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The 1920s was the first decade of the modern era and especially the start of a new era for women and women’s fashion. Women gained more freedom such as, the right to vote, more job opportunities, and more social interactions, which gave women the allowance for a bigger impact on culture. Maria Scinto states, “women adopted new fashions that permitted them more freedom of movement than the tight-laced Victorian and Edwardian garments they had previously worn.” (Scinto). Women wanted to stray from the old dresses, accessories, hairstyles, and altogether look that society gave them.
This innovation led people to better express themselves in their clothes, make up, and even hairstyles they wore, for anyone.
Women’s fashion before the 1920s was very different compared to after the changes made in this era. For example, they had to wear tight fitted circlets around their waists measuring no more than 20 inches, their bodies were shaped to the letter S due to the silhouette.
They wore high necked, usually long sleeved, suited jackets with very long skirts and changed multiple times in the day from breakfast, to lunch, to dinner, to bed, etc.
The hairstyles for women at that time were very long and poofy, usually in a bun on the top of their head or behind, or in a braid going down their back, with big hats. Women becoming more engaged in society and having more freedom allowed them to use it to change the way they looked as a whole. They started cutting their hair into a “bob” which is above the neck, short hair, almost like a boy’s haircut.
In that time period, cutting your hair was a big deal because “long hair was considered feminine and short hair was not” (Sessions). Women were criticized for the new way they wore their hair because it symbolized a mixture between man and woman.
In another area of women’s fashion, body clothing, many different changes were happening. Skirts were becoming shorter, going from ankle length to right below knee cap length, and wore short, straight down, non-fitted dresses, rather than tight corsets. “Flappers” were women who wore beaded short dresses and had short hair. They also smoke and drank in public places. These women were the inspiration for the new look, style, and personality of every woman. They would wear simple dresses and add their own style to it such as, buttons on the side, wearing a belt, and adding bows and jewels on it. These little changes inspired others to put personal touches on their clothes.
Both men and women changed their clothes throughout different times of the day. While at home with family and doing chores around the house, the clothing was made to be much more comfortable. Women wore a loose cotton dress, stockings, and low heels. When they leave the house to run errands they change into another outfit that is more presentable known as a “walking suit”. A “walking suit” was higher quality fabric than what they would wear around the house, and T-Strap heels. In the 1920s they didn’t really have a “dress your best” outfit for church unless you were pore, “Otherwise, whatever she wore for streetwear she also wore to church as long as it was modest with long sleeves and a below the knee hemline. If a sleeveless dress was worn a light shawl, wrap or jacket acted as a light coverup” (Sessions). The dress attire was much more simple than before 1920s, adding jewelry, hats, and a purse to their outfits was also allowed now to add more personality to their outfits throughout the day.
Women always had a hat on on their head whenever they left the house. Like the outfit changes throughout the day, there were different hats for the seasons, Sessions says, “There were hats for summer (woven straw, cotton) and winter (felt or hand sewn cloche hats). (Sessions). The most popular hat was the cloche, also meaning a “bell” because of its shape. The hats were very different in the 1920s, Scinto explains, “Hats in the 1920s were much smaller and less elaborate than those popular in previous decades” (Scinto). The bigger hats hid more of the women’s faces and in that era they could show more of their face, or just stray from the same hats they always wore by adding accessories on the smaller “bell” hats.
The 1920s fashion change was the time fashion changed in all different aspects, in any style. This era has impacted today’s society and especially today’s fashion tremendously. Women’s rights changed during that time period and influenced them to change how they dressed and how their hair looked. This gave them the ability to express themselves more than ever before. The aftermath of these changes are seen throughout the world today by the huge culture of women’s fashion throughout the world, and its popular impact. All of these changes are the result of the roaring twenties movement and are still seen in fashion today.
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