Fashion History - Ladies' Fashion Designs of the 1930s
Historic Fashion - The Sleek Silhouette of the Early 1930s
Historical and Cultural Influence on Fashion of the 1930s
Here are the historic fashion design trends of 1932. The pictures of these vintage dress styles were offered to the readers of the Ladies Home Journal in May of 1932. Most of the fashions illustrated were for dress patterns as many women of the Great Depression made their own clothing.
The world was deep into the grip of the Great Depression. It was a terrible time with a 25% unemployment rate. People who did work often had their hours and pay reduced. Others worked harder for less pay. Tent cities and shanty towns grew in areas around the country where refugees looked for work. Nearly half the banks in the United States failed, and withdrawals even at safe banks were often restricted due to the fear of bank runs.
Fashion design moved toward simpler lines to reflect the simpler lives of the public. However, there was a great interest in the glamor of the wealthy as well as in the glamor portrayed by Hollywood. People dreamed of the luxurious past, but lived with a new economic severity.
The magazine displayed the types of clothing that regular middle class women appreciated. Just like the middle class magazines of later years, LHJ portrayed the kinds of fashion designs that most women might actually wear or hope to wear—not the expensive, out of reach costumes of the more stylish magazines.
Over the top outfits of the Roaring '20s were in mothballs. Fun, Bohemian-inspired clothing trends and extravagant clothing designs went out with the Stock Market Crash. The party was over. Yet the fashions of the 1930s were attractive and feminine and quite beautiful.
Women's fashion design had taken a turn toward cleaner, simpler lines that reflected the new austerity of a bad economy. Notice the limited color featured in the pictures. Magazine ads of the Great Depression showed far less color than they do today as ink was expensive. Most fashion illustrations in magazines showed the clothing in sketch form rather than photographs.
Historic Dress Design of 1932
What to wear in 1932
Paris was the fashion leader of the day and fashionistas declared that the public was in a 'chastened mood,' due to the tanked economy, and no longer wanted extravagance. Simplicity and straight lines were the order of the day with a 'transition from hysterical luxury' toward a more placid existence.
Waistlines were up in 1932 as opposed to the previous year's normal waistlines. Cotton moved from the back porch and was featured in chic town suits.
Recommended popular fabrics included:
- crepe de chine
- crepe satin
- crepe mongol
- plain and printed chiffon
In 1932, people wore hats and no ensemble was complete without one. The season's fashionable hats perched on top of the head and were accented with the addition of flowers or bows. Hat brims were narrow, turned down in front and up in the back, and worn at a rakish angle.
As waistlines rose, shoulders broadened with some dresses and suits featuring shoulder pads. The aim was to slenderize with clean, straight lines and a neat, tailored cut to dresses. Some designers approached a 'mannish' look to their clothing lines. Diagonal lines were popular with many of the top fashion designers.
Jackets were short, bolero style in both sportswear and evening wear, though a few suits were shown with longer jackets to slenderize.
The dress patterns offered suggested the appropriate age for wearing the outfits but most were for ages 14-20. After age 20, what was a gal to wear? No answer to this question was presented.
The wordage used to describe fashion was a bit different in those days. The word 'frock' was often used instead of the word, 'dress.' And if the outfit was supposed to be worn for good times and fun, it was referred to as 'gay.'
Evening gowns were often mentioned. Even middle class women wore evening gowns back then. A popular look for evening wear was modern Grecian, a classic, yet romantic look with dresses cut on the bias creating a sleek elegance.
Historic Fashion Design - 1932
Hisotric Dress Patterns of the 1930s
The lovely gray outfit at the right looks like a suit but is a one piece dress with the high waist typical of 1932 fashion design. The red scarf offers a jaunty note to the clean lines of this attractive frock. Pattern design by Shiaparelli.
The black dress with a red belt is by Bruyere of tailored chiffon. The crossed bands accentuate the diagonal, a slenderizing touch.
Notice that both models wear hats, dur rigueur for the well dressed woman of the time.
Historic Fashion Design of The Great Depression
The gray dress at right features a loose, draped collar and a popular new accessory, a soft, crushed scarf. Pattern by Lucille Paray
The red print dress is by Shiaparelli. The slenderizing bodice and diagonal lines accentuated the clean lines and tubular look that was prominent in 1932 fashions. Note the smart buttons added as trim.
Sportswear of 1932
The four sportswear dress patterns were featured as 'what to wear when you play.' Suggested fabrics were rough surfaced, ribbed, or nubby.
- The neckline is high as is the waist. The dress features an interesting, diagonally closed bodice with large buttons. Notice the flared sleeves. By Agnes Drecoll.
- A simulated bolero jacket with short sleeves combines with box pleats in front to give this dress a jaunty look. By Agnes Drecoll.
- This attractive suit is great for business, travel, or street wear. Suggested fabrics include silk jersey, or cotton tweed. Notice the longer jacket length and the belled sleeves. By Chantal.
- The tailored look of this outfit with contrasting bodice and skirt is highlighted by the addition of a scarf that is buttoned down at the waistline. By Lucile Paray.
Fashion Design Circa 1932
Historic Fashion of the Great Depression
The company, Authentic Paris Patterns, offered these attractive fashion designs for dresses made with chiffon.
- This combination of plain and printed fabrics with cap sleeves, a rounded neckline, diagonal seams, and the note of ruffle at the side made this dress both fun and dressy. By Joseph Paquin.
- This afternoon dress is made of two shades of the same color fabric with a snug bodice and high waistline. By Agnes Drecoll.
- A printed chiffon with loose collar and a soft, crushed belt by Joseph Paquin.
The picture above was not presented as a fashion sketch but as an illustration for a short story.
In 1932, women did occasionally wear trousers for certain activities though not for day to day wear. The young lady looks quite sporty in her jodhpurs, one of the only women featured in the magazine to be shown wearing pants.
Ladies Home Journal, May, 1932
Fashions of a Decade, The 1930s by Patricia Baker
Fashions of the 1930s
1930s Fashion Show
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