Women’s Fashion In The 1920s
After the end of World War I, the United States president, Warren G. Harding, claimed that he wanted to return to normalcy and to bring back the peace following the years of war; society did change, but it was no where near what it had been before the war (Marcovitz 14). “The reactionary temper of the 1920s and the repressive movements it spawned arose as reactions to a much-publicized social and intellectual revolution that threatened to rip America from it old moorings” (Tindall 800). During this time, the 18th Amendment was passed in order to maintain society’s previous morals and standards. Many Americans saw the consumption of alcohol as a sin and did not want their society to lose their morals (Marcovitz 8). Shortly after its passage, the 19th Amendment was passed allowing women the right to vote; instead of having a passive role in society, women were beginning to be more proactive. The appearance of woman in society did not stop work place; instead, because of prohibition and the popularity of speakeasies, women were welcomed and populated such venues. Tuxedoed men accompanied women wearing the latest fashions filled the latest clubs (Marcovitz 27). "Traditionally, 1920 was seen as marking a clear divide in the chronology of women's affairs: the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment giving women the vote ended years of struggle, and with the 'liberation' of the war, which destroyed old stereotypes, led on to the 'New Woman' of the 1920s" (Wynn 133). World War I was the turning point from traditional values to a newly enlightened America, a rebellious youth, and newly freed women; as art reflects society, the emancipation and celebration following the war is reflected in the style and fashion that came alive in this new era. “Beautiful coordinated and accessorized outfits were a feature of 1920’s ladies fashion, [which consisted of] hats, shoes, stockings, handbags, dresses and jewelry [that] all came together in perfect harmony to create a unique and elegant style” (Scott). This style portrayed the times as Americans began to stray from the past and the old American ways. “During those years a cosmopolitan urban America confronted an insular, rural America” leading to the development of urban cities (Tindall 800). In these populated cities, people began to let loose as “Prohibition indirectly led to bootlegging and speakeasies, while the growing rebelliousness of teenagers highlighted the generation gap” (Drowne back cover). Participation in these illegal venues had been unheard of in the previous decades, but these changing times encouraged the promotion of such activities and these environments called for a certain style and fashion. “The Twenties did roar, and this volume shows the many colorful ways the decade altered America, its people, and its future” (Drowne back cover). “This ‘new woman’ [that arose] eagerly discarded the constraining fashions of the nineteenth century – pinched-in corsets, conforming petticoats, and floor-length dresses” (Tindall 801). As the times were changing, their fashion changed in order to reflect “the rebellion against prudishness and a loosening of inhibitions” (Tindall 801). These new trends shocked the old-timers as the “the revolution in manners and morals, evidenced first among young people” were represented in their clothing (Tindall 800). As women were beginning to live more freely, their style reflected the same attitude. “In 1919 women’s skirts were typically six inches about the ground; [but] by 1927 they were at the knee, and the ‘flapper’ was providing a shocking model of the new feminism” (Tindall 801). These women portrayed “a period of escapism, a youthful reaction against the dark and serious clothes, behavior and mood of an older generation still clinging to old Victorian and Edwardian values” (Herald 6). They were starting to represent the idea behind the ‘new women.’ During this time the girls are actually tempting the boys more...
Cited: Blaszczyk, Regina Lee. Producing Fashion: Commerce, Culture, and Consumers. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 2008. Print.
Cott, Nancy F
Herald, Jacqueline. Fashions of a Decade the 1920s. N.p.: Infobase, 2007. University of Texas
Scott, Robert. "1920s Fashions for Women." 1920 's Fashions in Womens Clothing. N.p., 2005.
Tindall, George Brown., and David E. Shi. America: A Narrative History. New York: W. W.
Wynn, Neil A. From Progressivism to Prosperity: World War I and American Society. New
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