As milliners our passion is not only for present day styles, but also for the period from the 1920’s to 1950’s.
1920’s Style Guide
During the 1920’s the fashion for ladies changed. It was a period of optimism. The first world war had changed so many people’s lives in all sectors of society and women finally had freedom. This was reflected greatly in fashion.
1920’s Ladies Hats
Although the cloche hat was designed by French milliner Caroline Reboux in 1908, it became popular in the 1920’s and was in fashion until the early 1930’s. The name of this style is derived from the French word meaning bell which appropriately describes the shape of the hat.
Cloche hats were generally made from felt. The blocking of the hat was such that it conformed comfortably to the head. They were designed to sit low on the forehead frequently with the eyes only just below the brim.
Photography: Photographer: Mia Mercifi, Model – Sofia Kleshcheva
For evening wear cloches were often made of lace or heavily beaded fabric, these were worn to cocktail parties, or for dancing some even for bridal wear.
Whilst the day time cloches were often plain those which were designed with the influence of Art Deco were decorated with embroidery, jewellery, feathers or brooches. Later in the 1920’s it was fashionable to have an upturned brim.
It is not quite certain where turbans originated. Some believe it was Persia other think it was designed by the Egyptians.
The Flappers during the 1920’s looked upon the turban as a perfect hat, head covering, to compliment their outfits. The Flappers would wear their turbans both during the day and to their evening events where they would dance the night away. Day turbans and those worn in the evening were often quite different. The evening designs sometimes were embellished with jewellery or feathers. The feathers were generally ostrich and they were used frequently to adorn many the headpieces of the day.
The turban was a perfect design to wear with the short hair cuts of the period.
During the 1920’s the Flappers were noted for wearing decorated headbands, headdresses and highly jewelled hair combs. Many of the headbands were decorated with ostrich feathers.
The headbands also known as Bandeaus, were worn with evening and formal dresses. The trend started when King Tut’s tomb was discovered in 1924. During this time women wanted to look like and Egyptian Queen hence the importance of jewellery and elaborate hear wear.
In essence the accessories worn during the 1920’s were an essential part of any outfit. Ladies would accessorise to match their suit or dress, whereas their outfits would generally be kept simple.
The principal idea was that jewellery was not bold, hats were embellished, and bags and purses were no longer large.
During the 1920’s jewellery was quite elegant more natural and less elaborate. The Art Nouveau movement founded 30 years earlier inspired the natural forms and geometric shapes of the 20s. Clean lines were inspired by the industrial machines of the era as well as the contrasting textures and colours which were in fashion.
Diamonds, onyx, amethysts, opaque coral, and jade were the stones of the day. The long pearl necklaces, along side it’s faux copy which was widely sold everywhere as it was the inexpensive version, were signature pieces of jewellery. A ladies wardrobe was not complete without this necklace, it was a basic necessity. They adorned the elegant fashion dresses of the day.
After the long dresses prior to the 1920’s where footwear was not seen, the shoes were now no longer covered by the ladies dresses. Shoes now played an important part of an outfit as they became very visible.
Ladies shoes were now designed to wear to all types of occasions and event, the styles included day shoes, walking shoes, shoes worn for sporting activities and the all important dancing shoes. With the different designs of footwear, as the demand for stylish shoes grew, the shoe industry blossomed.
The ‘Bar Shoes’ or ‘Mary Jane Shoes’, were designed during the 20’s and are still worn today. They fastened with a single strap and button and had a small heal and became a very popular design to be worn with the shorter skirt. This was also the perfect design for dancing.
Small beaded handbags were fashionable during this period. They were only just large enough to hold a limited amount of items, usually included was a small compact and a cigarette case.
Stockings would have had back seams.
1920’s Men’s Evening Attire
During the 1920’s not only was there a change in ladies evening wear, for men there was also a change in their attire.
Jackets and Trousers
The tail coats that were worn previously to parties, the theatre and opera, were placed by many of the the younger generation with the tuxedo jacket, also known as a dinner jacket. These would be worn with matching narrow legged trousers, which were high waisted and came to sit at the natural waist. Satin stripes ran down each side of the leg. Frequently the length of the trouser was sorter than usual showing off the socks even when standing.
Shirts, Waistcoats and Accessories
The shirts which were worn were crisp and white made from a thick starched cotton or silk. A white dress shirt with bib front was very formal. Shirt studs were replaced with smart cufflinks on the upturned French cuffs.
Waistcoats completed the outfit. These were made from beautiful fabrics which included silk, brocade and satin. The waist coats were single breasted during the majority of this period although, double breasted waistcoats were introduced in the later part of the 1920’s.
A silk bow tie or tie was the order of the day. For extra elegance a matching silk scarf was tucked into the jacket breast pocket. White kid gloves and black patent leather shoes completed the outfit.
Top hats were the formal hat of the period for evening wear as they had been for many years previously. Top hats were made from either silk or beaver fur and made a very elegant statement. Gentlemen would have their top hats made to order. During the 20’s top hat makers. hatters, were situated in all the major towns and cities. Head sizes have grown since this period, whilst vintage top hats are fairly easily sourced, they tend not to fit the average present day head size.
The collapsible top hat was designed for wearing to the opera.