Style Through The Decades: 1920s Women

Everyone associates the 1920’s with a very particular style; the baggy, knee length flapper dress, accompanied by the glitzy headband and perhaps even a cheeky feather boa. However, this brightly coloured, almost extravagant style didn’t actually come into the limelight until 1925 and later. Although from the very beginning of the decade there were shorter skirts that had slits in to increase motion. No more waddle – causing hobble skirts, thank you very much.

Cloche hats were phenomenally popular, world - wide. Credit: jorgemolina28 (Flickr)

Cloche hats were phenomenally popular, world – wide. Credit: jorgemolina28 (Flickr)

Women were also, and prepare yourself here, bobbing their hair. Farewell, long wavy tresses that were tugged at and pulled into extravagant hairstyles. When it came to hair, simplicity was the name of the game. It was cut, sometimes to just below the ears, and often tucked away under a cloche hat; which was almost porkpie in style except for the wide brim. If you’ve ever seen a photo of a woman from that decade and she’s wearing a hat, the likelihood is that it was a cloche hat. Although this style was frowned upon and judged by the matrons of society (who also, shockingly disdained the knee length flapper dress) by the end of the decade it was common, even being sported by royalty such as Elisabeth Gabriele of Bavaria, Queen of Belgium. Fancy.

Something was needed to kick start the years of consumerism and indulgence that the 1920’s are best known for. Dancing became a hugely popular pastime, most especially the Charleston, and the new style of dress, with a low waist and full hemline, meant that women could kick up their heels with the men like never before. Skirts were almost at knee – length, if you can believe it, and women seemed to have completely thrown off the restricting corset of the Victorian and early 20th century style of dress, and were fully – and rightly so – enjoying the looser, more comfortable clothing.

Shorter dresses with lower waistlines and flared skirts became commonplace by the end of the decade. Credit: Gösta & Edvin Storm

Shorter dresses with lower waistlines and flared skirts became commonplace by the end of the decade. Credit: Gösta & Edvin Storm

It was also fashionable to be skinny in the 1920’s, to the extent where your figure could be described as ‘boyish’. Flatter chests and flattened hips became the ideals, which was essentially the first time in history that this had been the case. Fashion was forthcoming and ground breaking for the age, reflecting the women’s rights movement, which was a very good thing.

Of vital importance was the replacing of the traditional corset with a chemise or camisole and bloomers (Long, frilly knickers. They looked a bit ridiculous but anything’s better than wearing what was essentially whale bone, linen and laces).

And, of course, one of the first woman to cut her hair and reject wearing the corset was Coco Chanel, because she’s Coco Chanel and everything she did was amazing.