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Fashion in the 1920s

Written By: Marah Minor

As we start 2020 off, we are bombarded with upcoming trends of the year which will include puffy sleeves, utility jumpsuits, leather all year (dresses, jackets, pants), unusual trench coats and more! Trends over the years come and go with time, known as the pendulum swing of fashion, which is when fashion swings from one extreme to another, reaching its full form and then moves back toward an opposite trend. That’s why we see similarities and repeats of fashion trends over the years. Let’s take a leap back 100 years ago to see what people were wearing in the roaring 20s and if it is comparable to today.

1) Corsets were still worn in the 1920s as shapewear but were on the decline as brassieres took hold. Being flat-chested was the ideal for women even though the first brassiere was born right before in 1914, made of two hankies and a ribbon. Today, we still see shapewear such as Spanx and Kim Kardashian-West’s new collection SKIMS. Corsets are not popular for every day, however, the trend as lingerie as outerwear for evening events started to take hold in 2018/2019, but seems to be slowly dying for this upcoming year.

2) In the mid to late 1920s, Chanel helped to create the androgynous silhouette. Instead of women dressing hyper-feminine, they started to wear items that were straighter, less hugging of the body, and thus hid the waist. After this, casual sportswear became popular, which prioritized comfort and a relaxed fit. Tennis uniforms and golfing outfits were some looks that encompassed this sporting attire. Today, athleisure is a very popular trend since the birth of Canadian company Lululemon. Comfortable clothing is a key factor when consumers are looking for pieces. Also, androgynous wear is extremely popular among young adults as conforming to stereotypes of masculine or feminine dress has faded.

3) An item that constantly changed itself during the roaring 20s was the skirt. The skirt length often varied between up at the knees to down at the ankles. Again, the fit was less structured and hung loosely. Today, skirts that hit about mid-calf are a huge trend. This versatile piece has been all the hype this past while as it can be worn casually or more dressed up, with a tied up sweater or simple t-shirt, with either boots or sneakers depending on the look.

4) Hats may have been the biggest trend of the 1920s. Summer hats included woven, straw and cotton, where winters hats were usually felt or cloche, which meant “bell” as it was shaped with a smaller brim and a rounded crown. Currently, there are no huge hat trends that have sparked attention in the fashion world.

If this information interests you, I highly recommend taking Women’s Studies 2164: Gender and Fashion. This is where I got most of my historical fashion knowledge!

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