1/07/2012

political and social influences on fashion in the 1930's

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Here is an outline of the varying factors that influenced what was fashionable and what people wore in the 10’s.


Political and social influences


World happenings the Wall Street crash had a huge direct affect on what people wore in the 10’s. Following this, even though it was in America it caused the way of dressing in Australia to become more conservative but feminine as it used to be before the roaring 0’s. Hemlines dropped to mid-calf for day wear and full length for evening. The waist line moved back to the waist, the mature feminine look was in. Men’s dress also became less youthful and more masculine, they were sharper edged and had noticeable shoulder pads.


The Wall Street crash meant that most people turned to movies as relief from the depression. As result, what actors and famous people wore greatly affected what was fashionable and therefore what people wore. People wanted to look like the movie stars especially in the way of evening gowns.


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Shirley temple this particular young actress was greatly looked up to. She was the perfect example of what children wore in the 10’s. Parents would intentionally copy her and dress their children in what she wore. Shirley temple’s dresses were made available in dress making books like ‘McCall’s’.


End of World War 1 At the end of the First World War women were sewing much more as it was cheaper (this was desirable because women were more conservative and in the depression there was little money for clothes) women would often simply copy all the clothes that they saw in movies or in the shops. Clothing was mended or patched before it was replaced even though styles were rapidly changing.


Social the American influence was potent in the 10’s. Designers from over there brought with them daring bright colours and patterns that Australians had never seen before. Designers and manufacturers would visit other countries, including America, -4 times a year to keep updated with the recent fashions there.


Some of the influential designers were; Paris based Elsa Schiaparelli was the Italian designer who brought the sweater into high fashion. She was famous for the extravagance of her clothes. She widened the shoulders even more with anything from pads to gathers and braids. She brought in the intense colours (eg ‘shocking pink’) and over sized buttons. At the other end of the scale there was Russian born Valentina who dressed elegant women in simple dresses with a beautiful cut. Getting right away from the prior fussiness.





Historical influences





Leisure time in this decade sportswear took a different turn from the usual feminine soft look of the typical day and evening wear. The sportswear became more masculine, sports suits, leather jackets and mid slacks became popular. But through most of the decade women still had to wear mid calf dresses. For leisure in the afternoon tennis, cricket, horse riding, picnics and basically creating their own fun was common as there was no T.V. computers or ready made games available. Therefore in the afternoon women would wear soft flowing mid-calf dresses that were all the same, very tailored. In the evening there was a transformation. Many evenings were spent in entertainment like, plays, cards, performances, dancing etc, so a more formal look was required. The dresses almost always dropped down to full length. To give it the dressier look they would be more fitted and would often have frills and bows to decorate.


On a customs level this age was still a very modest one despite the fact the women dressed so elegantly and femininely. Swimming was popular but due to these traditions there were many regulations for swimming. The swimming costume was still neck to knee for most of the decade. Nearing the end of the decade though, sun bathing was ‘in’ so the suits became a little less substantial, the three piece was introduced and was known as ‘separates’ On a technological note, the materials we use today for swimming costumes were not invented back then so they were mostly made out of cotton, sometimes wool. They were also not tight but were loose and sat rather like clothes.


Because there were so many different pass times and leisure activities to be involved in at different times of the day, there was a dress and particular style for every occasion and. It was very important for the women of the time to be wearing just the right dress. Social gatherings were a huge part of life. Here is a cartoon which strongly boasts this area of fashion and especially shows the impact that women wearing pants had. As, in this decade, women did wear pants, especially mid-calf, when the right occasion called for it.








Technological influences





The first openly synthetic fibres were developed and available in the 10’s. Prior to this there was only manufactured fibres that were developed to improve natural fibres. In 15 the Du Pont de Nemours Company successfully synthesized nylon. As a result, nylon stockings were introduced into fashion solidly by 1 but its use was interrupted by World War . Wide use of this synthetic fibre wasn’t seen until after WW.


As written in the historical influences the synthetic fibres for swimming costumes were not yet available so bathing suits were made of cotton and loosely fitted.


Hair styles changed thanks to the availability of permanent ‘Marcel waves’ this new invention was very popular.


1 was seen as the beginning of the chemical age. A woman could easily and often did wear nothing but artificial materials from head to foot. So it was easy for a woman to be wearing; a cellophane hat, rayon dress and gloves to plastic pearls and bracelet, patent leather shoes with plastic heels, and a handbag with ‘Lucite’ plastic frame. Here is a report that was written on this subject at the time


CHEMISTS MAKE A


NEW WORLD


By Frederick Simpich


(From an article in The National Geographic Magazine, November 1


Photographs by Willard R. Culver


Copyright National Geographic Society 1)


At a New York fashion show, we saw a girl clad from head to foot in artificial materials. Everything she wore was made from synthetic stuffs created by chemists.





