20th Century Fashion / 1930s Fashion

1930s Fashion

The Wall Street crash in 1929, followed by the Great Depression that soon reached Europe had a major influence on the 1930s fashion. The 1920s forward-looking style of clothing that was still worn in 1930 soon gave way to more conservative style. Skirts got longer again, while brightly coloured men’s garments went out of fashion.

Besides the Great Depression, the 1930s fashion was also influenced greatly by Hollywood stars such as Joan Crawford and Fred Astaire, while many men and women also looked up to Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson as fashion icons.

Women’s Fashion

As mentioned earlier, skirts in the 1930s got longer. Mid-calf length was the golden standard throughout the decade but the late 1930s saw the introduction of skirts that were just below the knee and were fashionable until the end of the Second World War. Waistline returned to its traditional position and women started experimenting with new makeup with an aim to create a more feminine look.

Wide shoulders were another major change in the 1930s women’s fashion. In the late 1930s, however, the focus moved from the shoulders to the back which was especially noticeable in evening dresses. Both daytime and evening garments were worn with gloves which had a very important role in the 1930s women’s fashion.

Cloche hats were worn until about 1933 when they fell out of fashion, while 1920s inspired short hair remained fashionable until the late 1930s and early 1940s.

Men’s Fashion

Just like women’s 1930s garments, men’s outfit was marked by wide shoulders which were created by shoulder pads. Another major change was the colour of men’s garments which became less bright and reflected the hard times following the stock market crash.

In the early 1930s, the so-called London Drape or drape cut that was designed for The Prince of Wales by Frederick Scholte became a new trend in men’s fashion, especially after it had been adopted by film stars such as the previously mentioned Fred Astaire and Cary Grant. Next to The Prince of Wales, they were regarded as fashion icons.

The 1930s also saw the first zoot suits which, however, were worn only by a minority of men. The most popular hat in the 3rd decade of the 20th century was the fedora, while many continued to wear homburgs.

Fabrics and Novelties

The 1930s saw increased use of artificial fabrics such as rayon, viscose and nylon. Also, the period saw widespread of zip fasteners.