Sunday, May 30, 2010

Vintage 1940s' fashion

Clothing of 1940s'

It is worthless to discuss fashion of the forties without first understanding the tremendous impact World War II had on everyday life during the early part of the decade. Social trends dictate fashion. World War II changed the world of fashion forever.
On September 3, 1939 England and France declared war on Germany. On June 14, 1940 Paris fell to Germany. German occupation began controlling haute couture. During the war, the Germans seriously considered moving the French couture houses to Berlin and re-establishing the seat of haute couture in Berlin. Berlin would then be known as the fashion capital of the world. On September 3, 1940, the United States transferred destroyers to Great Britain. The United States officially entered World War II on December 8, 1941.
Prior to World War II, New York fashion designers made the trek across the Atlantic Ocean to attend the flamboyant and opulent French fashion shows each year. They then returned to the United States and copied the latest Parisian haute couture designs. Once the Germans occupied Paris and the United States stationed battleships in the Atlantic Ocean, the New York designers were cut off from Paris haute couture. In their attempts to design new fashions for the United States market, they concentrated on sportswear. This led to the United States emerging as the sportswear capital of the world.
In an effort to comply with the restrictions imposed on them, American designers created a new style of suits for women. Skirts were short and straight topped by short jackets of twenty-five inches or less in length. Cardigans matched skirts and sheath evening dresses replaced the long flowing gowns of the thirties.
McCalls produced patterns for transforming men’s suits into ladies’ suits and women’s dresses into children’s clothing. The women of America were once again sewing their own family’s garments.
The true hallmarks of fashion in the early 1940s included an austere silhouette with narrow hips, padded shoulders, and all manner of hats. The working-class look of icons such as Rosie the Riveter became chic, as women of all social standings joined the war effort. They kept things going at home, taking over the jobs – and the closets – of husbands and other male relatives. Class barriers fell and people dressed down. It was considered gauche to be showy during a time of shortage. Designers flexed their creative muscle – even creating beautifully decorated gas masks for eveningwear!

American designers introduced the concept of separates and co-ordinating components in order to create the illusion of more outfits than one actually had. Classic sportswear styles took hold on college campuses and were soon adopted by all levels of society and all age groups.

Many varieties of peplums were in vogue: butterfly, bustle and gathered peplums were a few. Ruffles found their way to skirt hems, necklines and waists. Gored, gathered and A-line skirts were topped with soft, feminine blouses. Blouses donned bows at the center-front neckline and might sport full or puffy sleeves. Collars were cut generously full, in peter pan and traditional pointed shirt-collar designs. Lace also accentuated blouses around the neckline.

Women everywhere used household items, including cellophane and pipe cleaners, to create festive shoe decorations. Everything was recycled, giving rise to such clever advertising as Vogue’s “Make Do & Mend” campaign. Factories were converted from consumer goods production to military production. U.S. rationing rules limited the height of shoe heels to one inch and allowed for only six color choices; stockings were also unavailable. Magazines and beauty salons helped out by offering tips on how to paint legs with back seams and tan using makeup. This being impractical as an ongoing ritual, ankle socks became increasingly popular.

In 1947, Dior introduced the “New Look”, featuring longer lengths and fuller skirts; a return to classic femininity with a nipped waist. The use of many yards of fabric in garments was now seen as lavish and opulent. Women’s fashion changed to a soft, feminine and romantic image. The accompanying shoe designs would set the stage for the next decade…
Menswear in the 40s

