Fashion through the decades: 20s & 30s

Flapper Fashion - 1920s

Fay wray - actress and flapper girl

Fay wray - actress and flapper girl

Before the likes of Katharine Hepburn and Bette Davis who brought us the iconic 1930s fashion styles, there were the super chic (and now very well known) styles of the roaring twenties. From the ultra-glam flapper girls to the first waves of cool androgyny, 1920s fashion was all about liberation, finally being able to try new things while having a lot of fun in the process.

After WW1, things loosened up (literally) when it came to ladies fashion - the corsets came off, skirts got shorter and thanks to one particular fashion legend, Coco Chanel, trousers for women were acceptable for the very first time! Fashion is eternally grateful to Mademoiselle Coco Chanel for so many definitive 1920s fashion styles, and some of the greatest fashion ‘inventions’ still to this day, for example; the little black dress, skirt suit, costume jewellery, espadrilles… But her greatest, most overarching influence? It has ot be the liberation of women’s clothing and the concept of ‘casual chic’ in the 1920s. Chanel led the trend for a flatter, corset-free bust, a streamlined silhouette with no hyper-waistline and as we already mentioned, she popularised trousers for women… So next time you let you are feeling bloated or just want to through on something loose fitting and baggy, you can aim your thanks to this woman.

Moving on to another iconic 20s style…

When it came to popular materials in the 20s, for evening dresses most were made of fine fabrics like silk, chiffon, taffeta and light velvet. They were usually sleeveless for young women and long sleeves for older women. Own anything with a dropped waist? You can thank the 20s for this iconic feature along with layers/tiers of fabric creating some fullness from the waist down. For those wanting to stand out and be more glamorous than the rest (basically anyone with good money) Beaded dresses were the way to go. Although everyone often thinks fringing and metal sequins when it comes to flapper dresses, this was actually quite rare. We often also think of these dresses as being short but this too is a myth! Real flappers wore knee-length or longer gowns that swished and swayed white dancing to jazz.

1930s

ration-fashion-the-feedsack-dress.jpg

Although the 1930s is remembered as a time of economic struggle, 30s fashion was an era of revolutionary style thanks to advancements in clothing production and the popularity of Hollywood cinema. As well as Great Depression (which began with the stock market crash in ‘29) causing an increase in the resourcefulness of ‘day wear’ fashion, as women could no longer afford to change outfits from day to night as the may have done before.

Advancements in technology also began the following following trends we still widely use today such as zippers as fasteners, fitted bras with cups and the bias cut method (a process of cutting material at a 45 degree angle so that it clung to the body.)

30s KEY ITEM: A “feedsack” dress, which as the name suggests, is a ladies dress made using the material from a sack of animal feed. (Bags from flour were also used!)

HISTORY BEHIND THIS ITEM:  Although the trend of the feedsack dress actually began in the ’20s when resourceful women realised they could upcycle the material used for the sacks to make clothing for themselves and their family, the trend grew rapidly due to economical necessity during the Depression era (30s). It didn’t take long for those in the animal feed industry to catch on to this ‘fashion’ trend, and competing companies released floral patterned sacks for women along with novelty prints such as animals, clowns, etc sacks for dresses made for the children. This led women requesting their husbands to buy the more ‘stylish’ feedsacks with their final outfit in mind.


Sew Vintage - [Guest Blog]

Hey! My name is Dominic, I’m 21 years old and am currently studying at Strathclyde and work part-time in retail. This means, like a lot of people my age, money doesn’t spend a lot of time in my bank account. Whether its rent, travel or groceries - young adults are always having to budget and save money where it’s possible, and in my case I tend to save money on clothing. Up until recently, I was on the lookout for fashion sales in high-street stores or online retail platforms, however my foreign study semester in 2017 changed this mind-set; I found myself studying in a university in Malta, a country with limited retail options and expensive delivery charges. I decided to try vintage stores and charity shops to save money, and fell in love with the idea. Not only did I find clothes at a fair price, but the style and culture behind the recycled fashion experience allowed me to better express myself in an environment that was new to me. It was an activity that encouraged me to explore different areas of the country in an exciting hunt for outfits unique to me, all the while saving money and meeting new people doing the same thing. In a world where sustainability and reusing is more important than ever, it helped me feel like I was doing my part in reducing my carbon footprint as well as giving time and money to those who require it most, rather than multi-million companies where all you are to them is an order number.

I kept this mind-set when I came back home at the end of 2017, and made my resolution for the New Year to only buy clothes that have been used and loved before. Luckily for me, there is no better place to do this than in Glasgow! I have a love for retro looks, so I found myself at vintage kilo fairs more than I’m willing to admit. It is never a dull place to be and some of the clothes that I found were one of a kind. From jackets to footwear, there is something for everyone when you look hard enough. I always go and check out a charity shop whenever I walk by one, and Glasgow have so many to offer. The West End and City Centre provide a great variety to choose from, with a Bernardos in Merchant City being my favourite. The Glasgow outskirts are always fun to travel to as well, such as local charities in Giffnock and Inverclyde. You would be surprised how often new items come in to charity shops, and that’s what entices me the most. I manage to find a new outfit once a week usually, and never spend more than £15 in total. There are always big-brand items as well (some I’ve found include Ralph Lauren and AllSaints, as well as retail brands like River Island and Zara) which are always in pristine condition, with designs that make others turn heads. Some other items you find in charity shops would surprise you; things like bags I use for university, kilts and formal attire, sportswear and retro football shirts are just a few which might catch your eye.

And that’s what I would say to anyone that might be sceptical about shopping in charity or vintage shops; what is the worst that can happen? I have loved every second of my resolution and plan to continue it in to 2019. I even plan to learn some sewing skills, to help with mending and upcycling items I find to make them even more unique! It excites me to know that you won’t bump into anyone who shares the same clothes as you do, and you ultimately get to wear the unique clothes that define you at a fraction of the cost you might think, all whilst contributing to inspiring and meaningful causes. When someone asks me where I got something that I’m wearing, I take pride in telling them, “Vintage Shop, mate”.