Women's Fashion in the 1920s

Candace Lehman, Anne Butler
  • Author
    Candace Lehman

    Candace Lehman has taught all subject areas in 4th and 5th grade for over 12 years. She has a Bachelors of Science in Elementary Education from Missouri State University. She holds a lifetime teaching certificate in the state of Missouri for Birth-6th Grade.

  • Instructor
    Anne Butler

    Anne has a bachelor's in K-12 art education and a master's in visual art and design. She currently works at a living history museum in Colorado.

How did people dress in the 20s? Learn about men's and women's 1920s clothing styles and how the historical context impacted the roaring 1920s fashion. Updated: 07/07/2021

Table of Contents

Show

1920s Fashion History

The 1920s was an era of significant changes in lifestyle and in culture. The end of WWI saw an economic boom worldwide. This time in history is often referred to as the Roaring Twenties, in North America, the Golden Age (in Europe), and Annees folles or Crazy Years (in France). The 1920s was the era of new cars, household electricity and telephones, jazz bands, growing cities, women in the workforce, the rise of consumer culture, and unprecedented economic growth.

Fashion styles changed drastically in the 1920s.

1920s Style

Sexual norms, gender roles, hair styles, and skirt length all changed drastically in the 1920s. Younger generations rebelled against their parents' Victorian style and moved into a more Art Deco, relaxed, and comfortable style. Some historians say the 1920s was a revolution in morals and manners.

The 1920s fashion trends evolved for many cultural reasons. The boom in the economy allowed more people to obtain luxury products that they saw worn by movie stars and sports celebrities of the time. The youth of the 1920s rebelled from the uncomfortable, conservative, and restrictive styles of their past. They needed a more relaxed and comfortable style to fit their active lifestyles.

The Roaring Twenties era lasted from the end of WWI in 1918 until the stock market crash in October 1929.

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Rococo Fashion: History, Period & Terms

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
 Replay
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:04 1920s Fashion
  • 1:13 1920s Fashion Trendsetters
  • 1:50 1920s Fashion Styles
  • 2:51 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Timeline
Autoplay
Autoplay
Speed Speed

1920s Fashion Trends

How did people dress in the 1920s? The most notable roaring 1920s fashion trend for women was the flapper style. However, 1920 fashion history includes many style changes. Many people experienced prosperity after the war and made a shift to buying ready-to-wear clothing that were both simple and casual.

The 'flapper' style emerged in the 1920s. Women who were considered flappers wore knee length skirt hems and had bobbed hair styles with a Marcel wave. The Marcel wave was a fashionable wave in the hair created with hot curling irons.

What did men wear in the 1920s? The men of the 1920s also experienced the change of formal wear, such as suits and ties, to more comfortable athletic wear.

Fashion Designers and Influencers

Important 1920s fashion designers and influencers included:

  • Gabrielle (Coco) Chanel
  • Jeanne Lanvin
  • Elsa Schiaparelli
  • Sonia Delaunay
  • Hilda Steward

Fashion Forward Cities

The most fashion forward cities of the 1920s were:

  • New York
  • Chicago
  • Paris
  • Berlin
  • London

Women's Dresses

The flapper style was a popular style of women in the 1920s.

1920s fashion trends

Everyday dresses for most women were casual and typically homemade. House dresses, or day dresses, were loose, pullover, tubular style dresses with a dropped waist and shorter hemline. They were made with colorful prints, such as gingham, plaids, or stripes. By the end of the 1920s, women were wearing day dresses all day long either at home or in the workforce.

Women wore formal style dresses for special occasions. Some formal dresses were ankle length, but most styles followed the shorter hem of the popular day dresses. In warmer weather ladies wore elegant dresses made of sheer, layered fabrics in light colors. They would cover dresses with a fashionable shawl or fur coat even in summer months. The more flamboyant night life ladies wore a flapper style dress that could include beading, sequence, and metallic threads.

Women's Separates: Skirts, Tops, Jackets, and Coats

Women's separates included skirts, tops, jackets, coats, and accessories.

  • Women sometimes wore a "middy" style top, which was a sailor inspired casual dress or blouse. Menswear also inspired button down loose fitting blouses. Women wore these tops with pleated knee length skirts or a more risky choice of wide-legged chiffon trousers.
  • The skirt style of the 1920s was a straight pencil skirt, however flair skirts were also popular. The hem of most skirts was knee length or just above the knee. The waist of skirts were still low and the form was narrow and drooping.
  • Separate seater and skirt combinations were also popular.
  • Women would often wear feather boas, beaded capes, fur stoles, or fringe shawls were used to cover shoulders and add warmth in a very dramatic way.
  • Jackets were blocky with narrow lapels so that they could be buttoned high on the neck. They were typically loose fitting and tied with a belt.
  • Coats were considered a woman's prized possession in the 1920s. Fur coats were all the rage and all women sought to own at least one. The most popular of coats had a fur collar, while more desirable coats were full fur with silk lining. Coats were worn all year long and served as a status symbol of ones monetary wealth.

Women's Casual Wear

Casual wear in the 1920s followed the athletic styles of golfers and tennis players.

1920s Fashion

Women of the 1920s had a considerably more active lifestyle than in the past. For the first time in history, a suntanned look became more popular than a pale complexion.

Sports celebrities were very popular in the 1920s, especially tennis and golf athletes. Many fashion designers of the time reflected the style of athletic clothing into every day clothing for both men and women. A popular style was the sleeveless tennis dress that women wore both on and off the court.

Women's Shoes

The Oxford was a popular women's shoe of the 1920s and would remain a popular shoe until the late 1940s. The Oxford is a black and white leather lace-up shoe with a low heel. This was a very practical everyday shoe.

Dainty T-strap shoes were worn with more formal attire. They could be found in silver, gold, or black and often had embellishments such as jewels along the strap or on the heel. They could have up to a two inch blocky heel.

Women's Hats and Accessories

It was a cultural norm for women to wear a hat in public. Women wore hats of many styles during the 1920s.

Hat Type Description
Outdoor activity hats Wide brim straw hats trimmed with ribbon or flowers
Formal night wear Turbans or burets
Tam O'Shanter A flat one piece wool bonnet
Cloche Close fitting hat with a narrow brim often banded with large ribbons, bows, or embroidery

The cloche was the most popular hat for women in the 1920s.

1920s fashion women

Women also wore many accessories to enhance their overall look.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Frequently Asked Questions

What were the fashion trends of the 1920s?

The fashion trends of the 1920s were more casual and relaxed. Women often wore knee length tubular day dresses and men often wore knickerbockers with sweater vests. The flapper style for women and the zoot suits for men were also popular in the 1920s.

What influenced 1920s fashion?

The fashion of the 1920s was influenced by the economic boom after WWI and prohibition/jazz era. Men and women lived a more active lifestyle after the war and needed a wardrobe to match their new way of life.

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Try it now
Create an account to start this course today
Used by over 30 million students worldwide
Create an account