Skip to main content

1920s Fashion

I love old school fashion and designs; they always look so lovely and chic.

The lovely Clara Bow.

The lovely Clara Bow.

I Love 1920s Fashion and Style

There's something about the haute couture fashions of the 1920s that really appeals to me. Changes were taking place in society at that time, with women starting to throw off much of the bondage that had kept them in the 19th century. Was it this that made the decade exciting?

The world had changed after those terrible four years of the Great War—old values were upturned, and the rigid class structure was crumbling rapidly around the edges. There was a new world sense of liberation, and the empowerment of women had begun.

This showed in the fashions of the time.

Sleek, Soft and Curvy Clothes

Evening frocks in House of Eliott.

Evening frocks in House of Eliott.

Comfy, Curvy Clothes

As the still from House of Elliot shows, clothes definitely became more comfortable to wear.

Women got out of their whalebone corsets and moved into more feminine and natural styles—styles that were sleek, soft, clinging to curves, and more aware of the body than ever before.

Low Waists, Dancing Dresses and Bobs

The straight-line chemise topped by the close-fitting cloche hat became the uniform of the day. Women "bobbed," or cut, their hair short to fit under the popular hats, a radical move in the beginning, but the standard by the end of the decade. Low-waisted dresses with fullness at the hemline allowed women to kick up their heels literally in new dances like the Charleston.

The dresses were lighter and brighter and shorter than ever before. Fashion designers played with fabric colours, textures and patterns to create totally new styles of dress. Hemlines rose for most of the decade but dropped slightly toward the end.

Sleek hairstyle worn by Josephine Baker.

Sleek hairstyle worn by Josephine Baker.

Hairstyles of the 1920s

From the mid-1920s, women changed their razor-cut bobs to a similar styled and shaped cut, but with various forms of waving from the Marcel wave to finger waving. All of these new cuts made it easier to wear the smaller closer fitting cloche. The most extreme cut was the Eton crop.

The Eton Crop

The Eton Crop appeared about 1927, and hair would often have brilliantine to increase the skull-like appearance of the hairstyle. Shiny black hair was the best form of this fashion. Josephine Baker wore this style of slick, greased hair to great effect.

In the hairdresser salon—my bob cut.

In the hairdresser salon—my bob cut.

My Bobbed Hair Style

Here I am in the hairdresser's chair.

Scroll to Continue

Read More From Bellatory

I should have managed to get a photo from the side too as this is an A-line bob. My hair is slightly longer to the front, cut in concave fashion.

I find the bob delightfully easy. I get it trimmed every 8 weeks or so and my hair never really looks any different. Wash it, run a comb through, and that's it.

My first bob was when I was six years old and a small boy seated behind me in my schoolroom, leaned over and cut off one of my plaits (yes, I still remember his name). Although my mother cried, the shorter hairstyle was much more comfortable for me.

A cloche demands the haughty look.

A cloche demands the haughty look.

The Cloche

Iconic Image of the 1920s

One of the most enduring images of the 20s is the cloche hat; it will always be associated with the era.

It was the cloche that was responsible for the haughty period stance.

To wear a cloche correctly, the hat had to be all but pulled over the eyes, making the wearer have to lift up her head, and then peer snootily down her nose.

Try it. You can't wear a cloche without looking down your nose at the rest of the world.

Cloche hats had a basic bell contour with bulbous crowns which, if correctly designed, could add inches to the height of the wearer helping to foster the haughty look, so redolent of the 1920s.

Women's Hair Breaks Free Later in the Decade

By 1928, women had tired of the sleek, oiled look and went for softer hair styles.

By the late twenties, they suddenly wanted to break free of the cloche and show their hair to the world. The point had been made. Women too could have shorn hair.

Elegant 1920s Shoe

Elegant 1920s Shoe

Glorious Shoes

Shoes and stockings assumed a greater prominence now that they were more visible. Silk stockings in all the colours of the rainbow, often with patterns, were designed to match the coordinated outfits of stylish women.

