Fashion in the 1920's

Shifting Point in Men's Fashion

Edwardian Men Clothes
Edwardian Men Clothes
Prior to the World War I, most American men wore different types of three piece, padded suits. The men's style was very conservative, and they didn't like to accept new fashions at first. For a long time, they had drudged on with their extremely formal, unstylish appearance. The men of high class would change their outfits several times each day, with the time of day and occasion determining the clothes that they changed into. This type of approach to dressing had been around for decades, so it was beginning to get worn out. Though they were seemingly reluctanct to adapt a new sense of fashion, a huge catalyst was prepared to change this.

The war sparked great leveling change between all of the classes. Because of the new leavening of these classes, the fashion of the men visibly shifted, although the women’s changes are the ones predominantly talked about. Apparent differences in the style of dressing sprouted all around America, as many people started wearing vibrant, brighter colors. Even the upper-class of men switched to unpadded, more relaxed jackets. Adjusting and taking advantage of the new styles at hand had become a priority for many men.
Jazz Age Men's Clothing
Jazz Age Men's Clothing


Some of the changes reflected the way of thought and life of the Jazz Age; the 1920's were very happy and fun years of music for people, which their clothes reflected. This period symbolized escapism since the youth were rebelling against the dark, boring, serious clothes that most American men had been wearing for so long. The old Edwardian and Victorian values were being replaced with the fresh, modern way of life that the generation was beginning to adapt. (1, 2, 3, 7)

Suits of the Jazz Age

1920s Mens Suits
1920s Mens Suits
The main staple ingredients for men's fashion during the1920's were brightly colored suits. The shirts that the men wore under their suits were usually peach, blue-grey, cedar or putty-colored, complemented by silk ties containing various little designs. These jazz suits consisted of wide legs, high waist bands, tightly-cuffed pants,and long jackets with broad shoulders.This new style of suits made the new casual look of society possible.

Hats became the essential accessory for suit outfits for all social and class levels. Prior to the 1920's heavy wool was the primary fabric used for hats. During the 1920's, people began to use tweed, a hand-woven fabric, and flannel to make the hats. When summer began, men would wear
Boater Hats
Boater Hats
boater hats. These boater hats were thin-brimmed straw hats that were decorated by a ribbon. The popular hats in the winter were fedoras- a hat with a flexible brim and a tapered crown. They were made from rabbit hair back then, though we make them from wool and tweed now. Without these hats, the casual suit look of the Roaring Twenties couldn't have been complete.


Though there was a new type of suit invented, the transition from edwardian style still took a few years. The conservative suits had tighter jackets and very narrow shoulders to make them resemble a slim silhouette. During the early 1920's the Edwardian suits were still socially acceptable and no judgment was placed upon those who chose to wear them. As the decade surged on, though, so did the modern ways. By the mid to late 1920's, nearly all of the men were wearing the vibrant, modern suits; the long tails were gone, along with the slim, stiff look of the Victorian and Edwardian times. (4)
Athletic Influence
One of the main influences of the men’s clothing was the type of clothing that they saw the athletes, such as tennis players and golfers, wearing.
mink.jpg
Grange's Raccoon Coat
Bobby Jones and Walter Hagen were two golf stars who had a major influence on what men chose to wear. These golfers made the knickers, which were baggy, short pants with a tight fastening band at the knee, popular. They gave the men a very relaxed look. When the young men around town saw the tennis players wearing white trousers, comfortable shorts and V-neck sweaters, they quickly picked up on this trend. Football players also helped shape the style of men. Red Grange, a famous player, popularized the raccoon coats. These coats were mainly only worn by college students. (4, 7).


This college look began to gain a lot of popularity during the 1920's. From the knickers that golfers had popularized, the Oxford bags emerged. The Oxford bags were another form of pantsthat branched off of the short, baggy knickers. These pants, which were longer and baggy, proved to make a more long-lasting stamp on the fashion of America. Unlike the knickers, the Oxford Bags continues to be worn for about three decades. The shoes that these college students wore were made from canvas material. The 1920's marked the first time period where there was a distinct college-student look.

