How Does the Representation of Women Change Between 1930-1960 on the Covers of Vogue?

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The perception of women has changed in the last century, because of the changes in the economy, lifestyles and the home. I am going to find out how women have changed between 1930 and 1960 and the effect Vogue has had on women’s lives.

Vogue has not only contributed to the acceptance of trends in the fashion and beauty industry, but in addition has become a reward in the changed in cultural thinking, actions and dress of women. Vogue is the world’s most influential fashion magazine, first founded by Kelly Trepkowski, writing on art, culture and politics. Vogue is regularly criticized, along with the fashion industry it writes about, for valuing wealth, social connections, and low body weight over more noble achievements from its inception in the late nineteenth century to the present.

The history of the 20th Century showed abrupt shifts to more radical and conservative lifestyles, with the Great Depression in the 1930s to the Swinging Sixties because of the libertine attitudes that emerged. Women slowly won back their rights as citizens, as in 1948 Cambridge University finally bowed to the public pressures and admitted women to its degrees and then 1950-1960 saw women teachers, bank managers and TV newsreaders. The struggle in those 30 years had a great impact on women across the world, and I believe may have changed the perception of women.

The fashion prior to the 1930s was more elegant, demure and expensive. With vogue issuing patterns within the magazine so women could have clothes tailored to their specific wants and needs. Fashion was very important to women at that time, with upper class socialites wanting the new trends and the latest in fashion accessories. This is what Vogue had to offer the women, as well as bridal fashion ranges. The covers were also related Sports and Leisure breaks for the upper class women and their husbands. Vogue helped to create the ideology of the ‘lady at leisure’.

There have been many cultural changes to women’s lives in the last one hundred years. After the euphoria of the twenties, the 1930s were a less vibrant decade for women, seeing the depression, which meant that all women were encouraged to return to their homes whilst men returned to jobs that were becoming scarce. All their roles and responsibilities were taken away from them; the economy could not deal with the growing number of men returning to work. Any women who married therefore gave up her right to work. This meant women had to spend more time at home doing the domestic jobs that would normally be considered the women’s ‘job’.

Then the 1940s saw women take back former responsibilities during World War Two, with the introduction of posters and adverts promoting the women’s right to work and showing women in power, with such phrases as ‘we can do it’. This was such an inspiration to many women as they felt wanted and needed, having to uphold the duties of the men during a very turbulent and testing time meant women could be proud of their achievements. During the beginning of the war Vogue still aimed all their issues at the upper class women, even though all women were at work together. This was not necessarily a bad part on Vogue, as it meant they could still try to establish a connection with their existing readers, and create a normal balance to detract from the traumas of the war.

The covers of vogue have changed dramatically between 1930-1960. Photography was not widely used in magazine editing; many magazines opted to present the latest in illustrations. The illustration would show and represent what the issue is about, many of the issues were related to women at leisure and also sporting activities they could participate in. All the illustrations were very Picasso like, with minimal colourings and there wasn’t a defined Vogue typeface. In 1933 (6th September) Vogue saw the first use of photography on the covers, mainly models presenting the latest in fashion and accessories. However the use...
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