For nearly one hundred years, 1920s fashion has been known as one of the most glamorous and innovative periods in modern fashion history. The great thing about 1920s fashion is that it is very unique and relatively easy to identify.
Women’s fashion in the 1920s is distinguished by a long, straight silhouette. Slender was the “in” look — curves were not accentuated at all. Small hats were in high demand, as were thin, white gloves. Coats had fur and shoes generally had heels.
Brooches and pearl necklaces were common accessories for the modern woman. Purses were not common, as most women carried their money in billfolds. Wool knickers with two-button adjustable knee bands were popular in the summer and fall seasons.
In most fashions, the waistline was generally low set, making the torso appear longer and more slender. The hemline wandered gleefully up and down throughout the decade.
If you’re looking for more detail on women’s fashion in the 1920s, you’ve come to right place. Let’s look at some very important wardrobe items a little more closely.
Simply put, the winter coat was a vital part of every woman’s wardrobe. The most common type of winter coat stopped just below the knee and was made of wool velour. Fur was incredibly popular, and it came in just about every mammal you can imagine. Seal was an especially sought after fur, but mandel and beaverette was popular. If her coat didn’t have a fur collar and cuffs, she could buy separate fur shawl collars and cuffs. This was good because she could mix and match fur colors and styles.
Big, round buttons were not just for keeping coats fastened, they also were sewn on the sides, back and anywhere else that would look nice. Imitation fabrics like Kerami Crushed Silk Plush looked very much like brown caracul. Some coats weren’t just fur lined, but completely covered in fur.
Frocks made of rayon and cotton proved quite practical, were garnished with embroidery on the collar and on the front of the blouse. Silk ribbon would bind the Peter Pan collar and cuffs.
There were dozens of different styles of frocks, some were made of flannel or silk, others had bows, some had pockets, some had belts, or all of the above. They also came in just about every color you could imagine. Plaid was a popular choice.
1920s dresses, with their silhouette classy and straight, were simply iconic. Some had a neat tailored collar trimmed with a contrasting band of velveteen gave the dress a business-like feel, but the metallic thread embroidery on the front gave it a richer appearance for any occasion.
The tailored pencil stripe all wool French Serge was smartly made in every detail. With a velvet turn-down collar finished with a bias band, the new style sleeve had an opening just above the wrist. Deep pleats were located on each side of the front panel. Occasionally the collar would be turned up in the back, especially if she had short hair.
All types of decor adorned dresses in the 1920s. Tiny buttons, jeweled pins, silk military braids and buckles were just a few of the many different types of embellishments designers had to work with.
As mentioned before, the hemline moved up and down, but the most common hemline ended at the top of the calf — the knee was fully covered. Also, some belts were wide and tied in the front, some were thin and tied in the back. For either style, the belt tied slightly below the hips.
Kimonos, Robes and Morning Dresses
Women in the 1920s loved to wear something comfortable at home. Useful year round and easily laundered, the Japanese style kimono was the sensible choice. Made of Serpentine Crepe, it did not need ironing. Made with wide mandarin sleeves and surplice collars, these popular robes came in a wide a variety of colors including pagodas and cherry blossoms.
The morning dress usually had a plainer look and was made of sturdier fabric. It typically had a flower print or was just a solid color. Because of when the morning dress was worn, it was often seen with an apron.
Instead of purses, most women in the 1920s carried light. If they took anything at all, it was a small “bag,” about twice the size of a wallet. These bags were not an afterthought, however. The bag was a very important accessory and came in a wide variety of shapes and sizes.
Most bags were made of leather, but some were styled like snakeskin or had ostrich grain. Black patent leather was also a common style of bag. Some fastened at the top like coin purses and others snapped at the bottom.
Hats were an absolutely vital part of 1920s fashion. They came in every shape and size, but we will deal with the most common types here.
The close-fitting hat is a 1920s icon. They were worn by women from all walks of life, though generally the more decor, the more expensive. The close-fitting hat was perfect for riding in cars, which was a somewhat new phenomenon. Hats often had one or several silk flowers on them. Bows, buttons and ribbons were common, and feathers were too.
Not all hats were small. Many had wide brims, some went all the way around and others stopped midway around the back. The under-brim was embroidered and just as beautiful as the top of the hat.
Something that was considered a fashion necessity that isn’t so popular now is the reducer AKA the corset. Garter braissieres, made of rayon mixed brocade, were a leading feature of modern corsetting. They provided “corrective abdominal support” and restraint under an outer sheath. The abdominal belt had a seamless elastic front with a brocade-covered boning and two garters. The side front were so arranged that the pull of the elastic would suppress fleshiness.
Others would come with woven wire that were flexible enough to be tolerated, but rigid enough to keep their shape. Obviously, these were not very comfortable.