The iconic look of nineteen twenties’ fashions — dropped waists, short skirts, an emphasis on youth — didn’t really dominate until the latter half of the decade. These styles from 1924 don’t suggest flaming youth.
These outfits from the tubular twenties have very long skirts, just exposing the ankle area. Women’s hemlines are not much changed from 1917. The 1924 Butterick suit coat shown above, from the lower left of the page, not only looks matronly to me, it reminds me of the suits of 1910, although the body ideal is quite different.
Another suit, from the Bendel Collection, by French designer Jenny has a vague twenties’ look, hinting at a lowered waist, but it is actually from 1914. Here’s a closer look at that Butterick style for 1924:
An illustration from later in 1924 shows that this shapeless look (with the same hat) was not necessarily for older women:
Returning to the top of page 32, a “box coat,” elaborately embroidered using Butterick transfer pattern 10181, is at left. The dress worn under it does have a dropped waist.
Here’s another illustration of hat 4973, worn by a much more girlish model, from April of 1924.
This last coat, from the lower right side of page 32, is rather charming, perhaps because it looks more like the fashions to come:
The model is drawn as a teen; her hem shows just a bit more leg, and the coat’s pin-tucked trim on cuff and collar hints at an Art Deco influence.
When I look at these styles, I can hardly wait for the “real” twenties to begin. As in the 1960’s, styles favored by young women and teens became dominant as the decade progressed.
7 responses to “Before “Twenties’ Fashions” Had That Twenties’ Look”
Love this post! I recently finished sewing a 1914 suit set, and am now starting a 1917 dress with plans for an early 20’s dress as well, so this post will help me make the right hemline and fit for my future projects. Thank you for yet another informative, interesting post.
Your last paragraph is something I have noticed, too. It’s like the style for which a decade becomes known for is slow to “get going”. I’ve seen many early 60’s designs really looking like the 1950s until after ’63. Even the quintessential 70’s ‘look’ (elephant pants, etc.) didn’t really get going ’til circa 1974 (from the patterns in my stash). I’m glad I’m not the only one who sees this! (Also, let me know if I am off with my dates!)
The collection of French couture sketched for Bendel’s store would probably be an inspiration for your projects — lovely color drawings made so the store could copy the clothes! The Brooklyn museum is gradually putting them online, and the majority of the ones online now are nineteen-teens and early twenties. They do not look dowdy! (And, yes, wouldn’t it be handy if fashion actually changed at the turn of a decade….)
Thank you for that link! There is so much there to look at…an inspiration indeed (and oh so classy)!
This a sewing pattern of mine from 1924 looking very 20s:
It is made up of an under slip and tunic and the trimming is bands of diamante. I imagine as the decade progressed the underslip would have been shortened.
Thank you! I was about to ask if vintage dealers often found dresses that were obviously shortened when hems rose! I have pictures of a twenties dress that was pretty clearly lengthened for the 1930s. I need to write about it soon.
Fascinating stuff! I think there’s a lot to love in earlier 20s fashions.
Some of the evening dresses are lovely. That link to the Bendel Collection has plenty of beautiful color sketches.