Modern Era: 1920-1940
During the 1920s, clothing styles officially entered the modern era of fashion design. During this decade, women began to liberate themselves from constricting clothes for the first time and openly embrace more comfortable styles like pants and short skirts. While popular fashions remained relatively conservative prior to 1925, short skirts, low waistlines, and revolutionary styles of the flapper era characterized the latter half of the decade (Hall 1992). Dresses were made to fit close to the body in order to emphasize youthful elegance. Hems were cut to the knee, and waistlines disappeared almost entirely. Cloche hats without rims also became a key popular clothing item during this period (Prendergast 2004).
The fashion styles of the flapper era lasted throughout the 1920s and into the early 1930s before the hardships of the Great Depression forced more conservative trends. During this time, skirts became longer and the natural waistline became a more important part of dresses as society began to move back toward a more traditionally feminine look (Hall 1992). While some trends of the 1920s, such as cloche hats and bobbed hair, lasted slightly longer, the difficult times of the 1930s definitely called for more conservative wear.
The decade of the 1930s also saw the first true distinction between day and evening styles. During the affluent era of the 1920s, women could easily wear impractical clothing during the day without worry, so long as domestic servants took care of the chores (Pendergast 2004). However, the hard times of the Depression caused many women to do more work at home themselves and necessitated more practical clothing for the daytime. Simple skirts and pared-down outfits allowed for ease of mobility in the daytime, while new fabrics such as metallic lamé became popular for more luxurious evening wear. The newly improved, synthetic fabric rayon became an important part of many designers’ fashions during the 1930s,...
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