FASHION HISTORY: The Roaring Twenties

Friday, April 15, 2011

It appears that my post yesterday on "What is Vintage?" was pretty popular. I was eager to find out that I am not the only person who had questions on the term Vintage in regards to clothing.  Thinking about the decades that fall under vintage (1920s to the 1980s), I'd have to pick the 1920s as my favorite decade of vintage clothing.  I've always been in love with flapper dresses, and definitely think the gangster look of the 20s was very attractive for men. Here are some pictures I found of 1920s fashion on the internet.

Check out this old McCall's Sewing Pattern!

Cars from the 20s

Wikipedia Definition of The Roaring Twenties
The Roaring Twenties is a phrase used to describe the 1920s, principally in North America, but also in London, Berlin and Paris. The phrase was meant to emphasize the period's social, artistic, and cultural dynamism. 'Normalcy' returned to politics in the wake of World War I, jazz music blossomed, the flapper redefined modern womanhood, Art Deco peaked, and finally the Wall Street Crash of 1929 served to punctuate the end of the era, as The Great Depression set in. The era was further distinguished by several inventions and discoveries of far-reaching importance, unprecedented industrial growth, accelerated consumer demand and aspirations, and significant changes in lifestyle and culture.

The social and cultural features known as the Roaring Twenties began in leading metropolitan centers, especially Chicago, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, Paris and London, then spread widely in the aftermath of World War I. The United States gained dominance in world finance. Thus when Germany could no longer afford war reparations to Britain, France and other Allies, the Americans came up with the Dawes Plan and Wall Street invested heavily in Germany, which repaid its reparations to nations that in turn used the dollars to pay off their war debts to Washington. By the middle of the decade, prosperity was widespread. The second half of the decade becoming known as the "Golden Twenties". In France and francophone Canada, they were also called the "années folles" ("Crazy Years").[1]

The spirit of the Roaring Twenties was marked by a general feeling of discontinuity associated with modernity, a break with traditions. Everything seemed to be feasible through modern technology. New technologies, especially automobiles, moving pictures and radio proliferated 'modernity' to a large part of the population. Formal decorative frills were shed in favor of practicality in both daily life and architecture. At the same time, jazz and dancing rose in popularity, in opposition to the mood of the specter of World War I. As such, the period is also often referred to as the Jazz Age.

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Modern take on 20s Fashion
I have to admit that I would wear a flapper dress everyday like it was the next big thing in fashion if I could. I love the elongated wastes and the fringe. They pretty much flattered every figure. I wore a modern day version of a flapper dress to Vegas for my 25th birthday in 2009!

Of course in the 20s they were just starting to raise the hemlines on dresses, so having this low-cut V-neckline would have been scandalous back then! But I love this dress, and it's a little big. I loved it so much that I knew when I bought it that it was too big for me, but it was the only size they had at Express, so I bought it anyway! Back then, I didn't really care about fit too much...but now looking back, I should have had the dress tailored! I will definitely get it tailored so that I can continue to wear it. 

The cloche hat (the last picture above) has come back full circle.  I love wearing cute little hats with outfits...even though I haven't blogged that many posts with hats yet...but they are coming! The sun down here is intense, and not only can I protect my hair and face from the sun, but I can look cute while doing it! So there you have it folks! My vintage pick: The Roaring Twenties!

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  1. Love everything about this Roaring Twenties blog. The fashions were great for the most part back then and they keep revolving into the present. That picture of the lady driving the car scares me. She looked like she didn't take any mess from anyone--probably had a machine gun on the other side of her. You look great in the modern day flapper dress. Interesting how fashion changes but remains the same in many respects.

  2. @Mom - haha, yea she looks pretty tough. Probably a gangsta's girlfriend!

  3. hey, I have a tumblr: and I believe if you search "missnonhuman" in your google reader, you can follow me from there :) hope to run into you in the streets sometime!

    great post on 20s fashion, the image of the fashion illustrations is beautiful!

  4. Good job with this post! I love how it was educational and then how you showed us how the look has come back to modern day by showing us the pic of your Vegas dress. Maybe you can do some similar posts like this in the future with some of the other decades. :-)

  5. @Michelle - Thanks! I had fun doing this post! I'll see if I can find you!

    @Margaritats - Thank you, glad you enjoyed it!

    @Tori - Thanks girl. I definitely love this era. I'm thinking about doing it every Friday for each decade. It was fun looking at images from different decades and comparing them to how people wear them now

    1. shasie, you should make a page about the daily life. or life in general. i've had a hard time looking and findint answers. love the website and your dress!

  6. Love the blog. However, "wastes" should be "elongated waists". Just a note!

  7. Hahaha, I tend to do that all the time, when typing! Thanks for catching that, I'll change it!

  8. Love 1920's fashion :) thanks for adding these photos they're great!

  9. Thanks! Glad you liked this post!

  10. Hi Shasie,

    I'm with an exhibit design firm and working on a project that will incorporate the look of the 20s. Love the image of the 5 flappers in black and white. Do you have a source for that one? We are interested in using for an exhibit and would need a high resolution version. Thanks! Robbi with Solid Light.

    1. Unfortunately I do not! I just googled for images back when I first did this post.


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