The end of the war and rationing in America saw the development of the style that is most often associated with the swing era. Clothes were full-cut again, with double-breasted, longer jackets and wider trousers. Shirts and coats came in a range of colors and hand-painted silk ties ran the range from elegant to exotic – featuring geometric designs or pin-up girls. Everyone wore a tie and through it, one could express one’s individuality.
The Zoot Suit
The Jazz Era’s wide suit, hugely popular in Harlem in the 1930s, was worn predominately by African-American and Mexican-American youths in the 1940s. It was considered unpatriotic and even illegal because it went so far against the standards of rationing. The fact that so many of the Mexican-Americans who wore it were gangsters did not help its reputation. However, the high-waisted, baggy and low-crotched trousers with the narrow ankle and oversized jackets had a powerful influence on men’s fashions in the 1940s. Besides being an ideal outfit to wear while jitterbugging, the high waists and boxy, roomy coats were flattering, as well as comfortable. They gave a man more substance, something he wanted to project during such desperate times.
The look most commonly associated with men’s fashion in the 1940s, was what a man wore to take his honey out on the town. If he wasn’t in uniform, is look was strictly adhered to by today’s swing revivalists. Daring young men wore zoot suits, but others simply took off their single-breasted jackets to dance and showed off their style through their accessories. Even after the war, the accessories really made the man.
The tie, as mentioned above, was crucial. In the 1940s, high-cut trousers meant ties were shorter and wider. They were brightly colored when everything else was austere. They were held in place by clips, because you wouldn’t put a pin through your good tie.
Shirts were held in place by good cufflinks and dressed up by suspenders, which fastened to the trousers by buttons. Suspenders were especially popular when the leather that would make belts was all going to the war effort.
Almost everyone wore wingtip, spectator shoes, which were not terribly different from men’s shoes in the 1920s or 1930s. When he wasn’t wearing an Army-issued cap, a man distinguished himself with his wide-brimmed fedora. A smart, strong, stylish hat, the fedora was worn by everyone from gangsters to businessmen to President Roosevelt.
More 1940’s websites
How to dress 1940’s style
Costume Gallery
40’s Fashions
Women in WWII
1940’s icons
Lucille Ball
Judi Garland
Desi Arnaz
Gene Kelly
Joan Crawford
Lana Turner
Mickey Rooney
Betty Grable
Bette Davis

Friday, May 28, 2010

Vintage 1930s' fashion

Clothing of 1930s'

Fashion of the 1930s was directly influenced by the great Wall Street Crash of October 24, 1929 and subsequent Depression. The Autumn, 1930 Sears Catalogue admonished, “Thrift is the spirit of the day. Reckless spending is a thing of the past.” The beginning of the decade saw women sewing more. Clothing was mended and patched before being replaced.
A softer, more feminine style replaced the boyish, flapper look of the twenties. At the beginning of the decade, hemlines dropped dramatically to the ankle and remained there until the end of the thirties. Necklines were lowered while torsos were sensuously molded beneath squared shoulders. Skirts were also designed in great detail with moderately full skirts accentuating a small waist and minimizing the hips. Dress bodices were designed with inset pieces and yokes. Necklines received dramatic attention, often with wide scallop-edged or ruffled collars.
The entertainment industry continued to exert a strong influence over fashion. Movies were one of the few escapes from the harsh reality of the Depression. Movie star endorsements of styles and accessories became common, especially with evening wear. A popular formal look was the empire-waisted gown, with ties at the back. The dress might boast butterfly or large, puffy sleeves. Hemlines fell at the ankle and trains added a further formal touch. Fabric flowers might be placed at the neckline, on one shoulder, or at the center waist or center neckline. Bows were another popular accent. The peplum made its debut in the late thirties evening wear.
Fur of all kinds was worn extensively during this era, both during the day and at night. Fur capes, coats, stoles wraps, accessories and trimmings adorned women’s dresses. Pelts in demand were sable, mink, chinchilla, Persian lamb and silver fox.
The cloche hat was replaced by the beret which was worn at an angle. Pill boxes became popular along with brimmed hats. Popular hairstyles for women were still worn close to the head with the deep set, finger waves and later the waves loosened up.

A variety of shoe styles was available during this era. Rounded toes were seen with wide, thick heels. Pumps and flat shoes were available, and ankle strap styles with moderate heels also appeared. Slip-on styles, lace-up shoes and buckle shoes were all worn. Spectator or two-tone shoes appeared in the early thirties.

