1930 to 1940


Great innovations in fashion were seen during the Depression despite the economic hardships of the time. The abbreviated, linear forms of the 1920s quickly gave way to sinuous shapes and longer hemlines. Waistlines returned to the natural position, while remaining relaxed in fit. Designers experimented with new cuts and new materials. For evening, the bias cut gown was favored (as created by Madeleine Vionnet) in silk velvet or silk satin. Synthetic fabrics such as rayon and nylon were in common use for everyday garments.

After 1935, zippers were employed as a more efficient alternative to labor-intensive hook-and-eye closures. Indeed, in the hands of prestigious houses such as Schiaparelli they became design elements. Costume jewelry, popularized by Chanel’s signature faux pearl strands, became an accessory staple. By 1938, small shoulder pads had become fashionable, heralding the shoulder emphasis of the 1940s. This, in spite of the Depression, was another grand era for Haute Couture. Lanvin, Molyneux, Mainbocher, Patou and Maggy Rouff all had active fashion houses as did Vionnet, Chanel and Schiaparelli.

The movies influenced how women dressed and what they thought about fashion.

It was not uncommon for designers such as Gilbert Adrian and Irene to make their names in Hollywood’s film industry. Women clamoured to look like their screen idols. This desire prompted many Hollywood couturiers to produce clothing for the mass market via department stores or their own collections. The Hollywood phenomenon also spread to Europe. Exemplified by the white satin bias cut dresses as worn by Jean Harlow, the Hollywood look featured dramatic lines that played best to camera. The full length garden party dress with picture hat, the striking wool suit with portrait fur collar, the grand negligee – these were all part of the Hollywood in the 1930s look as well.

