Exploring The Meaning Of Women’s Fashion During The 1920’s And 1930’s

1776 words - 8 pages

From the conventional Victorian dresses of the 1800’s to the rock-and-roll tee shirts of the 1980’s, American culture has experienced incredibly diverse trends in clothing. This ever changing timeline of fashion provokes the question: what is the cause of such differing styles? By considering the state of society throughout the eras, it can be seen that clothing directly correlates with the current way of life. Specifically, American women’s fashion of the 1920’s and 1930’s proves to not simply be a meaningless trend – rather an accurate reflection of the specific era.
As the stock market booms and society prospers, women’s fashion undergoes drastic change during the 1920’s. The hems of skirts and dresses rise to newer, more promiscuous level. The traditional long hair, supposedly the crowning glory of a women, is cut shoulder-length or shorter. Defined waistlines are lost, giving way to a shapeless and loose fitting style of clothing. Manufacturing of cosmetics emerges during this decade, and a variety of products become popular among women. The famous Gabrielle Chanel, more commonly known as “Coco Chanel,” introduces her renowned perform in the late 1920s (Yarwood 139). Peggy Whitley, dean at Lone Star College, sums up the newfound cosmetic craze in her American Cultural article: “Powder, lipstick, rouge, eyebrow pencil, eye shadow, colored nails. They had it all!” Associated with the distinct new styles of the era, the iconic “flapper girl” is born. This term is often used for women who donned the edgy style of the time, particularly with a defiant and independent outlook on life. Outside the exciting and rebellious life of the flapper girl, everyday clothing also experiences significant change. Relaxed sport’s attire becomes a popular leisure wear; women can be seen wearing bathing suits, tennis uniforms, golfing attire, sailor blouses, and wide-brimmed hats. Tailored suits are also often worn, especially for business and work. Accentuated by suits, waist less dresses and flattened busts, fashion during this time is often described as “garçonne” (translated as ‘tomboy’ in French) because of its boyish appearance. (University of Vermont, “Women’s Clothing.”) After analyzing all the significant new trends that emerged during the 1920’s, it is clear that women’s fashion quickly took a sharp turn from the traditional Victorian style. As University of Vermont eloquently claims in a research article, “Women's 1920’s fashions all broke free of the physical and social constraints of the previous century.”
What caused such radical transformation of American fashion during this decade? By observing the culture and way of life during this time, much evidence is found linking society with the fashion styles of the day. During the 1920’s, prosperity is high as stock markets were booming and the unemployment rate is at a low 5.2% (Whitley, Peggy). This success leads to a widespread extravagant lifestyle. Glamorous parties are thrown, accompanied by...

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