Body Decorations, 1919โ€“29

After World War I (1914โ€“18) both women and men changed the way they adorned themselves. No longer needing to follow the rules set by the military, men began getting their fashion guidance from newly popular film actors and public figures, such as Edward VIII, the Prince of Wales (1894โ€“1972), or created their own styles on college campuses throughout Europe and the United States. The decade brought more changes for women than for men.

Women began to experiment with makeup. Bold use of cosmetics marked the decade as women created dramatic looks that imitated movie stars such as Clara Bow (1905โ€“1965) and Theda Bara (1885โ€“1955). Women traced their eyes with black eyeliner, plucked their eyebrows out and drew new ones with a dark pencil, and re-shaped the line of their lips with red pencil to make them look like a cupid's bow. To complement their heavily painted faces, women slicked bright polish on their fingernails and adorned themselves with many accessories.

The accessories of the decade were influenced by many different sources. Women wore jewelry inspired by the unearthing in 1922 of the ancient Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamen, who lived in the fourteenth century B.C.E. , and by the new art movements sweeping Europe and the United States, including cubism, art deco, and surrealism. The creation of costume jewelry allowed women to wear bigger, bolder jewels and to follow trends without spending a fortune. Brand names also became important during the decade, especially with the introduction of Chanel No. 5 in 1922, which would become the world's most famous perfume.


Dorner, Jane. Fashion in the Twenties and Thirties. London, England: Ian Allan Ltd., 1973.

Grafton, Carol Belanger. Shoes, Hats, and Fashion Accessories: A Pictorial Archive, 1850โ€“1940. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 1998.

Laver, James. Costume and Fashion: A Concise History. 4th ed. London, England: Thames and Hudson, 2002.

Payne, Blanche, Geitel Winakor, and Jane Farrell-Beck. The History of Costume. 2nd ed. New York: HarperCollins, 1992.

Chanel No. 5
Costume Jewelry
Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel
Nail Polish

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