The 1930's played host to some important historical events such as the great economic crises and the interwar period, which had a great impact on the fashion and clothing trends that became popular during this time.
Women in Hollywood also became very influential, both on and off the screen in terms of popular clothing and the hottest new look. These Hollywood actors and artists were responsible for the fashion that made fox skins, the new popular neckline look, feathers and see through evening wear popular, amongst other garments.
History of 1930s fashion
The decade of the 1930s was marked by a global economic crisis, caused by the crash of the New York Stock Exchange at the end of the 1920s, (the crash of 29), which affected all areas of life, including the world of fashion.
Neutral colours were in style and cheaper fashion wear was being manufactured thanks to the use of synthetic fibres. Artificial silk or nylon were much more affordable materials at this time, allowing vintage fashion to reach all spheres of society.
Likewise, it became common for women to wear trousers for the first time and the style of dress in vintage period became related to necessity. It became normal to wear new, homemade clothing.
Hollywood women such as Mae West or Greta Garbo however were responsible for the style that triumphed in the 1930s. Although the life that their characters led did not correspond to reality, they became great style role models.
Trend-setting style Icons
Fashion designers such as Travis Banton, creator of the image of Marlene Dietrich, and Mainbocher, designer of Wallis Simpson's wedding dress for her wedding with The Prince of Wales, Edward VIII, were present at the social events of the moment becoming icons of haute couture and 30's fashion including both day and evening wear.
Brands such as Coco Chanel achieved great success during this era of great American glamor when they were hired exclusively to dress the most famous Hollywood stars.
Madeleine Vionnet introduced the bias cut dress in this decade, a technique that involved using fabric diagonally to avoid seams.
Lucien Lelong was another of the designers who caused a sensation. His models wore flared skirts with a fitted waist. This type of dress classified was an extravagant and frivolous since this vintage "new look" required a lot of investment in fabric, an economic luxury that few could afford in the 1930s.
Characteristics of 1930s fashion
The origin of women's trousers arose from the change in the role that women had to assume after the start of the First World War when they began to work in factories whilst their husbands were at war.
The first trousers designed exclusively for women in the 1930's became very popular and fashionable, since until then women had to dress in trousers belonging to their husbands.
The success of the culottes
Elsa Schiaparelli introduced this garment this look to women's wardrobe and achieved great success with the design of the culottes she made for the tennis player Lilí Álvarez for the Roland Garros in Paris in 1931. This vintage cut was very controversial at the time.
The designers of the time renounced volume and created straighter, evening dresses, known as “skeleton dresses”. Goodbye to luxurious embroidery and cheaper fabrics such as satin were used. On the other hand, the day dresses, or casual dresses that became most successful were knitted ones.
Necklines and bare backs
The sensuality was marked by the cut of the pronounced neckline in dresses and blouses with completely exposed backs. Also, the sandals were thin and revealed the woman's toes, something that was also considered quite risque.
Hats and haircuts
Large, extravagant, shoe-shaped hats inspired by surreal artists like the one Dalí transmitted were a great success. The style of women's hair was also much longer than that of the 20s.
Men's fashion in the 30's
In the late 1920s men gained a keen interest in dressing well. This trend continued into the 1930s despite the economic situation. However, the way men would dress in this era are was much more sober, often in a dark, well cut suit.
Athletic silhouettes inspired by the military rank was the most sought after by the man of that time. Men began to dress in jackets with shoulder pads to convey that athletic masculine look. The lapels of the suit had were wide with large square pockets.
Anything that added volume to the upper part of the male body became a well-accepted fashion for men in the 30s.