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1920's sophistication

Between the usual monthly posts about vintage trends and seasonal changes, I'm hoping to throw in there a few blog posts about some of the more iconic era's.

The roaring 1920's are one of my favourite decades with its eloquent sophistication and sometimes debauchery.

Life back then was intriguing yet difficult to comprehend. Some can't even fathom it now in the millennial century but thats perhaps why the mystery and way of life seemed enticing. My love for watching such shows as Downton Abbey, Peaky Blinders and Boardwalk Empire sparked this particular blog post. For those who have watched any of these series, you'll know the entire cast, crew and stylists nailed everything. For Downton Abbey, the show wrapped up it's final season here in the US, but I was lucky enough to watch it before it aired. Another excellent series "Boardwalk Empire" sparked the same era, and watching this and Downtown really highlighted the difference in American and European fashion in the 1920's.

Downton Abbey Season 3

When you think of the 20's, tassels, square box shaped dresses, flappers, feathers and pearls come to mind. The gentlemen commonly wore the old "grandpa" cap or if you were a more wealthy gentleman, a brimmed hat. Funnily enough, the type of hat you wore almost instantly gave away your social class which is such an interesting cultural point.

Post WW1, it was a time of reasonable opulence, celebration and the turn of the mechanical revolution. Parties and gatherings especially in major cities became less stuffy, more "loose" with the spark of jazz and soul clubs. The Americans introduced prohibition because they saw alcohol as a major problem for the lower social classes which in theory may have worked well for some, but the underground trade and supply to the more wealthy and those who could afford it under the table grew. It was a different story in Britain where the champagne and whiskey flowed freely.

1920's Flappers

Fashion after WW1 took a more casual turn for the ladies. Out with the stiff bone corsets and larger fuller skirts, and in with the more masculine clothing and shapes. Boxy shaped shift dresses and blouses were popular for day wear, in colours of musky pink, mauve and neutral colours. Often plain boxy knitwear or coats accompanied a boxy style straight hipped day dress For evening attire, the ladies wore multiple layers of slips to give that flapper look. Sometimes undergarments consisted of lacy slips with a higher neck then a more satin or luxurious fabric overlay on top. Long elbow gloves were still worn but the dresses started to be made more strappy showing off shoulders and this was a bit sexy and risque at the time. The length of dresses also became shorter with some dresses allowing the showing of knees or hemlines came to just under the knee, showing off stockings and shoes. Accessories such as long strands of pearls, beads and other fine jewel's were popular and worn with this style of evening wear. It was in the mid 20's when jewellery manufacturers were able to make and market necklaces which were not made of real pearls making them more affordable and fashionable to all.

For the lads, waistcoats and 3 piece suits were all the rage, either in wool or tweed greys.

There was a slight difference in fabrics for the gents when you compare European styles to American styles. The American's loved their pin stripes and plaid fabrics with wider long ties in luxurious fabrics and prints, where it seems the Londoner's and European's were more for the plainer colours (black, grey) and often wore their suits without a tie, if they did it was usually black. The shirts all had the rounded collar ends and sat quite high on the neck.

Boardwalk Empire season 2

I often wonder what it would be like to have to get all dressed up (even during the day) to leave the house and venture out on your daily errands, with a hat, with gloves etc. It seemed "proper" to do so. I've often talked about how these days people sometimes don't put in any effort or appreciate conservative or sophisticated fashion, which is why for me the 20s are one of my favourite era's. How you dressed reflected the care and quality you wanted to present to the world. With it's gangsters, recession, recovery from war, it was certainly an interesting time to be alive.