Written by Tim Nash
History - The 1920s
In any era, fashion is a reflection of the times and what is going on in the culture politically, socially and economically. That influence is very evident in how post World War II society and the way culture was reacting to the new world they were living in was reflected in 1920s fashions at all levels of society.
The 1920s represented a time of tremendous social change, which was reflected in fashion as well. For women, short bobs because fashionable as did shorter skirts such as pinafores that would never have been allowed in previous decades. There was a certain androgynous look to women's fashion that borrowed from men's clothing liberally. Forward thinking designers like Coco Chanel and Jean Patou made sportswear fashionable as well as functional.
The designs of Coco Chanel were so foreword thinking that they have resonated down through the decades even to today. The bob hairstyle which Chanel innovated has returned to fashion often since its 1920s premiers. Other styles such as the small black dress, the jersey knit and a more flamboyant use of knitwear and jewelry were fashions that Chanel was able to launch in the 1920s.
Jeanne Lanvin is another 1920s fashion designer who had a big impact on the way fashion evolved in this pivotal decade. Lanvin brought into style the elaborate decorations and embroideries that we associate with 1920s fashion. These fashion statements were not limited to just women's evening wear. As the 1920s decade wore on, Lanvin's impact on fashion had made itself evident even in lingerie, sportswear and men's fashion as well.
If you reflect on 1920s fashion, there was a feeling of eccentricity and originality in fashion that is one of the reasons we associate the 1920s with exciting changes in culture. The movies and books we associate with those times often reflect a time of an explosion of frivolity and a certain amount of wild behavior in entertainment and nightlife. 1920s fashion very much fit in to those cultural changes. Jean Patou was a designer who pushed the envelope a great deal in creating exciting, fun and original outfits for women. The garments designed by Patou wearer both practical so they would hold up for a full night on the town but exciting to look at and luxurious as well.
1920s men's fashion also became much more modern, hip and interesting. The trends toward relaxing wear that was designed for youth took over 1920s men's fashions. Men in the 1920s started wearing suit jackets that were short. Pants, sweaters and tuxedo designs were similarly short and trendy. These styles fit in well with a changing culture and a time where the emphasis was on fun and excitement. And womens the fashion designers of the 1920s knew how to oblige.
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