1920s Fashion

Updated on December 14, 2014
The lovely Clara Bow
The lovely Clara Bow | Source

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 altered 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 Elliot
Evening Frocks in House of Elliot | Source

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 which 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 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 | Source

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 hair style. Shiny black hair was the best form of this fashion. Josephine Baker wore this style of slick, greased hair to great effect.

My 1920s Bob - The Bob Cut has never gone away

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.

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 cut 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 | Source

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.

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.

Hats from the 1920s

Fashion modelled by Hollywood actresses of the time. Some gorgeous stuff!

1929 Fashion Show

A short film from a 1929 fashion show in the famous Great Cumberland Place in London

Fashions of the 1920s

Click thumbnail to view full-size
192019261926Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford in the early 1920sElisabeth Gabriele of Bavaria, Queen of Belgium, 1920
Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford in the early 1920s
Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford in the early 1920s
Elisabeth Gabriele of Bavaria, Queen of Belgium, 1920
Elisabeth Gabriele of Bavaria, Queen of Belgium, 1920

Glorious Shoes

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.

To see some glorious shoes from the 1920s, indulge yourself browsing these Photographs of 20s vintage shoes.

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

The House of Eliott - Complete Collection
The House of Eliott - Complete Collection

The House of Eliott is the journey that the Eliot sisters make to come into their own. A journey full of flair, drama and intrigue

Beatrice and Evangeline are dedicated and determined to make their way on their own terms. They overcome the obstacles and the people who threaten their dream.

The Eliot sisters dream of, strive towards, and finally accomplish their ultimate goal: a successful fashion house.


House of Eliott, the series

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.

How about you?

What do you think of 1920s Fashions?

See results

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!

© 2009 Susanna Duffy

Leave a fashionable note - In any style you choose

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    • profile image

      AlleyCatLane 4 years ago

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

    • Pat Goltz profile image

      Pat Goltz 4 years ago

      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.

    • RhondaAlbom profile image

      Rhonda Albom 4 years ago from New Zealand

      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 profile image

      mariacarbonara 4 years ago

      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 profile image

      adammuller003 lm 4 years ago

      The hats, the hats!

      (I like the hats.)

    • profile image

      LadyDuck 4 years ago

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

    • JerryWojo profile image

      JerryWojo 5 years ago

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

    • profile image

      chickie99 5 years ago

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

    • priscillab profile image

      priscillab 5 years ago

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

    • profile image

      MyBabyBoo 5 years ago

      Interesting lens, nicely done!

    • oomiloo-clothing profile image

      oomiloo-clothing 5 years ago

      Classic pic old is gold

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

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

    • delia-delia profile image

      Delia 5 years ago

      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 profile image

      SpenceG 5 years ago

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

    • Annbulance2000 profile image

      Annbulance2000 5 years ago

      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.

    • profile image

      kawasts 5 years ago

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

    • poshbytori lm profile image

      poshbytori lm 5 years ago

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

    • profile image

      DonnaMarie2 5 years ago

      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!

    • kristalulabelle profile image

      Kristen 5 years ago from Wisconsin

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

    • rawwwwwws lm profile image

      rawwwwwws lm 5 years ago

      The roaring 20's!

    • VeseliDan profile image

      VeseliDan 5 years ago

      I would love to wear clothes from back then.

    • LittleLindaPinda profile image

      Little Linda Pinda 5 years ago from Florida

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

    • jolou profile image

      jolou 5 years ago

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

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

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

    • ephemerania lm profile image

      ephemerania lm 5 years ago

      Gorgeous fashions !

    • cathywoodosborn profile image

      cathywoodosborn 5 years ago

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

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      it was a beautiful fashion then.

    • profile image

      helpmeetingneeds 5 years ago

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

    • SuperBrainwave LM profile image

      Paul Goodman 5 years ago from Florida, USA

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

    • annieangel1 profile image

      Ann 5 years ago from Yorkshire, England

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

    • annieangel1 profile image

      Ann 5 years ago from Yorkshire, England

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

    • Aquavel profile image

      Aquavel 5 years ago

      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 profile image

      surpriseitsme 6 years ago

      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 profile image

      Deadicated LM 6 years ago

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

    • TrentAdamsCA profile image

      TrentAdamsCA 6 years ago

      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 profile image

      TrentAdamsCA 6 years ago

      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.

    • Mistl profile image

      Mistl 6 years ago

      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! :)

    • canoz profile image

      Heather Bradford 6 years ago from Canada

      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!