I fell in love with 1920s style after viewing the BBC series The House of Elliot.

The House of Eliott

Family secrets, scandal, thwarted love, intriguing characters, and great clothes—The House of Eliott has it all.

Stella Gonet and Louise Lombard star as Beatrice and Evangeline Eliott, two free-spirited, talented sisters whose lives come unraveled when their father dies and leaves them unexpectedly broke. Their discovery of where his money went is just the first of several betrayals that befall them as they struggle to start their own fashion business.

Yes, it's about women and clothes, but The House of Eliott is much more than a chick flick. Bea and Evie's determination to make it on their own terms reflects every artist's struggle, and the fact that they are women trying to start a business in 1920s England adds another layer to that challenge.

Cut a Rug With Me!

Carrying a torch for the '20s? I certainly am, and the soft, looser styles definitely suit a lady of my years (and my thickened waistline).

Cut a caper, cut a rug, drape yourself in some feminine frocks from the era.

No wooden nickels here!

How about you?

© 2009 Susanna Duffy

Leave a fashionable note - In any style you choose

Anita on April 03, 2018:

I wish I could go live in the 20's and meet Rudolph Valentino! Ha!

AlleyCatLane on October 23, 2013:

I wouldn't know how to live without my jeans, but these fashions would be fun for dressy occasions.

Pat Goltz on October 16, 2013:

I like the dresses and some of the hair styles. The stringy look that came along later is really ugly. Forget the shoes. Uncomfortable, and not good for the body. Very informative. Thank you.

Rhonda Albom from New Zealand on October 07, 2013:

1920's fashion is really fun, although not for my body style, so I am glad I didn't have to wear most of it. Have you ever seen the movie: "Thoroughly Modern Millie" it's an old Mary Tyler Moore movie that I think you would like.

mariacarbonara on August 05, 2013:

The 20s was really the start of many of the modern styles that we have today so they were ahead of their time. If only hats would come back into style!

adammuller003 lm on June 15, 2013:

The hats, the hats!

(I like the hats.)

LadyDuck on May 22, 2013:

I love the roaring twenties fashion, I would like to wear those beautiful dresses even now

JerryWojo on February 10, 2013:

Love the 20's. The styles, the music what a time to live!

chickie99 on February 02, 2013:

the swinging 20's & 30's should never be forgotten!

priscillab on December 10, 2012:

Nice to find someone else who shares my love of 20s clothing. It was an interesting era for fashion. Well done!

MyBabyBoo on December 01, 2012:

Interesting lens, nicely done!

oomiloo-clothing on November 22, 2012:

Classic pic old is gold

anonymous on November 11, 2012:

I love the 1920s! I paint 1920s lady's I think they look so elegant! :)

Delia on September 23, 2012:

Fashion always makes a full circle...I recognize so many things from the past that are intertwined with other fashion trends, just look at the shoes, they are a combination of wedge 40's and 20's strapping's.

In Paris I saw so many combinations and styles, you would think everyone was a fashion designer....interesting indeed!

~d-artist Squid Angel Blessing~

SpenceG on September 10, 2012:

Great. 20s fashion has a definite statement in them.

Annbulance2000 on August 31, 2012:

Nice lense love the old b&w photos. My nana was the first one in her village to get her hair bobbed as it was known. Because of that she got nicknamed Bobby. Love the fashion from back then.

kawasts on August 26, 2012:

yeah, this is great lens and make me remember about all my fashion past

Carole James on August 15, 2012:

Amazing, I would love to still dress like this. All the woman look so classy.

DonnaMarie2 on July 30, 2012:

I really loved this Lens. Makes me feel nostalgic a bit.

My Grandmother, and Great Aunts were Flappers in the era. I love to look over the the old, yellowed black and white photos and I feel as if I was back there with them, even today. What an exciting and fun era!

