Long and Sleek in the 30s

Fashion in the 1930s could not be more different from the previous decade. Times were tough after the Great Depression of 1929, and clothing reflected this. Gone were the extravagances of the 1920s, clothing in the 30s was plain and simple and repaired and redesigned instead of making new. Women were much more conservative, but more feminine than the 20s.

Greta Garbo, Hollywood’s starlet, was the most prominent influence for the fashion of the 30s. Women recreated the Hollywood look of long and sleek, a more sophisticated look than the ‘Flapper’ style of the 20s. Skirts lengthened to calf length, and from the natural waistline flared out emphasising curves and femininity. Bra cup sizing started, which introduced the two separate items of lingerie rather than the one pieces worn before.

The skirt-suit was really introduced in the 1930s (obviously becoming most prominent by the 80s). Suits were well fitted, again emphasising the small waist, and feminine with pleats rather than the masculine look that suits developed into.

The economic climate had a huge influence on the fashion during this decade. The start of the second World War in 1939 changed the fashions again going into the 1940s.


Flapper Fashion in the Roaring Twenties


Still image from ‘The Great Gatsby’. Isla Fisher as Myrtle and Elizabeth Debicki as Jordan, 2013.

The 1920s were thrust into the limelight in 2013 with the remake of The Great  Gatsby.  However, with the film’s costume designer, Catherine Martin, admitting  herself that she did not go into minute detail of replicating the exact fashion from the  ‘Roaring Twenties’, what is that fashion era all about?


Carey Mulligan wearing Miuccia Prada as Daisy Buchanan in ‘The Great Gatsby’

Fashion became more attainable for the normal woman after World War I. The styles  were much simpler, and therefor easy to recreate, so when we think of the style of  the 1920s we are thinking of what the ordinary women wore rather than just the  richest of society.


Actress Louise Brooks in a statement Cloche Hat.

At the mention of 1920’s fashion, we immediately picture the ‘Flapper’ fashion of the  shapeless shift dress, short sleek hair and perfectly glamourous makeup, but this  style didn’t actually come into play until later on in the decade. In the early twenties, dresses and coats were much longer than we think – calf length, and conservative.  Hemlines gradually began to rise, and then the radical movement of cutting hair into short bobs to fit under the cloche hat.

The waistlines of the shift dresses began to fall, and the knife-pleated skirts came into play in the Charleston era. The ‘boyish’ figure was popular, the low waistlines helping to disguise the bust rather than accentuate it. Underwear was changed to support this; the corset was abandoned and replaced by a camisole with knickers then later developed into all-in-one lingerie.

download (1)

The Fashion Queen of the 20s, Coco Chanel.

Coco Chanel was undoubtedly the fashion queen of the 20s. As one of the first to cut her hair, wear trousers (shock horror!) and rejected the old fashioned corset, she led the fashion forward era. Chanel’s staple cardigan jacket was released in 1925, following on from the world famous fragrance of Chanel No 5 that was launched in 1922.

The Chanel Cardigan Jacket is still a staple, nearly 90 years on.

The Chanel Cardigan Jacket is still a staple, nearly 90 years on.


The 1920s proved to be a very bohemian era for fashion, with ideas that were many years ahead of the time. Possibly the most influential decade for women, the changing styles following the women’s movement and almost bolstering it along. Can fashion really be that influential?