1920s Fashion

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?

  • Lovely. I would wear clothes like this now
  • OK. Some of the styles are everlasting
  • Yuk. Give me the 21st century anytime
See results without voting

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 127 comments

AlleyCatLane 3 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 3 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

RhondaAlbom 3 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 3 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 3 years ago

The hats, the hats!

(I like the hats.)

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