Kristen from Wisconsin on July 19, 2012:

I love the Flapper style! The dancing from the 20's always has fascinated me along with this clothes.

rawwwwwws lm on July 04, 2012:

The roaring 20's!

VeseliDan on May 25, 2012:

I would love to wear clothes from back then.

Little Linda Pinda from Florida on May 24, 2012:

These are beautiful fashions. I love the shoes too. Really nice lens.

jolou on April 22, 2012:

I watched House of Elliott when it was on A & E several years ago. It was a good series.

anonymous on April 08, 2012:

Thanks so much for this compilation! It has helped in my research for 1920's head wear, as I am making hats

ephemerania lm on March 27, 2012:

Gorgeous fashions !

cathywoodosborn on March 18, 2012:

Love, love, love the clothes of this era. It so reminds me of photos of my grandma.

anonymous on March 17, 2012:

it was a beautiful fashion then.

helpmeetingneeds on March 13, 2012:

These fashion has made its cycle all the way around to today.

Paul Goodman from Florida, USA on March 08, 2012:

The 1920s are my favorite decade of all time! :-)

Ann from Yorkshire, England on March 04, 2012:

I love the Roaring 20s style, thanks for sharing this

Ann from Yorkshire, England on March 04, 2012:

I love the Roaring 20s style, thanks for sharing this

Aquavel on March 01, 2012:

The Roaring 20's had the greatest fashions ever! Stylish, sexy, upbeat and fun! Some of these styles have stayed or been resurrected through the years. Lovely and fun lens! Great lens and great looking Bob!

surpriseitsme on February 19, 2012:

I LOVE your Style!!! (pinned your lens) I think you need to add another answer to your poll, "Do you dress like this today?" I DO. I'm am a retro girl through and through! Thank you for a great lens, I must bookmark it! ;)

Deadicated LM on December 26, 2011:

I recently went to a 1920's picnic on Governors Island NYC; it was totally awesome, I think they do it every year.

TrentAdamsCA on December 18, 2011:

What a fun romp through the 20s -- I especially enjoyed your insights on the cloche hat and the bob. This era makes me think of Hollywood's "Thoroughly Modern Millie" with Julie Andrews -- cut your cares and curls away. dThe drop-waist beaded dresses were works of art.

TrentAdamsCA on December 18, 2011:

What a fun romp through the 20s -- I especially enjoyed your insights on the cloche hat and the bob. This era makes me think of Hollywood's "Thoroughly Modern Millie" with Julie Andrews -- cut your cares and curls away. dThe drop-waist beaded dresses were works of art.

Tjoedhilde on December 14, 2011:

I love the 1920's fashion as well, playful yet stylish. Oh and I didn't know that the hat was called a Cloche so I learned something from reading through here as well. Thank you! :)

Heather Bradford from Canada on December 13, 2011:

Modern fashion sends me cold but the 1920's and even older is fascinating. If I took up study again it would most likely be something based around historical clothing. I found your lens hugely enjoyable!

Silencespeaks on November 25, 2011:

Old is gold .....

Paul from Liverpool, England on November 24, 2011:

I'm fairly immune to women's fashion, of any era, but I like a very well made lens and a friend has assured me the content is spot on - Angel Blessed.

Mona from Iowa on November 13, 2011:

I've always loved the look of the roaring 20's. I had a flapper dress for several years when I was younger that I had a hard time parting with. But I gained wright and the style really flatters the thin frame. :) It's just a great look.

littlemisstweediebird on October 24, 2011:

Sometimes I wish i was born in the 1920s. What a beautiful time! The women were so elegant!

wheresthekarma on October 11, 2011:

Love the 20's style, love this lens!

DianaPrice LM on September 21, 2011:

I know 50s pinup is all the rage right now, but I'm more of a 20s, 30s 40s gal myself. Great lens!