Written by The Vintage Fashion Guild

Next 1940 to 1950
Back Fashion Timeline

 1930s satin crepe & sequins gown  -  Courtesy of noblesavagevintage.com

1930s satin crepe & sequins gown Courtesy of noblesavagevintage.com

 1930s satin bias cut gown  - Courtesy of vivavintageclothing.com

1930s satin bias cut gown Courtesy of vivavintageclothing.com

 1930s pink satin gown - Courtesy of pastperfectvintage.com

1930s pink satin gown Courtesy of pastperfectvintage.com

 1930s velvet & ostrich dressing gown -  Courtesy of noblesavagevintage.com

1930s velvet & ostrich dressing gown Courtesy of noblesavagevintage.com

1930s lace evening gown -  Courtesy of specialsomethings

1930s lace evening gown Courtesy of specialsomethings

 1930s Lucien Lelong silk tulle gown - Courtesy of vintagetextile.com

1930s Lucien Lelong silk tulle gown Courtesy of vintagetextile.com

1930s Jean Carol dress  - Courtesy of denisebrain

1930s Jean Carol dress Courtesy of denisebrain

1930s crepe gown  - Courtesy of poppysvintageclothing

1930s crepe gown Courtesy of poppysvintageclothing

 1930s sheer party dress  - Courtesy of pinkyagogo

1930s sheer party dress Courtesy of pinkyagogo

1930s sheer patterned dress  - Courtesy of pinkyagogo

1930s sheer patterned dress Courtesy of pinkyagogo

 1930s satin evening gown  - Courtesy of vivavintageclothing.com

1930s satin evening gown Courtesy of vivavintageclothing.com

1930s satin gown  - Courtesy of pinkyagogo

1930s satin gown Courtesy of pinkyagogo

1930s satin cocktail dress  - Courtesy of vivavintageclothing.com

1930s satin cocktail dress Courtesy of vivavintageclothing.com

1930s velvet & chinchilla gown  - Courtesy of pinkyagogo

1930s velvet & chinchilla gown Courtesy of pinkyagogo

1930s print dress  - Courtesy of denisebrain

1930s print dress Courtesy of denisebrain

 1930s lace suit  - Courtesy of denisebrain

1930s lace suit Courtesy of denisebrain

1930s organdy floral dress  - Courtesy of denisebrain

1930s organdy floral dress Courtesy of denisebrain

1930s tweed wool suit  - Courtesy of leonardodavintage

1930s tweed wool suit Courtesy of leonardodavintage

 1930s silk boudoir jacket  - Courtesy of thespectrum

1930s silk boudoir jacket Courtesy of thespectrum

 1930s silk panties -  Courtesy of thesectrum

1930s silk panties Courtesy of thesectrum

 1930s dress clip - Courtesy of linnscollection

1930s dress clip Courtesy of linnscollection

 1930s dress clips  - Courtesy of linnscollection

1930s dress clips Courtesy of linnscollection

 1930s celluloid bib necklace  - Courtesy of cur.iovintage

1930s celluloid bib necklace Courtesy of cur.iovintage

1930s bakelite & celluloid necklace  - Courtesy of linnscollection

1930s bakelite & celluloid necklace Courtesy of linnscollection

 1930s potmetal plastic fruit salad bracelet - Courtesy of linnscollection

1930s potmetal plastic fruit salad bracelet Courtesy of linnscollection

 1930s bracelet  - Courtesy of linnscollection

1930s bracelet Courtesy of linnscollection

 1930s French cuff bracelet  - Courtesy of vivavintageclothing.com

1930s French cuff bracelet Courtesy of vivavintageclothing.com

1930s bakelite bangle bracelet - Courtesy of thespectrum

1930s bakelite bangle bracelet Courtesy of thespectrum

1930s enamelled pot metal & rhinestone brooch  - Courtesy of cur.iovintage

1930s enamelled pot metal & rhinestone brooch Courtesy of cur.iovintage

1930s beaded fabric & celluloid purse  - Courtesy of cur.iovintage

1930s beaded fabric & celluloid purse Courtesy of cur.iovintage

1930s Bovio Modes satin hat  - Courtesy of thespectrum

1930s Bovio Modes satin hat Courtesy of thespectrum

 1930s satin mules - Courtesy of cur.iovintage

1930s satin mules Courtesy of cur.iovintage

1930s Parkway satin strappy dance shoes  - Courtesy of thespectrum

1930s Parkway satin strappy dance shoes Courtesy of thespectrum

1930s deco suede shoes  - Courtesy of thespectrum

1930s deco suede shoes Courtesy of thespectrum

 1930s Spectator shoes  - Courtesy of magsragsvintage

1930s Spectator shoes Courtesy of magsragsvintage

1930s sheared beaver 'chubby' jacket  - Courtesy of poppysvintageclothing

1930s sheared beaver 'chubby' jacket Courtesy of poppysvintageclothing

1930s lounger  - Courtesy of magsragsvintage

1930s lounger Courtesy of magsragsvintage

 1930 lamé & velvet coat  - Courtesy of poppysvintageclothing

1930 lamé & velvet coat Courtesy of poppysvintageclothing

 1930 Burberry country suit - Courtesy of pastperfectvintage.com

1930 Burberry country suit Courtesy of pastperfectvintage.com

1930 ostrich skin bag - Courtesy of  Leonardodavintage

1930 ostrich skin bag Courtesy of Leonardodavintage

1933 chiffon print dress  - Courtesy of pastperfectvintage.com

1933 chiffon print dress Courtesy of pastperfectvintage.com

early 1930s Worth of Boston velvet & ermine hat  - Courtesy of ruedelapaix

early 1930s Worth of Boston velvet & ermine hat Courtesy of ruedelapaix

early 1930s Simon Rubin straw hat  - Courtesy cur.iovintage

early 1930s Simon Rubin straw hat Courtesy cur.iovintage

early 1930s silk velvet jacket  - Courtesy of denisebrain

early 1930s silk velvet jacket Courtesy of denisebrain

early 1930s Henry Morgan Co coat -  Courtesy of themerchantsofvintage

early 1930s Henry Morgan Co coat Courtesy of themerchantsofvintage

early 1930s silk piano shawl  - Courtesy of fallsavenuevintage

early 1930s silk piano shawl Courtesy of fallsavenuevintage

early 1930s Czech topaz glass & brass necklace  - Courtesy of cur.iovintage

early 1930s Czech topaz glass & brass necklace Courtesy of cur.iovintage

1934 deep plum velvet evening dress - Courtesy of antiquedress.com

1934 deep plum velvet evening dress Courtesy of antiquedress.com

1935  velvet & lace dress  - Courtesy of pastperfectvintage.com

1935 velvet & lace dress Courtesy of pastperfectvintage.com

1935 printed silk lounging pajamas  - Courtesy of pastperfectvintage.com

1935 printed silk lounging pajamas Courtesy of pastperfectvintage.com

 1935 print chiffon dress  - Courtesy of pastperfectvintage.com

1935 print chiffon dress Courtesy of pastperfectvintage.com

 1935 cotton day dress - Courtexy of coutureallurevintage.com

1935 cotton day dress Courtexy of coutureallurevintage.com

1937 Chanel lace gown - Courtesy of vintagetextile.com

1937 Chanel lace gown Courtesy of vintagetextile.com

 1937 rayon print dress  - Courtesy of pastperfectvintage.com

1937 rayon print dress Courtesy of pastperfectvintage.com

 1937 wool coat  - Courtesy of vivavintageclothing com

1937 wool coat Courtesy of vivavintageclothing com

 1937 fruit salad brooch  - Courtesy of linnscollection

1937 fruit salad brooch Courtesy of linnscollection

1937 KTF dress clip  - Courtesy of linnscollection

1937 KTF dress clip Courtesy of linnscollection

late 1930s wool coat  - Courtesy of vivavintageclothing.com

late 1930s wool coat Courtesy of vivavintageclothing.com

late 1930s Walkover shoes  - Courtesy of thespectrum

late 1930s Walkover shoes Courtesy of thespectrum

late 1930s unsigned brooch  - Courtesy of linnscollection

late 1930s unsigned brooch Courtesy of linnscollection

late 1930s silk evening gown -  Courtesy of thespectrum

late 1930s silk evening gown Courtesy of thespectrum

late 1930s rayon print dress  - Courtesy of vivavintageclothing.com

late 1930s rayon print dress Courtesy of vivavintageclothing.com

late 1930s rayon blouse  - Courtesy of vivianbellevintage

late 1930s rayon blouse Courtesy of vivianbellevintage

late 1930s print house dress  - Courtesy of vivavintageclothing.com

late 1930s print house dress Courtesy of vivavintageclothing.com

late 1930s felt tall hat  - Courtesy of vivavintageclothing.com

late 1930s felt tall hat Courtesy of vivavintageclothing.com

1939 print cotton gauze dress  - Courtesy of denisebrain

1939 print cotton gauze dress Courtesy of denisebrain

1939 Victorian revival hat by Laddie Northridge  - Courtesy of ruedelapaix

1939 Victorian revival hat by Laddie Northridge Courtesy of ruedelapaix

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