“Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.”
- Coco Chanel
Fashion in the ‘20s was the perfect blend between style and function. It reflected the rapid change and growth in society. Old-fashioned torture clothing like corsets did not serve a purpose for young women who wanted to go dancing, go to work and walk around town. The hemlines and waistlines of women dresses were reducing while their hairstyles were getting shorter and the classic mens suits were setting the gold standard in mens fashion. Society was evolving and so was the fashion industry.
The ‘Roaring Twenties’ was a time of prosperity and elegance for many. Wearing extravagant clothing depicted wealth. There was a significant divide between day dresses and evening dresses. Day dresses in the 1920s were shapeless, not highlighting a woman’s curves and hung loose instead. Floral prints were the rage in women’s clothing and soft pastel colors like “Nile Green”, “Sunset Orange”, “French Blue” and “Maze” were the most popular at the time. The evening dresses, on the other hand reflected the fact that people had money. The materials, beads and accessories were all elegant and expensive. Cloche hats and flapper dresses made waves in the big cities. Made of velvet, satin, horsehair, straw or felt, the cloche hid a woman’s hair and allowed her to tuck it up into the hat. The flapper rejected the repressed Victorian way and became a new-found byproduct of a changing world, with many social elements merging together.
The 1920s saw the rise of various designers, the biggest of them being Coco Chanel. Her designs revolved around the ‘modern woman’, catering to their desires and needs. There were other big names that got their start in the ‘20s. Jeanne Lanvin invented the robe de style made of velvet and silk. Jean Patou, Madeleine Vionnet, Mariano Fortuny, Jacques Doucet, Lucien Lelong, Mme. Premet all designed some of the most beautiful evening gowns and dresses and became popular in the ‘20s. This was also the period when art deco fashions became a big deal with sharp angular lines and bright colors.
Mens suits and business-wear came into vogue in the ‘20s as thousands of young people were following “The American Dream” and moved to big cities like New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco. The ready-to-wear clothing was booming, bringing the popular styles of modern mens suits to the major cities. In the early part of the 1920s, the “conservative suit” was the most popular. It had a thin silhouette marked by its tightly fitted jacket, high “pinched” waist and narrow shoulders. In about 1924, the style of mens suits shifted away from the thin cut and pinched waist look to what was then known as the “Jazz suit” and formal menswear was defined as a tuxedo with the jacket (with tails), vest, and pants all made from different types of materials. Fine suit makers like Brooks Brothers became the leader in American mens fashion in the 1920s. The classic suits from the ‘20s are timeless creations and are worn till today.
1920s fashion celebrated the time in which it was created. It was elegant, classy and enjoyable. Classic and timeless ensembles from the era keep making comebacks even today.