Lisa Auch from Scotland on August 29, 2011:

I loved this page the first time I was here, so I had already liked it etc. however as a passign Angel i can now sprinkle a little dusting on here! fabulous fashion page! and oh so chic here and now!

sidther lm on August 29, 2011:

This is great! I love the fashions of the 1920's they look so much classier than anything I see today and I love the make up as well.

straw-hut on August 19, 2011:

What a fun and informative read. I especially found the cloche hat section interesting.

LizRobertson on August 19, 2011:

great pix!

avgsuperheroine on July 16, 2011:

This former costume designer LOVES this lens. Gorgeous shoes, by the way. I do love the twenties!

AsianMarketplace on July 09, 2011:

very interesting to see how fashion change over the years

Ilona E from Ohio on June 28, 2011:

Love the lens, there is something so engaging about those styles- but I think they look best on a twenty something woman ;)

anonymous on June 21, 2011:

In my prior life, I must have lived in the 20s because I love everything about the 20s - music, clothes, home decor, furniture. Thanks for this great lens!

Vicki from USA on June 14, 2011:

I love 1920's fashion, and I really enjoyed this lens! I wish I could give it a lens roll to my Retro Loco lens, but lens rolls are now a thing of the past. Thumbs up!

CarynJSwift56889 on June 12, 2011:

I must say, that the fashion is always return~

JublyJem on June 07, 2011:

great lens. I went to a 1920s fancy dress party 2 weeks ago. wish i had found your lens before i went!

grannysage on June 04, 2011:

Button, button whose got the button? The Google button that is. Oh, there it is. Cool, I clicked it. Nothing exploded so I guess it worked okay. Did Vlad take that picture of the back of your head? He is a pretty good photographer. I'm not a 20's fan myself, but history is always interesting.

Julia M S Pearce from Melbourne, Australia on June 03, 2011:

Really beautiful era!Great page!

Joan4 on June 03, 2011:

I agree with Michey's comment, so I won't repeat it all here. but it does seem that the 20's were another of those magical times in history, doesn't it?

melgame on June 03, 2011:

I love everything about vintage 1920's fashion. Great page!

Recession Proof2 on May 24, 2011:

Great lens. As always, thanks.

Michey LM on May 21, 2011:

This is a very good documentary of 1920s fashion, which I love.

Actually I like the spirit, the arts, the life of 1920's, it was an era of good life, many innovations, gutsy architecture and a gold era of Hollywood. The fashion reflect very well this historic era.

Thanks for this lens.

Maurice Glaude from Mobile on May 20, 2011:

Enjoyed this thoroughly.

rravi123 on May 13, 2011:

susannaduffy how old are you. you are talking about 1920 fashions

BlogsWriter on May 05, 2011:

Love the 1920s fashions and trends, especially the cap and the attire.

LouisaDembul on May 04, 2011:

I love the shoes! Not to mention the hats....

BestRatedStuff on April 07, 2011:

Great lens. I so love the the 20's styles. Enjoyed it.

CruiseReady from East Central Florida on April 05, 2011:

Lovely lens. I could hapily wear those dresses today!

anonymous on April 03, 2011:

the 1920s had beautiful style, nice lens Susanna

Philippians468 on March 29, 2011:

gotta love the hat! thank you for this back into the future lens! cheers

Wednesday-Elf from Savannah, Georgia on February 28, 2011:

Hi Susanna -- dropping back by to let you know I 'finally' compiled my SquidAngel Lens from my 'angel flight' last Fall. :-) So.... returning to tell you that this lens has now been 'featured on' and 'lensrolled to' "SquidAngel Blessings by an Elf".

PizmoBeach LM on February 12, 2011:

I really enjoyed your lens. I am a real fan of the fashion of that era.

justholidays on February 02, 2011:

I'm desperately nostalgic for those things from the past, therefore, I just love the 1920's fashion, of course!