These new men's styles that athletes created produce one common thing: they gave men a younger, more
Golfers- Knickers, Oxford Bags, Sweaters
Golfers- Knickers, Oxford Bags, Sweaters
comfortable look. Before the war, the men would try to walk around in many double-breasted suits, but by the 1920's men all wanted to look young. To do this, they attempted to develop a more casual, comfortable appeal by wearing baggier and brighter clothes than before. The new desired style of the famous athletes gave men an easy way to successfully create their new looks. Without the vibrant,accessible new display of fresh trends provided by the athletes, there wouldn't have been such a dramatic change in men's fashion. (1, 4, 5)

Development of 1920's Women's Fashion
The early 1900's were the most important years in relations to fashion dubbed the Edwardian Era. Along with the Industrial Revolution came the mass production of clothes in America, leading to the awareness of fashion trends. Fashion trends were strewn throughout every social class, and with every occasion there was a special requirement in regards to dress. The women of the Edwardian Era were known for their hourglass silhouette; the waist was contracted by a corset and the hips and bust were made to look fuller. Women were expected to wear long skirts and dresses, several of which had a train, adverse to the flappers of the 1920's who sported short, totally shapeless dresses. (1)
Edwardian Women of the 1900's
Edwardian Women of the 1900's

After World War 1, the role of women had dramatically changed: women were no longer shackled to the kitchen, but unleashed into the workforce. 1920's women had the strength to liberate themselves from the floor length dresses and frumpy haircuts of their mothers' to the jazzy flapper way. A true fantastic flapper sported a short sleek haircut and a dress that was shapeless and shorter than average. (2)
Flappers Partying
Flappers Partying

Although the young flapper women had control of their clothing style, the conformist adults were extremely opinionated on the new fashion fad. Young women asserted their freedom by voting, driving cars, dancing, drinking, smoking cigarettes, staying out late, and going to parties. The flapper women dressed in a manner that gave them the reputation of “girls wanting to be boys”. The adults were greatly outraged by the direction that the youth of the 1920's was headed in, so they opted to halt the “new generations” way of life. There were campaigns launched in order to protect the “moral code” of society. The goals of these campaigns were to save the future generations from inevitable chaos and destruction. Some orthodox states, such as Ohio and Utah, passed laws that called for fixed hems at about 7 inches from the floor. Dramatic measures were made in order to preserve the innocence, and purity of the 1920's and future women. (2, 5)

The Fantastic Flapper Way
The fashion trends of the 1920's flapper were extremely different then the trends of the Edwardian Era. For much of the decade, the dresses and sweaters were pure rectangles with various colors and patterns. The colors of the dresses were also much lighter than the dresses of the Edwardian Era. The hemlines of dresses were raised to an amazing high length; when a women sat down her knees were at times revealed. In some cases, if a woman were to sit and cross her legs, her stocking tops or garters were exposed.
1920's flapper model
1920's flapper model
This led to the popular, embroidered, beaded garters that were intended to be seen. The 1920's also saw the rise of the flesh-colored stockings made of artificial silk, giving legs the impression of nudity. Flappers aimed to have a straight body shape, giving no sense of bust or bottom. Corset fitters were the key element to achieving that boyish look. The corsets gave women the flat-chested, boyish look that everybody aimed for.

1920's Bob
1920's Bob

Clothing was a major part in the flapper lifestyle, but hair and head dress played an equally important role. Women strutted a short hairstyle called a bob, a shingle, or an Eton Crop. Another prominent feature of the 1920's was the cloche hat. Women wore these hats to tea dances, in the street, and even lunch parties in their own homes. These popular hats were also used as coded love symbols. Tying the ribbon in an arrow-like way that indicated a single women, a tight knot in the ribbon meant the women was married, and if the ribbon was tied in a bow the women was independent, and fancy-free.(3)

1920's Shingle
1920's Shingle

cloche hat
cloche hat


Flapper Couture
Coco Chanel
Coco Chanel

One of the most influential women of the flapper decade was the Paris fashion designer Coco Chanel. The clothes that she produced in her famous Chanel line were more casual than the clothes of the previouscentury and they had a sporty, independent sensibility. Women began playing sports such as tennis and golf in order to achieve and maintain the new popular boyish figure. Chanel's fashion were made from durable fabrics that were usually reserved for men. The Chanel collection included tennis style skirts,and loose cardigans instead of formal jackets. Also, throughout Coco's line there was a male motif like sailor outfits, and mechanic uniforms. In order to portray Cocos vision of the modern women, she would adorn them by beautiful bold jewelry. Instead of adding more layers to clothing in order to decorate them Coco would used elaborate embroidery and beads.

