30s Women

Coming between two world wars and the stock market crash of 1929, the thirties was a tough time. Clothes had to become more affordable and made with cheaper fabrics.

Sky Atlantic’s new imported drama Mildred Peirce starring Kate Winslet, is set in Depression-era California, following a single mother’s journey to support her family and gain the respect of her daughter. The show combines the glamour and hardship of the 1930s in its costumes, represented by it’s upper-class and working class characters.

Designers began to focus on the female form rather than embellishment, and clothes were cut to follow the lines of the body, showing off the female figure in a more provocative way than ever before.

Young women idolised the Hollywood superstars that graced the silver screen, and dreamed of wearing the halter-neck and backless designer dresses they wore on screen. Instead they compensated with costume jewellery and accessories to add an air of glamour to their outfits, at a cheaper price.

Perhaps the most iconic films of the decade starred Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire in their many dance-based films. They projected an air of glamour and high life, that many could only dream of during the depression. Citizens flocked to the cinema to for the escapism they provided.

Fur became popular among women and was worn day and night, becoming popular luxury items, using pelts of ermine, fox, mink and chinchilla for coats, capes and wraps.

As women lead busier and more productive lives, daywear reflected this, and clothes became less restrictive. Designers embraced the hourglass silhouette, and returned waistlines to the natural waist, sometimes higher.

Detailed blouses became popular, with scalloped edges and ruffled collars, but the real success story was the pussy-bow neckline, which added an air of elegance to more practical daywear.

Coco Chanel believed that comfort was key to her designs, and the wool jersey suit became one of her most famous innovations, still iconic today. She wanted to free women for corsets and introduce them to a freer, more casual elegance.

But with the end of the 1930s, came the start of the Second World War and with that came change…

Suits: Hour glass and pear shape figures

Good for: Fur, detailed blouses, wool jersey suits, backless gowns

Invest in: A fur jacket

Who wears it well: Kate Winslet, Gwen Stefani, Amy Adams, Rachel Evan Wood



1920s Flappers

With the post-war booming twenties, came the age of the flapper. Hemlines rose to a scandalous four to five inches above the ankle and waistlines dropped to the hip. The twenties has become a popular decade for vintage inspiration once again, with Sky Atlantic’s Boardwalk Empire. The American drama follows Atlantic City in New Jersey during the age of prohibition, where illegal alcohol smuggling and organised crime was rife.

The flapper look is seen frequently during the show in the women’s costumes. This look that we associate with the 1920s, was about achieving a boyish shape. Women taped down their breasts to get rid of unwanted curves and the desired silhouette was straight up and down. For the first time, women dieted to fit fashion.

In Vintage Fashion: collecting and wearing designer classics, Emma Baxter-Wright says “The short shift dress, which fell straight down from the shoulders and stopped above the knees, dominated the mid-to late 1920s. Ornamented with geometric and abstract designers, the chemise was often beaded with bands of glittering sequins.”

Flapper dresses were straight, loose and sleeveless, with bare arms, legs and backs. This new daring style, created an illusion of nudity and represented the reckless nature of the flappers. With flappers came swing dancing, specifically the Charleston, that took social dances by storm and has enjoyed a boom of recent popularity. At home, the flappers would wear trousers in the early evening or at the beach. They were loosely cut with drawstring or elasticated waists.

The new androgynous look became the height of style, and women cut their hair short and embraced the waif look. Glamour played a key part women’s lives, but this was set to explode as movie stars captured the imagination of the 30s woman…

Suits: Tall boyish figures, slim hips,

Good for: Embellishment, shawls, shift dresses, headwear.

Invest in: An embellished flapper dress.

Who wears it well: Kate Moss, Angelina Jolie, Katie Holmes, Taylor Swift

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