[A LIVING SYMBOL OF THE CHEMICAL AGE - She wears no silk, wool, linen, cotton, or leather - no jade, ivory or pearls. All is synthetic. From cellophane hat, rayon dress and gloves to plastic pearls and bracelet, patent-leather shoes with plastic heels, and a handbag with Lucite plastic frame, her outfit is all of laboratory origin.]


Her hat was cellophane; her frock was rayon. She wore Nylon stockings and carried a patent-leather handbag and stood in imitation alligator shoes and wore jade bracelets and ivory beads; her parasol handle was from beautifully colored plastic.





[HERE NATURE ONLY SUPPLIED THE GIRLS, THE PLANT LIFE, SEA AND SAND. - In this scene everything else is of artificial, man-made materials. Bathing suits, the beach dress, hat, umbrella, plates, napkins, tablecloth, sun glasses - even the book covers of PX cloth - are made of synthetics.]


Even the faint hint of musk on her imitation silk handkerchief came from a synthetic perfume; on her nails there glistened a synthetic dye, and other coal-tar dyes imparted rich shades to her ensemble.





[TRULY NOW SCIENCE WITH LUSTROUS MAGIC GILDS THE LILY - Thanks to mass production of man-made textiles, women today can be better dressed than ever before, and at less cost. This garment in tango shade is of rayon, which now so largely displaces silk.]


No wool or linen, no silk or cotton, no ivory or jade, not even any leather, figured in her costume. Only the girl herself was natural - natural flesh and bone wrapped in her own waterproof skin.





[FROM COAL, AIR AND WATER, SCIENCE PRODUCES THESE SOFT, DIAPHANOUS STOCKINGS - Known as Nylon, this amazing fabric is not imitation silk, but an entirely new material, developed by du Pont after years of research. Strong, durable, and elastic, it seems destined to have a profound effect on the worlds long-established silk industry.]


There she stood, a startling symbol of this new artificial world risen so fast since the World War. In newspapers, every few days, you read of yet another miracle from this or that great chemical laboratory - wool from milk; alcohol, rubber, and false teeth from gas; licorice from old stamps - or a new way to poison grasshoppers.


10’S FASHION


This is a brief description of the fashion of this decade. You can refer back to the fashion influences written above to see where some of the styles were derived from.


The 0’s was a rapid change from the flapper look of the 0’s. From that boyish look, fashions went back to being very feminine and mature. The hemlines dropped to mid-calf for afternoon dresses and to full length for evening gowns. Dresses were very willowy and soft. Darts disappeared and were replaced with ruffles, waistlines moved back to the waist and were very tailored underneath broad shoulders. Most often achieved by shoulder pads but this effect was also often gained by ruffles, braids, feathers, and gathers. These broad shoulders, slim waists and soft hips all accentuated the female curves. Necklines received a lot of attention. They were lower and often accentuated with ruffled or wide-scallop edged collars.


The evening/formal gown often had the popular empire waist with ties at the back. The dress could boast butterflies, fabric flowers, puffy sleeves, flowers could be placed at the centre of the neckline, to the side, on one shoulder, or at the centre waist and of course bows were another popular accent. Some designers also introduced large buttons, and bright colours. All of these accessories added to the emphasized feminine look.


Women’s sportswear was more masculine than that of the everyday outfit. This is when sports suits and leather jackets and mid slacks became popular.


During this era fur was seen and worn extensively. Sable, mink, chinchilla, Persian lamb and silver fox were all in demand. They were worn as capes, coats, stoles, wraps, accessories and trimmings to clothes during both the day and night.


Hats, unlike in the 0’s were now just an accessory. They were worn at an angle. Pill boxes became popular, turbans emerged and there were also brimmed hats.


Handbags, though, were much like those of the 10’s. Beaded bags were seen extensively as well as enamelled and mesh bags. Leather bags didn’t become popular until nearing the end of the decade. One design that was popular was the three pocket leather bag with a large flap and the owner’s initials on the front.


There was no one kind of shoe which everyone wore in the 0’s. there was a wide range which included rounded toes with wide thick heels, pumps, flat shoes, ankle strap styles with moderate heels, slip on’s and lace up’s.


Skirts in the thirties were very detailed. Yokes were common to give it a V shape. The skirts would hug the hips, minimising them and then often flare out a little to give a flowing look. Layers and ruffles also appeared. The bottom of the skirt could also consist of pleats or gathers.


The corset wasn’t such a necessity it was still there but most boasted no boning. By the late thirties, the separate bra and girdle became acceptable but one piece corsets never ceased being available.


During this decade, men’s suits became much sharper edged with huge shoulder pads.


Hair styles for women became much fuller and longer due to the availability and popularity of the ‘Marcel wave’.





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