Aug 16, 2008

Decade du Jour: The 1920s

I know I skipped 1900 - 1910, but I’ll come back another day. I’m in a 1920s mood.

It’s not a look for everyone. The straight line from bust to hips does nothing for the hourglass girl or even the busty gal with narrow hips. You will notice when it gets revived, this look is almost always more fitted in the waist than it was originally.

But the look as a whole - simple shift/chemise dresses with plain neckline and long fitted sleeves, or shockingly, no sleeves at all, and with short skirts was such a seismic shift from what came before. And it was Comfortable!! Amazing little dresses that dropped over the head over a simple lightweight slip and elastic girdle if even that, instead of dresses and petticoats and corsets and corset covers and cotton or wool bloomers all with dozens of hooks and snaps and hidden closures that take a road map to figure out. The shift from 1905 to 1925 is amazing. I mean there are 1988 clothes you can still wear in public without looking hopelessly weird and attracting attention. Maybe not the shoulder pads, but still. Believe me, if anyone had walked around in public in 1925 in a 1905 dress, they would have attracted more than stares.

What I love about this era is the design process and aesthetic that found ways to take the simplest silhouette and find endless variations to make it unique and interesting. Pin tucks, pleats, beads, lace, embroidery, drawn work, you name it, it was used. And any period that made the most of printed chiffon, metallic lamé and cut velvet has a lot going for it.

A gallery from our archives and current offering at

Extenuated Elegance:
L. a Red velvet ca 1923 Harry Collins Evening Gown & R., an early 1920s Gold Brocade with Beaded Chiffon Tunic, both from our archives
Artistic Graphics:
Ca. 1922 Green & Gold Silk Chiffon Beaded Dress & Coat Set, possibly French, from our archives

Surface Texture:
L. ca 1921 Pumpkin Linen Day Dress with Drawnwork, & R. ca 1923 Brown Brocade and Chiffon Dress , both from our archives

Painterly Art Deco Pattern:
a 1924 Red, Black & Grey Silk Crepe, @

Left - Subtle Embroidery:
Mid 1920s Cream Silk Embroidered Dress & Coat

Right - End of the Decade Complexity
late 1920s Red Crepe Day Dress with Godets & Dagged Collar, both

Tubular Elegance:
Ca 1926 Cream Silk Beaded & Fringed Dance Dress, St. Louis label, from our archives

Art Deco Pattern
Black Cut Velvet Evening Dress


Sue said...

Great information on one of my
favorite decades Hollis! What
a treat to view the images of your examples. Eye candy!

Past Perfect Vintage Clothing said...

Thank you Sue - eye candy is always good for you and better yet, it has no calories

Amy Pospiech said...

It's really hard to find day dresses, so thanks for including those. Wish I could buy and wear all of them!