Handbags of the early thirties looked like those of the twenties. Beaded bags were abundant, as well as enameled mesh bags. During the later part of the decade, leather became very popular.
As far as men’s clothing, it was during this decade that promoting clothing for its ’snob appeal’ was begun. Clothing manufacturers have always known that if changes are continuously made to clothing so that it goes out of fashion quickly, more sales will be made as women rush out to refurbish their closets. This was not applied to men’s clothing though until the 1930s. Men also began to discard their undershirts supposedly because Clark Gable took off his shirt in a movie and only his bare chest was visible. Warm shirts in large plaids, and early in the 30s the single breasted jacket was the male look. Later in the decade, double breasted jackets became popular yet again and the front of the man’s jacket was higher.
This decade saw many improvements in mass production techniques, which meant a wider range of women now had access to well-made clothes. The advent of War in 1939 however stopped civilian access to clothing manufacturers for several years while the country focused on the war effort. On September 3, 1939 England and France declared war on Germany.
Picture Collections of 1930’s Fashions
These picture collections showing Fashion from the 1930’s are listed here, each section contains a selection of original 1930s fashion illustrations or pictures, depicting styles from the era.
1930’s icons
More 1930’s information


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Vintage 1920s' fashion

Clothing of the 1920’s
The 1920’s in America were great times of change. Coming out of the despair of the first World War, society exploded in a million different directions. The 20’s were a time for women voting, the Harlem Renaissance, and a incredible burst of affluence for the middle class. With cars and appliences making peoples lives easier, leisure time was also an added luxury.
Although the 1920’s fashion (especially for women) tend to be thought of as mannish, skimpy and flamboyant (bobbed hair, long pearl necklaces, cloche hats, knee length and thin dresses etc.) the styles were also elegant, sexy and even contemporary. 1920’s fashion was about so much more than the cliche that many people associate with the era, flapper dresses and feathered headbands. The twenties had it’s fads as well as its classics, a few of which live on today. It was a romantic era for fashion, which is why people look back at it with great fondness and still emulate it’s style.

Fashion History
Between about 1880 and 1910, the ideal woman ’silhouette resembled the letter “S.” Women’s bodies were forced into corsets of an hourglass shape, with waists contained in tiny circlets measuring less than 20 inches. The upper torso was brought forward, creating a “pigeon front,” and the hips were thrust backward and slightly up, finishing out the letter “S.” Skirts hit the floor, and the sight of even an ankle was considered to be quite racy. The 1910s were a time of great transition. The S-shape started softening a bit and by the 1920s it took a dramatic turn. Women were flattening their busts and hips and unbinding their waists from the constraining corsets, which resulted in a long, slim line known as “garçonne,” meaning ‘boyish’ in French. Dress waistlines fell, beginning at about the natural line at the start of the 1920s and dropping to around the hips just a bit later in the decade.

Bare in Bathing Suits
Barer bathing wear took on special significance as an expression of women’s newfound freedom. Swimsuits of the 1920s were either short taffeta shifts — favored by older women — or tight, sleeveless wool tank suits with built-in undershorts which stopped at mid-thigh. Women protected their bobbed hairdos by wearing bathing caps. Some women, especially in the most fashionable resorts, wore dramatic cover-ups over their suits. People became health-food, exercise and sun-worship oriented in a major fitness fad, triggered by all that flesh out in public view for the first time.
Men’s swimwear consisted of tank suits with under shorts, usually made of body-hugging wool. This style of bathing suit continued to be popular for men through the 1930s.

“Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel
French fashion designer Chanel emerged in fashion in the 1920s with great force. She proved to be one of the century’s most influential designers and entrepreneurs. Her designs freed women from the 19th century corset. She designed her first chemise dress in 1920 and the collarless cardigan jacket in 1925. Simplicity, elegance and comfort marked her style. She introduced her signature perfume fragrance, Chanel No. 5, in 1925.
Clothing Production
It might be a surprise to learn that in the 1920s, a lot of clothing was still made at home or by tailors and dressmakers. The brand name, ready-to-wear industry did not really exist until the 1930s; however some ready-made clothing was available from department stores and mail-order catalogs. Paris design houses developed two collections a year, one for the spring season and one for the autumn season. Each designer presented prototypes on models in his or her own salon. Garments would then be copied and made to order for each individual. This required several fittings and work by many seamstresses and apprentices. The shapes of this period were easily adapted to standardized sizes because of their simplicity. This, along with the introduction of electronically powered sewing machines, led to mass production and distribution of new clothing styles. Consumerism in the United States was revolutionized and the number of fashion magazines increased greatly, providing immediate information on fashion trends.
 Hair and Makeup
Another important ingredient of the “masculine” look was a short, boyish haircut. Women chopped off the poufy hairdos of the 1900s and 1910s for modern ‘bobbed,” waved or shingled styles. Those stragglers who chose not to cut their hair wore it pulled back at the nape of the neck and knotted in a chignon. For eveningwear, headbands or Spanish-style hair combs held chignons in place. Bobbed hair was first introduced during World War I and was popularized by Irene Castle. The impact of bobbed hair, and all it was felt to represent, was monumental. The popular culture of the time is filled with jokes, stories, cartoons, songs, theatrical skits, newspaper articles, and short movies, about bobbed hair.
Fashion-conscious men wore their hair parted in or near the center and slicked back with brilliantine, an oily, perfumed hairdressing that added shine and kept hair from moving. This look was popularized starting in the early 1920s by screen idols, such as Rudolph Valentino.
Makeup was simple: pale powder and cream rouge circles on the cheeks; brows plucked and penciled in thin arches; lips painted brilliantly red, emphasizing the Cupid’s bow of the upper lip, and de-emphasizing the width of the lower lip, creating a rosebud pout. These “bee-stung” lips are unmistakably characteristic of the 1920s.
Hats Galore
In the early 1920s, hats had deep crowns and medium-to-large brims, but in 1923, brims began disappearing and hats became helmet-like. These hats, or cloches, were quite popular even though they were unattractive on anyone but the very young and the extremely pretty. Though in a spring, 1924 issue of Vogue would pose the question, “Is the cloche dead?” they were the latest fad for most of the 1920s, finally easing out of fashion around 1930.
In summer, men sported broad brimmed Panama straw hats and in the fall and winter, English driving caps were popular for casual wear, while felt fedoras for everyday wear with suits and sport coats were frequently worn.

Those Outrageous Hemlines
Hemlines hovered at the lower calf at the start of the 1920s and remained there until nearly 1925 when they rose to an unprecedented high — the bottom of the knee. They stayed there until 1929 when they dropped back down to the lower calf. Stockings were made of silk and had back seams. Casual or sport stockings were made of cotton lisle. Stockings were rolled just above the knee and held fast with pretty elastic garters. Patterned hose from Paris was in vogue for a while, showing gorgeous hand-painted designs or embedded rhinestones near the ankle.
Elegant Evening Wear
Two big misconceptions exist about 1920s fashion. Contrary to popular belief, women did not always wear fringed flapper dresses with feathered bandeaux and a long strand of beads. There were many other styles of evening dresses. The other misconception is that hemlines in the 1920s were worn way above the knee. Evening clothes were made of luxurious fabrics — mostly silks — in velvets, taffetas and chiffon. Dresses were designed to move while dancing. Some had long trailing sashes, trains or asymmetric hemlines. Typically, women did not wear hats for evening, but instead wore fancy combs, scarves and bandeaux. For evening wear, Paris was the place and haute couture was hot. Paris was equated with high fashion, and even a scarf or a small accessory from that city was considered the ultimate in chic. Designers such as Molyneaux, Vionnet, Poiret, Lanvin, and Chanel reigned, and, late in the decade, an important newcomer appeared: Elsa Schiaparelli, who in later decades went on to create novelty and surrealist-print clothing in collaboration with Salvador Dali.

1920’s Men’s Fashion
Men’s suits and sport jackets consisted of two- and three-button as well as double breasted styles. Men often preferred to wear pants at the natural waistline and often cuffed at the bottom. Men slipped pocket watches on chains called fobs into their vests, which were often worn with suits. Tuxedos were practically the same as those worn today, sometimes worn with a silk brocade vest, an elegant accessory.
Men’s business and formal wear has not changed much since the 1920s. However, a notable exception is casual wear. A fashionable sporting outfit usually consisted of linen knickers, a V-necked sweater with a bow tie, and, the classic spectator shoes. An English driving cap or casual straw hat supplemented the outfit well. College men started the trend of “oxford bags,” wide-legged cuff pants that dragged along the ground. These pants had leg openings up to 36 inches. The popular yachting look displayed a navy sport coat, white slacks, and yachting cap. Bow- and standard windsor-knot neckties were equally popular. This casual look was topped off by an English driving cap or a summer-weight brimmed hat, such as a Panama straw.

Famous 1920’s icons
More 1920’s information