cut" suit became popular, with tapering sleeves, high pockets and buttons, and pointed, wide lapels flaring from the top. The legendary "Palm Beach" suit, eventually made of gaberdine, was also a highlight of 1930s men's fashion.

Styles of the 1920s and 1930s
Men's suits had padded shoulders and narrow waists to make men look younger and more athletic. (George Marks/Retrofile/Getty Images)

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