1920's Womens Fashion
1920's Fashions for Women
1920's ladies fashions featured brighter and more vibrant colors than fashions from the previous decades, including the Victorian era. Following on from the depressing circumstances of the Great War (Now known as World War 1) and the post-war recession, most people were hoping for a better future with greatly improved living conditions. This widespread optimism was publicly expressed in the bright colors of fashionable clothing like dresses, coats, hats, shoes, stockings, handbags and other fashion accessories for the well-dressed woman. The 1920's era was a colorful and liberating time for women, and also for women's clothing fashions. These changes were manifest in diverse ways as we explain in the summaries and ladies fashion modules that follow below.
Dress and skirt hemlines rose annually throughout most of the twenties decade. After starting from just above the ankle, and gradually rising to knee level, hems fell again briefly in the late 1920's; also sleeveless dresses were introduced and became very popular almost immediately. Brighter colors, simpler designs, beads, new synthetic materials like Rayon, new cuts and styling were incorporated in dresses made from considerably less yards of material than had been used previously. French fashion designers established themselves as the leading worldwide trend-setters in designing clothing fashions for both women and men. Paper template dressmaking patterns were introduced to make it easier for women to create the new style fashions at home, and correspondence school lessons in dressmaking and millinery became extremely popular with women in the cities and rural communities.
Womens underwear experienced a revolution with the beginning of a major move from restrictive corsets to lighter and more practical underthings that provided increased freedom of movement. The modern style of bra was first introduced in the early 1920's and rapidly increased in popularity throughout the decade (see the 1925 Nemo-flex Bra Advert below as an example).
The new lighter weight and less restrictive fashions, especially undergarments, made it easier for women to play sport, dance the new dances, and drive automobiles. The trendy young "liberated" and fashion conscious women of the 1920's were known as flappers.
Shoes and stockings became the focus of more attention as fashion items once their visibility increased due to raised hemlines on dresses. The color and designs of footwear and hosiery (stockings) assumed greater importance as part of co-ordinated outfits, which led designers and manufacturers to introduce new and varied colors, styles, materials, and patterns. Silk and Lisle stockings in trendy pastel shades were all the rage with women of all ages.
In the 1920's Womens swimsuits evolved from being dark-colored, heavy, baggy and rather ugly encumbrances to form-fitting and light-weight colorful bathing costumes. However, bureaucratic attitudes to the new bathing suits were much slower to change, leading to well publicized conflicts between female bathers and law enforcement officials.
Ladies Hats started off the 1920's decade with wide brims and ended up with little or none! Short hair styles meant that close fitting felt cloche hats in colors to match the colorful dress ensembles were more popular than the traditional wide brimmed style of hat (see the illustration below which shows both styles).
Millinery correspondence lessons, like those published by the Woman's Institute of Scranton, Pa were extremely popular and enabled women to save money by designing and making their own hats, or even start their own millinery business.
Beaded handbags and purses in stunning colors and patterns, lined with satin or silk, were all the rage during the 1920's. Beaded belts, bracelets and necklaces complemented the pretty handbags and purses. If you couldn't afford to buy the latest in beaded fashion accessories, you made your own!
1920's Jewelry designs took their inspiration from, and were influenced by, popular subjects of the day, like - nature, the Orient, and ancient Egypt. Simple jewelry designs based on geometric shapes and incorporating semi-precious stones were in vogue. Platinum was the "in" metal of the 1920's. Flappers typically wore long strings of beads. Beautiful jeweled brooches and long pins were used to help hold clothes in position, while also doubling as dress ornamentation.
Picture above - Ladies Fashions from 1928. Note the carefully color co-ordinated outfits, varied dress lengths, bright colors, and the diverse hat styles of the fashionable women above! Unfortunately you are unable to see their shoes and stockings, so you cannot get a complete picture of their 1920's fashion outfits.
1920's Clothing and Hairstyle Fashions for Women - Digital 1920's Books on Fashion and Hairstyles for Download on eBay
Excellent low-cost books on 1920's dressmaking and hairdressing.
The hard to find hairdressing books were written by award winning expert hairdressers of the twenties. You can create beautiful 1920's hairdos using these genuine 1920's hairdressing techniques.
If you need the information NOW - these reproductions of popular 1920's books are available for instant purchase and immediate download.
NOTE: eBay have changed the rules on listing eBooks for sale so some of the books are temporarily unavailable on eBay. However you can find the same fashion and hairstyle books here in this collection of 1920's books
1920's Beaded Handbags and Fashion Accessories
Beads were used extensively on 1920's fashion apparel and accessories
Fashion Beading and Beaded Handbags 1920's Style
Beads have been around for centuries but the art of handcrafting beaded items reached its pinnacle and greatest expression in modern times during the 1920's when beading was promoted as a popular past-time for young and old.
