The 1920s era was one of such tremendous social change and wild experimentation in art, music and fashion that it is hard to imagine that kind of drastic change continuing for very long. Indeed, if anything could bring the eccentricity of the 1920s to a screeching halt, it was the Great Depression that arrived in the 1930s. For one thing, people were feeling much less frivolous when they were enduring the worst economic collapse in the nation’s history.
But perhaps a bigger impact was that people simply no longer could afford exotic fashions in clothing that were purchased just to look snazzy on a night on the town. Fashion designers were aware of this dramatic shift in fashion trends in the 1920s and they returned to a more basic style of design for women’s clothing for that decade.
While women’s fashions prior to the 1930s became bold, sometimes androgynous and notably daring, that approach to women’s fashion in the 1930s changed. But the fashions of the 1930s did retain a romanticized image of the woman’s shape and that was reflected in the fashions of the time. Many of the experimental changes of the 1920s were corrected. For example, the waistline that was defined by a fashionable 1930s woman’s outfit was where it should be on the body rather than shifted lower. Similarly, the skirt length became longer which was a reverse of the 1920s approach to fashion which flaunted social convention with what was shockingly short skirts for the time.
What was positive about 1930s fashion trends was the emphasis on the woman’s body as a feminine thing of beauty. The bust line was emphasized after years of being suppressed due to the androgynous styles of the 1920s. Evening gowns were backless in the 1930s, which recreated eveningwear as both attractive and elegant. It was also in style to be healthy and for a woman to show off her toned down body. However, what also came along with this emphasis on being skinny was the use of the corset to create the fashionable look of being slim even if the woman herself didn’t have that shape. Because of the renewed emphasis on healthy living, sporty wear in 1930s fashion became quite popular.
Two fashion designers that found the perfect blend of innovation in 1930s fashion design but doing so within boundaries were Madeleine Vionnet and Elsa Schiaparelli. Both of these designers created memorable fashions that were in step with 1930s concepts of what looks good. The knitted white bow that was a hallmark of 1930s women’s fashion was a creation of Elsa Schiaparelli. These 1930s designers also made fashions that were helpful to women in the workplace such as a woman’s suit that even had pockets that looked like drawers.
The decade was well known for creativity and style and that approach to 1930s fashion was contributed to by Vionnet who drew fashion ideas from statues of the ancient Greeks. Vionnet was a designer that became quite popular in the 1930s because of the use of stylish and flowing lines in the dresses that they produced. These styles fit with the mood of the times to continue the trend toward 1930s fashions that asserted the independence of women but did so while emphasizing creativity, femininity and beauty. Small wonder 1930s fashion styles started trends that have been repeated often since that era.