BTW I saw pics of you from the hippie's times and think that you were gorgeous in these clothes as well.

hayleylou lm on January 12, 2011:

Loved my visit here and a peak at 1920's fashion :)

SandyPeaks on January 11, 2011:

Love the style - my Grandmother wore a cloche hat in the 20s!

TeacherSerenia on January 07, 2011:

I love the 1920s flapper dresses, the music and the swinging attitude. It was a gay old time.

Blonde Blythe from U.S.A. on January 01, 2011:

The 1920s is my favorite era--love the style, and the attitude! :)

sorana lm on December 23, 2010:

Great lens. The style is fantastic although the hairstyle ... let's put it in a nice way: I'm not a fan of it.

Lisa-Marie-Mary on December 22, 2010:

I've been a fan of this time period for a long time! Fabulous lens!!!

nebby from USA on December 17, 2010:

Every era has great fashions and reflect the economy and the mood of the times. The 20's were so sexy, yet also on the other end very demure. Congratulations on making the list of The Best Squidoo Intros Ever!

Nancy Tate Hellams from Pendleton, SC on December 17, 2010:

These 1920's FAshions are so neat but I am glad that I came along during the blue jean/tshirt times. Congrats on making The Best Squidoo Intros Ever list. Well deserved.

outsource123 on December 09, 2010:

Cheers, that lense was pure awesome.

anonymous on December 01, 2010:

in old days fashion was something special, nowdays people are tired of this new age fashion

Susanna Duffy (author) from Melbourne Australia on November 28, 2010:

@anonymous: Yep, that;s the back of my head :)

anonymous on November 28, 2010:

You sure have a gift for putting words together. Fun, fascinating, interesting and beautifully done! Is that really the back of your head? I can't quite recognize you from a back view. A classic, easy care hairdo for sure.

Gera LM on November 24, 2010:

'20s are neat.

RebekahRaker on November 23, 2010:

I love this lens! This look also fascinates me as it was so classy and elegant. I love all the fashion from this era.

Vikki from US on November 18, 2010:

I love the 20's style !

AmbrosiaPopsicle on November 13, 2010:

So stylish, and classy. Wonderful era :)

MargoPArrowsmith on November 13, 2010:

Very interesting. Especially the explanation about the hat. I never thought about it, but it makes sense. I'll have to get one! lol

irenemaria from Sweden on November 13, 2010:

My mom was married 1927 in a wedding dress I wish I could show you! And on the head she had flowers made of some hard material (before plastic)

isabella lm on November 12, 2010:

amazing lens!

Wednesday-Elf from Savannah, Georgia on November 12, 2010:

I love the cloche hat. Anything that could add inches to the height of the wearer is OK by short little me! :) The 1920s were a time of 'daring-to-be-more' for women, perhaps one might say the beginnings of what would become the feminist era. It definitely showed in the fashions and hairstyles. Nicely done. ~~Blessed by a SquidAngel~~

anonymous on November 12, 2010:

Absolutely, absolutely love everything about this! Fabulous! - Kathy

Tonie Cook from USA on November 12, 2010:

One of my favorite eras of fashion. Elegant, timeless designs.

SofiaMann on November 12, 2010:

You have a cute selection. Very nice.

Lisa Auch from Scotland on November 04, 2010:

You know I just loved this, and I promised i would come back as I wished I could have Blessed it, I believe your lenses to be among some of the best around, and hope others find them as inspiring as I do. Honoured to Bless this lens....

anonymous on October 31, 2010:

The fashion of old is so classy, sexy & feminine. Even with the short hair, they looked so coiffed and put-together. I would so wear this stuff. Too bad the less-feminine styles (sorry) from the 70's and 80's come back in fashion but not the glamour years - like the 20's & 40's. Those ladies looked divine. Real classic beauty. I enjoyed reading this lens.

anonymous on October 27, 2010:

The fashion was pretty cool, but those short hair styles on the women, every women, Yikes. Nice lens.

desilegend on October 27, 2010:

Love this fashion (to watch) but would not wear myself.

Related Articles