Many fashion accessories of the 1920's used beads as a major or minor part of their construction or for decoration. Glass, metal, semi-precious stones, and even coral beads were used.
Beads were used to a greater or lesser degree in handbags, purses, headbands, belts, necklaces, rings, bracelets, dresses, watch fobs, buckles etc.
Making beaded items for personal use or gifts was a favorite past-time for ladies of all ages, and also a popular children's activity. Soldiers in convalescent homes whiled away dreary hours during their recuperation from war injuries by creating beaded articles for sale.
Many of the beaded items created in the 1920's have been passed down as family heirlooms, and are eagerly sought by collectors when they come up in estate sales. The beauty is timeless, and although fashions may change, the beauty of hand-made beaded articles holds a special fascination for each generation.
If you are interested in creating beaded items, there is a bead book on 1920-30.com that explains how to create genuine 1920's beaded handbags like the beautiful handbag pictured, plus a variety of other unique beaded fashion accessories for women and girls.
1920's Female Swimwear Fashions
1920's One-piece Ladies Bathing Costume
1920's Swimsuits for Women
In the early 1920's ladies bathing suits looked like the swimsuit in the picture on the right. They were almost neck to knee, one piece, and made from a heavy material like wool. The colors were usually dark colors in order to avoid them becoming transparent when wet. Stockings and bathing shoes made up the bathing attire. The form-fitting swimsuit in the picture was not entirely typical - perhaps when dry, but not when wet when they often became baggy. Early 1920's swimsuits tended to be loose fitting. Note the colorful beach-robe to preserve modesty.
By the end of the 1920's ladies swimsuits had evolved into different styles. A tank top reached down to the hips and integrated with a pair of fitted shorts. In keeping with dress fashions, bright colors like red and blue began to replace the browns and blacks, and bathing suits were more close fitting due to the newer materials being used and changing public attitudes.
Official attitudes to women's swimsuits took considerably longer to change, leading to many well publicized skirmishes with the law.
Ladies Hosiery Advertisement from 1924
Holeproof Hosiery Advertisement - Illustration by Coles Phillips
1920's Fashion Illustrations
Beautiful hand drawn illustrations, like this example created by talented U.S. illustrator Coles Phillips for Holeproof Hosiery, were used to promote fashion items to women. This particular Ad and its many variations were run in popular 1920's magazines like Cosmopolitan, Life, and Harper's between 1922 and 1924. Today twenties illustrations by illustrators like Coles Phillips are sought after by collectors.
Learn about 1920's Hairstyles
If you like this page of 1920's fashion information you are bound to like our 1920's hairstyle page. Discover the difference between finger waves and marcel waves and see what you prefer for yourself.
There's a link to it on the "Featured Lenses" module below. Check it out now!
Ladies Dress 1922
Ladies Country Club Outfit from 1922
Afternoon Dress from 1922
"FOR when they are blousey, they are very, very blousey!" Meaning, of course, these wide-sleeved, square-cut, long-waisted frocks that have reduced lines to their simplest form but refuse to skimp on material. They are distinctly "summerish," and undoubtedly "out-doorish," superb as to fabric, and nonchalant, even sports-like, as to cut. As a matter of fact, they look what they are-the absolutely right clothes for country club luncheon, bridge, or tea dance.
IT IS desirable this year that a dress of this type be white. And, like so many frocks of the season, "Country Club" also affects high color. The design, which reminds one rather of the smart printed effects, seems to have rung futuristic changes on a possibly Persian motif. It is worked out on the white canton crepe in beads of silvery green, tan, bold black, and a rich canna shade which is echoed in the wide hat of silk and straw and amusing rubberized ostrich quill.
One Piece dress from 1924
1924 Advertisement for a Butterick Dress Pattern
1924 Dress Pattern Advertisement
Heavy silk crepe, wool crepe or wool voile are suitable for this one-piece slip-over dress with tiers, a casing and elastic, etc.
Use satin, etc., for the hat with a gored crown.
36 bust and 22 inches head measure require 4 1/4 yards 39 inch heavy silk crepe and 1/2 yard 39 inch contrasting material, and for hat 5/8 yard 35 inch plaid satin (about 2 1/2 inch plaid). Lower edge 54 inches.
The dress is for ladies 33 to 44 bust, also misses; the hat for ladies and misses.
Butterick (1924) dress pattern 4978 and hat pattern 4973.
