What women wore in 1920’s fashion. The gamine silhouette, drop waist shift dress and influence of the Art Deco movement in style
How to Dress in 1920’s Fashion Film
The silhouette of the 1920’s was straight and slim, and as narrow as possible on the hips
The Drop Waist Dress
The broad drop waist dress became a cult. 29 or 30 inches was quite normal. The waist line dropped, thanks to the earlier popularity of belted sheath dresses in the late 1910’s. By 1922, this drop waist effect, was sewn in to a simpler chemise or shift dress.
Lingerie in the 1920’s
Once again, it was the corset that imposed the line, but a much softer one. Women in the 1920’s often disposed of corsets altogether in
preference for simple camisole and knickers. The brassiere was on the rise, but bra cups did not make their
impact truly felt until the next decade.
The style of the day was also reflected in the 1920’s bathing costume, which at last became more suited to their purpose.
The typical 1920’s dress was a belt less shift dress, shaped like a tube. The 1920’s dress hung from the shoulders, with a drop waist and hem line just below the knee. Skirts were pleated and worn with loose blouses and cardigans. Ornaments were a must.
Stockings in the 1920’s
This new exposure of legs became important, and Rayon stockings came in to show them off. It is significant that the sale
of stockings rose markedly in the 1920’s. Advertising of women’s hosiery ( previously a men only club) also rose, with demure illustrations of shapely legs appearing in most magazines during the 1920’s.
Patterns were bold and large, and the whole effect was two dimensional and gamine in silhouette. The Art Decoratif mode took off
in strides, and appliqued angular patterns were much in vogue.
1920’s Day Dress
With such simple styles, ready to wear clothes in the 1920’s that were fashionable, became
easier for every woman to buy. The mail order catalog business, allowed women to easily assemble a fashionable 1920’s fashion wardrobe
for each season of the year. The simple 1920’s day dress, a shift frock ( hanging from the shoulder), and often with a drop waist effect was the most sought after garment.
1920’s Formal Dress
The true 1920’s formal dress was an expensive model made to order. The really smart woman, if she had the money, would get her gowns made in Paris, London or New York ! The stereotype flapper fringe dress, was not on a smart woman’s order list.
That’s all !
This is an excerpt from Sixty Years in Fashion, a film created in 1960 by the Central Office of Information, sponsored by The Board of Trade.
Directed by Simon Napier Bell and photographed by Larry Pizer.
Costumes by The Victoria and Albert Museum
Corsets by R&W.H. Symington
Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0
The Central Office of Information Archive