Each decades brings with it a new fashion sense that is both influenced by what has come before and is consciously aware of its current surroundings. This is especially true for men and women’s fashion in the 1920s. Coming into a climate of drastic economic growth and the diminishing memory of the First World War, fashion in the 1920s emphasized breaking away from tradition and embracing personal liberty and expression.
The Roaring Twenties certainly earned their name due to a fondness for scandalous fashions and raucous behavior. Men abandoned many of the stuffy traditional fashion of years past. This meant high collars and military style coats and tails were out and relaxed three piece suits were in. Sportswear came into fashion during this time for men and bright colors and whites became vogue.
However, the true advances in fashion were heralded by women who threw off the conservative styles of past decades, abandoning the corset and ankle length dresses weighed down by pounds of undergarments. Short, knee length skirts and trousers became fashionable and embodied in the iconic Flapper, a symbol of liberated women in the 1920s. At the forefront of this change was the legendary Coco Chanel, who helped push women to embrace this forwarding thinking fashion sense.
As the boom of the 20s waned into the bust of the 30s, fashion irrevocably changed course to keep up with these economic changes. As stated before, all periods of fashion can be viewed as a reaction to what came before and this is clearly apparent with 1930s fashion. A return to more conservative dress began as hard economic times made the upbeat and optimistic air of the 20s appear superfluous. Women’s fashion experienced the greatest degree of change, with skirt hems dropping lower, sweaters and bolero jackets acting as cover-ups and an emphasis on large padded shoulders.
Men’s wear in the 30s remained similar despite the introduction of a range of synthetic fibers, such as rayon, which allowed for cheaper clothing prices. Cruise wear and vacation clothing began to develop, resulting in Panama hats, beach pajamas and white dinner jackets, which were in vogue at tropical vacation destinations in the Caribbean.
Hollywood films also provided a huge source of inspiration for men and women’s fashion. Designers and the film industry worked hand in hand advancing people’s fashion sense during a period of economic uncertainty.