Ladies Evening Dress and Wrap 1925
Chiffon for Chiffon's Sake
1925 Evening Dress and Wrap
A dress and a wrap for midsummer dance parties.
FLOWERY prints are all very well, but chiffon can be equally smart on its own account, in plain colors. So often, when it's printed, one can't see the chiffon for the flowers.
This summer dance costume uses chiffon for its own sake. Each of its three clear colors, blended with care and cunning, is an individual sponsor of chiffon per se, unpatterned. The main interest of the dress lies in the double girdle, with its brilliant sash pieces. The blue foundation is straight and simple, cut with just enough fullness around the hem for easy dancing. The girdle itself is of the same sapphire chiffon, arranged in two strands. The hanging folds, softly pleated, are pure purple and pure cerise, respectively. They fall slightly lower than the dress itself.
The wrap is a deep-yoked cape, repeating the two brighter colors. Cerise chiffon is the chief material, with purple taking a lesser place, introduced only in the border and the scarf ends.
Buy 1920's Vintage Dresses Online - Beautiful Flapper Style Dresses from the 1920's For Sale
Stunning 1920's style Dresses
An excellent source of 1920's dresses and other clothing, both originals and reproductions - Explore the large selection on offer in eBay auctions - see examples below
1920's Hats for Women
Advice on Hats from a 1920s Millinery correspondence course
1920's Millinery Advice for Women
In considering points that lead to individuality in millinery, you will do well to remember that in every person there is something that is attractive. Then, when you have decided what this is, you should try to cultivate it.
Dress, which includes millinery, should be used to bring out individual qualities in people, and this cannot be done without the exercise of judgement regarding every detail.
When selecting a hat for yourself, put it on and study it from different angles and sides. Note just how it looks when you are standing and when you are sitting; decide whether it is right for one of your height, or stature; and be absolutely sure that the color, the texture and design of the material, and the trimming are exactly right for your type, taking into consideration your coloring, which includes hair, complexion, and eyes, your possession or lack of vivacity, the texture of your skin, the shape of your face, and every other point that has a bearing on becomingness. Follow this same process, too, if you are planning hats for others.
1920's Hats on eBay - Vintage and Reproduction 1920's Hats on eBay
Millinery Fashions of the 1920's
A 1920's outfit would be incomplete without a stylish hat. Here's a great selection to choose from, and you will find plenty more listed on eBay..
Ladies Dresses 1926
Rayon Rules in nineteen twenty-six
1926 Sports Dresses
Trim sports frocks of silk, flannel, and rayon. Myriad-tinted hosiery. Exquisite underthings more beautiful this year
FROCKS of silk and flannel for sports-of course! And now a new fabric-rayon-appears. This season the couturieres are using it in so many, many ways. Alone or skilfully combined with flannel, linen, cotton, or even with silk itself!
This season marks a new brilliance in color, too. Pastel shades are giving way to their brighter, bolder sisters-color is the keynote!
Nor is this predominance of color confined to costumes alone. All the lovely new underthlngs of silk, crepe de chine, rayon-hosiery, too-are exquisite, unusual in coloring-various enough to match each and every frock!
Colorful 1926 Fashions for Women
What the well-dressed young lady was wearing in 1926
The height of Fashion for Women in 1926
Note how the accessories like hats, shoes, handbags and purses are matched to the outfits or designed to complement other accessories. Note also the wide variety of bright colors. Hemlines were at knee level in 1926, having risen from ankle level.
Ladies Dress 1927
Ruffles Return in twenty-seven
1927 Dress with Ruffles
FASHIONS are feminine this spring and there Is nothing more feminine than ruffles. The charm, however, of this printed chiffon frock lies not only in the utter softness and delicacy of material and development but also in the evident contradiction of its being cut on straight sports lines. The chiffon is a vaguely patterned blue and white print and the trimming a cerise crepe Elizabeth. The large flower perched provocatively on the left shoulder is also cerise. The softly falling, finely pleated tiers of the skirt bound at the top with a band of shirring spread into gay ripples. Of sports origin too is the slave motif used in the ornament on the belt but adapted to chiffon it is wholly consistent.
Nemo-flex Brassieres from 1925
An example of an early 1920's Bra Advertisement
An Early Bra from 1925
SUBTLE but important are the changes wrought in the mode for fall. A new silhouette has appeared defining the figure more clearly. The waistline is going up- it's nearer the natural line of the waist than for many seasons past. Necks are going down-in a sharp, uncompromising V.
Hence changes in foundation garments, too! Girdles, combinations and brassieres for fall will more definitely round and shape the figure, cause it to follow more closely its own natural lines.
