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How Did Women's Fashions Change in the 1920's

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The first short skirt sounded the death knell of the haute couture era [Skirt length reached its lowest point in 1923 (1920s Fashions for Women)] and ushered in the modern era of fashion which conceived the idea of erotic beauty. The transformation of a woman from being an object of beauty to become a futurist machine was kick-started. ‘ Chic’ became a vogue word. And there was no looking back. So we see the cumbersome Victorian clothing gradually losing ground. Crinolines, rear-enhancing bustles, and restrictive corsets passed into oblivion, thankfully causing a steep decline in the incidence of ptosis.

Lighter, brighter and daringly shorter dresses, straight-line chemises, Nemo-flex brassieres, sleek, masculine or boyish look, flat chests with bandeaus, shingle cut and Bubikopf or the bob cut (popularized by actress Louise Brookes) formed the order of the day. The Basque dress or Robe de Style which clubbed the features of straight silhouette and the belled skirt was very popular. Makeup, in particular, was another ‘ shocking’ development. Rising hemlines of the flappers, who characterized the revolutionary spirit of the typical jazz age woman, made dancing the Charleston, for instance to a tune of Duke Ellington or to the frenetic sounds of Bix Beiderbecke, easier.

Lightweight undergarments made it easier to play sport and drive automobiles. The Women’ s Fashion Institute designed the ‘ one hour dress’ in 1926 (Flapper Fashion). For the first time in history, pleats, gathers, and slits ruled women’ s fashion, liberating women from constricting clothes, though the Great Depression, for a while, brought about a roll-back towards conservative wear (The History of 20th Century Women’ s Clothing). The popular curves of the erstwhile generation were given up.

Beaded belts, bracelets, and necklaces complemented pretty handbags and purses (1920s Fashions for Women). Beads were used extensively in all kinds of accessories. Jewelry designs were inspired by nature and simple geometric shapes.

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