    • profile image

      Silencespeaks 6 years ago

      Old is gold .....

    • Paul Ward profile image

      Paul 6 years ago from Liverpool, England

      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.

    • WildFacesGallery profile image

      Mona 6 years ago from Iowa

      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.

    • profile image

      littlemisstweediebird 6 years ago

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

    • wheresthekarma profile image

      wheresthekarma 6 years ago

      Love the 20's style, love this lens!

    • DianaPrice LM profile image

      DianaPrice LM 6 years ago

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

    • LisaAuch1 profile image

      Lisa Auch 6 years ago from Scotland

      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 profile image

      sidther lm 6 years ago

      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 profile image

      straw-hut 6 years ago

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

    • LizRobertson profile image

      LizRobertson 6 years ago

      great pix!

    • avgsuperheroine profile image

      avgsuperheroine 6 years ago

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

    • AsianMarketplace profile image

      AsianMarketplace 6 years ago

      very interesting to see how fashion change over the years

    • Ilonagarden profile image

      Ilona E 6 years ago from Ohio

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

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      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!

    • Retro Loco profile image

      Vicki 6 years ago from USA

      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 profile image

      CarynJSwift56889 6 years ago

      I must say, that the fashion is always return~

    • JublyJem profile image

      JublyJem 6 years ago

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

    • profile image

      grannysage 6 years ago

      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.

    • jmsp206 profile image

      Julia M S Pearce 6 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

      Really beautiful era!Great page!

    • profile image

      Joan4 6 years ago

      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?

    • profile image

      melgame 6 years ago

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

    • Recession Proof2 profile image

      Recession Proof2 6 years ago

      Great lens. As always, thanks.

    • Michey LM profile image

      Michey LM 6 years ago

      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.

    • newbizmau profile image

      Maurice Glaude 6 years ago from Mobile, AL

      Enjoyed this thoroughly.

    • rravi123 profile image

      rravi123 6 years ago

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

    • BlogsWriter profile image

      BlogsWriter 6 years ago

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

    • LouisaDembul profile image

      LouisaDembul 6 years ago

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

    • BestRatedStuff profile image

      BestRatedStuff 6 years ago

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

    • CruiseReady profile image

      CruiseReady 6 years ago from East Central Florida

      Lovely lens. I could hapily wear those dresses today!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      the 1920s had beautiful style, nice lens Susanna

    • Philippians468 profile image

      Philippians468 6 years ago

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

    • Wednesday-Elf profile image

      Wednesday-Elf 6 years ago from Savannah, Georgia

      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 profile image

      PizmoBeach LM 7 years ago

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

    • justholidays profile image

      justholidays 7 years ago

      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 profile image

      hayleylou lm 7 years ago

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

    • profile image

      SandyPeaks 7 years ago

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

    • TeacherSerenia profile image

      TeacherSerenia 7 years ago

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

    • Blonde Blythe profile image

      Blonde Blythe 7 years ago from U.S.A.

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

    • sorana lm profile image

      sorana lm 7 years ago

      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 profile image

      Lisa-Marie-Mary 7 years ago

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

    • nebby profile image

      nebby 7 years ago from USA

      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!

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 7 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      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.

    • profile image

      outsource123 7 years ago

      Cheers, that lense was pure awesome.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

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

    • SusannaDuffy profile image

      Susanna Duffy 7 years ago from Melbourne Australia

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

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      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 profile image

      Gera LM 7 years ago

      '20s are neat.

    • profile image

      RebekahRaker 7 years ago

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

    • choosehappy profile image

      Vikki 7 years ago from US

      I love the 20's style !

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      AmbrosiaPopsicle 7 years ago

      So stylish, and classy. Wonderful era :)

    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image

      MargoPArrowsmith 7 years ago

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

    • mariaamoroso profile image

      irenemaria 7 years ago from Sweden

      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 profile image

      isabella lm 7 years ago

      amazing lens!

    • Wednesday-Elf profile image

      Wednesday-Elf 7 years ago from Savannah, Georgia

      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~~

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

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

    • Charlino99 profile image

      Tonie Cook 7 years ago from USA

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

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      SofiaMann 7 years ago

      You have a cute selection. Very nice.

    • LisaAuch1 profile image

      Lisa Auch 7 years ago from Scotland

      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....

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      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.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

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

    • desilegend profile image

      desilegend 7 years ago

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

    • CrossCreations profile image

      Carolan Ross 7 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      These styles are such classics, a top-notch tribute to 1920's fashion. Well-done!