Long before the Paris openings had confirmed these tendencies, the House of Nemo, who had been listening in on the Rue de la Paix, cut its delicious piles of pink brocade and silk jersey and its heaps of creamy laces exactly as Paris ordained.
New Nemo-flex Brassieres take a dip just where the V neck will be. On the hanger and on the figure to the left, you see two of them, cut low in back for evening wear, their filmy laciness giving surprising support just where curves need upholding, $3.50 and $2.00.
1920's Vintage Ladies Clothing Books - Buy Vintage Clothing and 1920's Fashion Books on Amazon
If you require further information on 1920's clothing or vintage clothes then there are some excellent books available including the ones listed below, which are available online from Amazon.
1920's Shoes for Women
Stylish and Colorful Shoes become the norm.
1920's Womens Shoes/Slippers
Due to the often muddy or dusty roads and sidewalks in the early 1900s, calf-high boots were commonly worn for protection against the elements.
Boots and shoes were typically black, brown or white, or various combinations thereof. Colors were practical and utilitarian.
As the condition of roads and footpaths improved, and cars were used for transport, then there was less necessity for boots, and so shoes became more prominent. Beautiful and stylish shoes were developed that have evolved into the modern shoe styles we are familiar with today.
In the 1920's whether due to the shrinkage in dress lengths or to the general swing toward color for all articles, both of utility and luxury, the fact remains that footwear was offered in colors and color combinations undreamed of 25 years earlier.
Shoes in blue and red and rose and pastel shades became available to match and complement any dress ensemble.
Shoes were also referred to as slippers - not to be confused with bedroom slippers. My guess is that they were referred to as slippers because they could be slipped on easily when compared to boots.
1920's Fashions for Women - More info on Clothing and Hairstyle fashions of the 1920's
Detailed information on 1920's clothes, hairstyles, underwear etc.
- The One Hour Dress of 1924
How to make the One Hour Dress of 1924. A simple method for making 1920's Dresses or a Flapper Costume.
Silk Stockings for Women
Color co-ordinated hosiery for fashion conscious women
1920's Lady's Hosiery
As hemlines rose and more female leg was visible then stockings assumed greater importance, likewise shoes.
Previously most shoes for women were limited in color to black, brown or white, or various shades and combinations thereof. The colors were practical and utilitarian.
Once clothing fashions became more colorful in the early to mid twenties then it was only a short while before shoe colors followed suit - see the shoe article on this page. The introduction of colored shoes led to colored stockings, also known as hosiery.
Silk stockings were all the rage and came in numerous patterns and colors including peach, rose, silver, beige, lemon, airedale and jack rabbit!.
To keep prices down, some stocking manufacturers sold direct from the mill to the consumer by way of a representative who made house calls.
A well co-ordinated outfit was the hallmark of fashionable women. Hats, dresses, hosiery, shoes and handbags all complemented or contrasted with each other to form the height of 1920's fashion for women.
What did the 1920's Woman wear?
An example of the average 1920's Lady's Wardrobe
Information from a 1920's book on etiquette
THE STAY AT HOME WOMAN
Along with her dresses to wear each day, it is essential that the home woman supply an outfit or two for her duties and pleasures outside the home. Among many women, there is a tendency to overlook such needs, and as a result they gradually slip away from social activities with the much-used excuse "I have nothing to wear." This should be entirely unnecessary, for the proper enjoyment of one's friends and neighbors is not necessarily dependent on a supply of new clothes, but rather on an intelligent use of what is on hand and the proper foresight in adding to the wardrobe in the future.
Such a list as the following will prove a guide that need not be followed in its entirety but that can readily be adjusted to the requirements of the home woman no matter what her circumstances.
CLOTHES FOR THE HOME WOMAN
1 winter coat
1 spring coat
1 light-weight suit
3 home dresses for morning wear
2 home dresses for afternoon wear
1 wool dress
1 silk dress
1 evening dress (not a necessity)
1 winter hat
1 spring hat
1 hat for general wear
4 to 6 sets of the preferred kind
4 wash petticoats or slips
1 silk slip
2 pairs of oxfords for home wear
1 or 2 pairs of slippers for dress
1 pair bedroom slippers
1 pair overshoes
3 pairs cotton hose
3 pairs silk-and-wool hose
3 pairs silk hose
1 pair leather or fabric gloves
1 pair kid gloves
Handkerchiefs in the required number
1 scarf of wool, silk, or fur
1 service purse
1 dress purse
1920's Jewelry Fashions
1920's Jewelry with Geometric shapes and semi-precious stones
A few expensive Tiffany jewelry trinkets from the late 1920's
Although these are expensive trinkets from Tiffany's, they illustrate perfectly the geometric shapes and designs that were common to most jewelry designs of the 1920's.