Chanel developed the little black dress (LBD) which first graced the pages of American vogue in 1926. The dress was described as “Chanel's Ford” because the dress was available in one form or another to all women, desp
Chanel jewelry
Chanel jewelry
ite t
heir economic status. The little black dress was a ground breaking movement and is a staple item of clothing in every women's wardrobe. (7)


The Little Black Dress
The Little Black Dress




Works Cited

1. Batterberry, Michael, and Ariane Ruskin Batterberry. Fashion the Mirror of History. London: Columbus, 1982. Print.
2. Herald, Jacqueline. Fashions of a Decade. New York: F
acts on File, 1992. Print.
3. Herald, Jacqueline. The 1920s. London: Batsford, 1991. Print.
4. "Mens Fashion Of The 1920s." Mens Suits | Dress For Success With Style And Swagger. Web. 11 Feb. 2011. <http://www.wear-mens-suits-with-swagger.com/mens-fashion-of-the-1920s.html>.

5. Miller, Bettina. From Flappers to Flivvers--: We Helped Make the '20s Roar! Greendale, WI: Reminisce, 1995. Print.
6. Stratford, SJ. "Men's Fashion in the 1920s - LoveToKnow Men's Fashion." Men's Fashion | Male Clothing | Big and Tall. Web. 27 Jan. 2011. <http://mens-fashion.lovetoknow.com/Men's_Fashion_in_the_1920s>.
7. Watson, Linda. Vogue Fashion. Buffalo, NY: Firefly, 2008. Print.
Pictureshttp://42ndblackwatch1881.wordpress.com/2009/03/10/racoon-tuer-the-coonskin-coat/ - Red Grange raccoon coathttp://www.flickr.com/photos/freeparking/468959691/- Edwardian Men Stylehttp://www.styleforum.net/showthread.php?t=89453- Jazz Age Men's Clothinghttp://www.machriebay.com/oldGolfonArran.html- Golfer Clothinghttp://penny-said.blogspot.com/2008/07/19-7-08.html- Boater Hatshttp://www.1920s-fashion-and-music.com/mens-suits.html- Roaring Twenties Suit Outfitshttp://www.1920s-fashion-and-music.com/mens-suits.html- Golfers- Knicckers, Oxford Bags, Sweaters and Roaring Twenties Men's suithttp://www.edwardianera.org/edwardian-era-fashion-2.jpg-Edwardian Womenhttp://www.glogster.com/media/1/10/17/7/10170729.gif-Flappers Partyinghttp://www.perfectlocks.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/20s-short-bob.jpg-1920's Bobhttp://www.swingfashionista.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/1920s-hair-gloria-swanson-180x253.jpg-1920's shingle'http://www.dreamy-hairstyles.com/image-files/1920s-hairstyle11.jpg-1920's Eton Crophttp://www.d.umn.edu/~jvaleri/flapper.jpg-1920's flapper modelhttp://www.couturecreations.net/site/images/Kaitlyn-cloche-F.jpg-cloche hathttp://www.katyauk.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/865_l_chanel20fashion-chanel20fashion1.jpg-Coco Chanelhttp://4.bp.blogspot.com/_OEoWXhjJ6nI/S_yd6J853jI/AAAAAAAADx8/Wqvo6BVWclw/s1600/6a00e54ef16809883300e55201777e8833-800wi.jpg-Chanel Jewelryhttp://metropotam.ro/mediaserver/T/W/1203266538little_black_dress.jpg-The Little Black Dress