World War I ended and euphoria was the order of the day. Fashion responded by dropping waists to high hip levels and dresses became unfitted. While some gowns retained the design complexity of the Teens, the trend was toward Simplicity. Simple bodices, shaped using only a few tucks or shirring at the shoulders, or a little gather at the side seam reflected this new freedom. As the decade began hems lines perched above the ankle but in only three years skirt lengths had risen to unprecedented and – to some – shocking heights!
Necklines were usually a simple scoop or “V” but when collars were used they emphasized the long line. Sleeves were either long and straight or with bell shaping. Chiffons, light silks, soft velvets, lamés, lightweight wools and soft cottons made up the fabrics. Sometimes a sash was applied to the hip but dresses also fell in a straight line. Although dresses were simple in construction, detail was apparent in surface ornamentation such as embroidery, soft braid, and beading for evening; or fabric manipulation such as pin tucking or pulled threadwork. Tabard style sheer or semi-sheer dresses were worn over matching slips.
As the “flapper era” became established, hemlines continued their scandalous ascent and had reached the knee by 1926. The drop waist continued its popularity but skirts and bodices became more complex with seaming, circular flounces and floating panels. Decorative seaming, contrasting fabrics, and overlays began to appear. Quality, previously apparent by means of complicated fit and construction was now expressing itself through fabric and by manipulating a single layer of material. Time-consuming and costly beading was immensely popular, especially for dance dresses.
Skirt levels, that some believed were indecent, were tamed in the 1928/29 fashion collections and asymmetrical hemlines (knee length in the front, longer in the back) made their appearance to forecast the longer hemlines of the 1930s. Waistlines gradually rose to resume the position nature had intended.
Designers of the 1920s included: Patou, Molyneux, Chanel, Boue Souers, Louiseboulanger, Augustabernard and Vionnet.
Written by The Vintage Fashion Guild