Source: Hinesite Vintage
1930s fashion was an era of feminine and romantic style as influenced by America’s captivation with the silver screen and the beautiful stars who wore sensual silks, luxurious lace and backless bias cut gowns.
We can thank Rita Hayworth, Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Jean Harlow and other leading ladies for their influences on 1930s fashion trends, as it was their silver screen star power that inspired the contemporary ’30s lady to pursue a form of “escapism” style based on glitz, glamour and provocative mystery.
Unlike ’20s clothing trends, the ’30s silhouette embraced the female form for all to see. Bias cut slip dresses and natural waistlines replaced drop waist dresses, backless gowns replaced the mini dress trend, and voluminousness adornment a la cap sleeves, ruffles and maxi lengths replaced the straight, frill-less lines of a flapper dress meant for comfortable shimmying about the dance floor.
Considering the average income of an American family decreased by 40 percent between 1929 and 1932, you’d think that the styles of the day would be drab, depressing and definitely not as delightful as what you’re about to see in this article! The reality is that because times were so hard, men and women yearned to live vicariously through the fantastical fashions in the theater and attempt to re-create for themselves using sewing patterns and other do-it-yourself methods of clothing production.
While not every American girl was wearing the famous designers of the day a la a Coco Chanel knit suit, an Elsa Schiaparelli hat, a Madeleine Vionnet bias cut dress or a Madame Gres Grecian-style pleated dress, these were still the styles that graced the pages of Vogue and the runways of Paris and which inspired a trickle down effect influencing trends worn by the masses.
When not channeling Bette Davis’ Hollywood style, the contemporary ’30s girl was wearing a crepe-silk dress with a pair of laced oxford shoes and an attention grabbing hat perfectly tilted on her head.
Thanks to the female liberation of the ’20s flapper movement, middle class to upscale ladies of the 1930s were more active participants in day-by-day household affairs and were even working part time outside of the home. Thus, nine-to-five fashions were more utilitarian toward comfort and ease of movement.
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Other trends of ’30s clothing styles include the introduction of the zipper, capes-as-outerwear and thanks to Coco Chanel’s understanding that not all women could afford to replace their wardrobes every season, the fashionably acceptable popularity of costume jewelry as a relatively cheap pick-me-up for a woman’s seasonal outfits.