Monday, April 8, 2013

Ladies dresses in the 1920s

Ladies' dresses in the 1920s

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Throughout the 1920s, some of the most recognizable features of dresses were higher hemlines and lowered waistlines. The decade's new silhouettes didn't require wearing corsets, and these less-fitted styles made sewing at home much faster than in preceding decades. While flapper dresses have captured the American imagination as the defining style of the '20s, many of its features -- elaborate decoration, boyish fits, and the appearance of shorter skirts -- were popular among most women of the era.

  1. Fringed Dresses

    • Fringed dresses were popular with flappers for nights out.

      The fringed dress is the archetype of 1920s women's style, and was perfectly suited to the jazz clubs that flappers frequented- in addition to providing decoration, the fringe would move and sway while dancing. Eve M. Kahn writes in the April 14, 2011, edition of "The New York Times" that this style was closely tied to the drinking culture of the time. These dresses were generally mid-thigh length -- still scandalously short for the time -- and were made with straight profiles to create a boyish silhouette. According to the September 1921 issue of "Vanity Fair," this look was accompanied by bright red lips and a mischievous attitude.

    The Little Black Dress

    • The 1920s saw the first of the now-classic Little Black Dresses.

      Today, the Little Black Dress is a staple of women's wardrobes, but the concept didn't exist until 1926, the year that Coco Chanel created the first short, black dress considered versatile and flattering for many women. A fashion plate of the design in the October 1, 1926, issue of "Vogue" -- mid-calf length, long-sleeved, and adorned with just a few simple diagonal seams -- was published with a caption calling it the "Ford," referring to the Model T, of dresses: appropriate for all. Before the 1920s, black was generally considered a color of mourning, but this signaled a shift to black as elegant evening wear.

    The One Hour Dress

    • Simple silhouettes were stylish and easy to sew.

      Simple, straight silhouettes allowed home dressmakers to create stylish wardrobes in a snap. The concept of the "One Hour Dress" was started by the Women's Fashion Institute with the release of the pattern in 1926-- the same year as Chanel's LBD -- and reflected the freedom that women gained in this time period. Not only could they make their clothes in less time, but they could also get dressed and ready more quickly, without the need for complicated support garments. This dress style was straight, simple and contained few seams, but fit neatly into the mode of the day.

    The Basque Dress

    • Basque dresses, with extremely low waists and long, full skirts, were very popular in the early 1920s.

      In "Lanvin," Dean Merceron, Alber Elbaz and Harold Koda write that French fashion designer Jeanne-Marie Lanvinin popularized the "Basque Dress" in the early 1920s. Also referred to as "Robe de Style," it was characterized by a straight-silhouetted bodice attached to a long and voluminous skirt. This style was most popular in the early 1920s, and signaled the shift in the overall shape of women's dresses before hemlines shot up. Though longer than many later styles of the decade, the Basque Dress is still very recognizably of the '20s.


Tags: Basque Dress, dresses were, early 1920s, Little Black, Black Dress