1920's Dress Lengths
Hemline movements during the 1920's
In Professor Paul H. Nystrom's "Economics of Fashion", the trend of skirt-lengths during the Post-war decade is shown by the type of graph with which business analysts delight to compute the ebb and flow of railcar-loadings or of share market prices. The graph is based on a series of measurements taken from fashion illustrations in the Delineator womens magazine; the statistician carefully measured the difference, from month to month, of the height of the skirt hem above the ground to the total height of the figure, and plotted his curve accordingly. This very unusual graph shows that in 1919 the average distance of the hem above the ground was about 10 per cent of the woman's height-or to put it another way, about six or seven inches (15-17cm). In 1920 it curved upward from 10 to about 20 per cent. During the following three years it gradually reduced to 10 per cent again, reaching its low point in 1923. In 1924, however, it rose once more to between 15 and 20 per cent, in 1925 to more than 20 per cent; and the curve continued steadily upward until by 1927 it had passed the 25 per cent mark-in other words, until the skirt had reached knee level. There it remained until late in 1929.
This skirt length graph, as Professor Nystrom explains, is not an accurate representation of what really happened, as it only represents for any given year or month, not the average length of skirts actually worn, but the length of the skirt which the arbiters of fashion, affected by the interests of manufacturers of dress goods, tried to influence women to wear. In actual fact, the dip between 1921 and 1924 was very slight. Paris designers and dressmakers predicted the return of longer skirts, the American stylists and manufacturers followed their lead, the stores bought the longer skirts and tried to sell them, but women kept on buying the shortest skirts they could find. During the fall of 1923 and the spring of 1924, manufacturers received numerous complaints from retailers that skirts needed to be shorter. Shorter they finally were, and still shorter again. Knee-length dresses proved to be exactly what women wanted. The unlucky manufacturers tried everything possible to change the fashion. Despite their best efforts however, the knee-length skirt remained standard until the 1920's decade was approaching its end.
1920's Cosmetics and Makeup
Makeup Advice for the Twenties Woman (from a period book)
Cosmetics of any kind, especially rouge, lip Sticks, and powder, if used, should be of excellent quality in order to be safe. And by excellent quality I mean the kinds that are manufactured by reputable firms and indorsed in advertisements by leading magazines.
There is danger in cheap powder because of the metallic substance used for its foundation. More expensive powders, those with rice as their base, dust off more easily than do the cheaper grades.
If you feel that the standard brands are too expensive for you, purchase toilet rice flour. It comes in packages, the same as powder, and is usually unscented, but it gives a fresh, clean appearing surface and is not injurious. It costs very little more than the cheap powders. Corn starch is very inexpensive and is clean, harmless, and delightfully refreshing.
There are several colors of face powders: white, flesh, pink, brunette, and tan. A wise use of coloring in powders is essential.
The natural color of the Anglo-Saxon is a soft, creamy color, with a noticeable flush on cheeks and lips. It should be understood that the artist in his attempts to produce flesh color uses cream color with pink. In a commercial sense, we think of pale pink as a flesh color. This is not true unless the cream tint is added.
If your skin is unusually white, use pink and tan powders, dusting the face first with the tan and then with the pink and applying the pink to any part of the face that needs building up. For instance, if the face is narrow or if the chin recedes a trifle, emphasize these parts by powdering the face with pink all the way from ear to ear or using it generously on the chin.
Tan or brunette powder is the best to use when the face has been sunburned, as it softens the appearance of the skin, removes any evidence of shininess, and does not emphasize the sunburn so much as white powder.
For the face that appears flushed, white powder is best, with an addition of pink powder to the cheeks, the tip of the chin, and the temples.
For the brunette with a creamy complexion, flesh-colored powder is preferred.
If the nose is prominent, tan powder, with white, rather than flesh, will help to make it less conspicuous.
1920's Wedding Dresses
Information on planning a 1920s Wedding
1920's themed weddings are becoming very popular with couples planning to marry who are looking for something stylish but different.
1920s wedding dresses and bridesmaid dresses were truly beautiful but the beauty is lost in black and white photographs. The true beauty can only be seen in color illustrations of the period as color photography was only in its infancy and not yet used for weddings. The pastel colored dresses were very stylish and even today they look good.
The 1920s Themed Wedding Ideas ebook contains more colored illustrations of 1920's wedding dresses than I have seen anywhere else. If you have an interest in 1920's fashion and 1920's wedding dresses in particular then you will love these rare color images.
© 2006 Robert20