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What was fashionable 100 years ago?

We have just entered a new decade, but what was fashionable to wear 100 years ago? Back then, men and women would change outfits several times a day, as they would require different clothing for each occasion. This was the 1920’s. Women in America finally had the right to vote, flapper dresses were in fashion (or were they?) and men looked like those who blessed our TV screens in the film The Great Gatsby, or the series Peaky Blinders, both of which came out in 2013.

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1920’s evening wear brings to mind outfits full of feathers, tailcoats and tassels, an era that should never be forgotten. Men would only be allowed to attend events in a tuxedo while women would be the visual stars of the evening, wearing sleeveless beaded or tasselled dresses with several layers of jewellery around their necks and wrists. The historic and well known flapper dress wasn’t the most common evening gown for young women to wear, which contradicts many peoples views of what was worn in the 1920’s.

For men, wearing a white tuxedo was considered the most formal of looks, which involved a white bowtie and a white waistcoat. A top hat completed the look for the men while the women would choose to either wear a turban or decorate their hair with a feathered headband or a beaded comb. Even though hats were majorly in style for women then, it was considered informal to wear one to an evening event, which is why turbans were sometimes worn instead.

The hat that was the most popular in the 1920’s was the cloche, which in French means “bell”. The cloche was a bell shaped hat with a small rim. The issue that came with this design though, was that it forced the women who wore them to tilt their head upwards in order to see underneath the rim. In the summer, men would buy straw hats instead of the felt hats that were worn all year round. By the end of the season these expensive straw hats were usually thrown away.

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Shoes for women have become increasingly more femenine and delicate because dresses and skirts were getting shorter, so their footwear was more visible. The t-bar straps on heels were one of the most worn evening shoes, which has stayed popular for 100 years and is still worn today. For men, the two-toned Oxfords were the trendiest in either brown, white or black, but neutral tones were favoured to stop any distraction from the rest of their outfit.

The 1920’s were a turning point in fashion, dresses were getting shorter and it was more common to change you outfit several times a day for each occasion, instead of one style being suitable. Next time you are in a busy area, have a look around and see how many items of clothing you can see that has been inspired by the 1920’s.

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