Fashion in the 1920s

Reviewed by Gayle MacGregor – Sewing Machine Girl

Fashion in the 1920s
by Jayne Shrimpton
(Shire Library, ISBN: 978-0-74781-308-8)

Fashion in the 1920s book

Fashion in the 1920s explores the fashion worn in the 20s from a British perspective, along with the social history that influenced the fashion of the time.

The effects of the Great War along with the rapid industrialisation of major cities in Britain are examined, along with the rise of consumerism, and the changes to the rigid class system of the time.
Jazz music, along with film, technological advances, and the availability of the motor car and the effect of these changes on fashion and society are explored in depth by the author.

The Art Deco movement and eastern exoticism along with the influence of the Ballet Russes are investigated for the impact on culture, the arts, fashion and textiles.

The rise of mass production, and advances to the textile industry that made fashion more accessible to the wider population, along with the availability of commercial sewing and knitting patterns are discussed.

The author examines trends in fashion across the classes from the impact of Parisian Couture on the upper classes, to its adaption and production by department stores and dressmakers. This topic is richly illustrated with both high fashion costume plates, and advertisements from newspapers of the time.

Details of the changes in style and cut during the 1920s including the influence of film on fashion, beauty and cosmetics, is clearly and succinctly explained with accompanying illustrations, photographs and extant photographic examples. Shoes, accessories and lingerie are also examined.

A brief but informative chapter on menswear covers daywear, suits, leisurewear, underwear, hats, footwear, grooming and hair.

Evening dress for men and Women is examined as well as the changes during the decade, including the effect of archaeological discoveries and oriental influences on cut, length and fabrics. A comprehensive overview of children’s wear, along with brief chapters on bridal wear and sportswear complete the author’s work.

I found this book accessible, informative and an excellent overview of 1920s fashion across a wide range of social classes. The book is generously illustrated throughout including fashion plates, photographs, and photos of extant 1920s fashion.

Highly recommended.

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