The ten years between 1919 and 1929 took Europeans and Americans on a social and economic roller-coaster ride. With the end of World War I in 1918, people abandoned their cautious attitudes caused by the uncertainty of war and embraced the freedom and joyousness of peace.
As the Western world celebrated the end of World War I (1914–18) clothing styles changed to reflect the enthusiasm of the time. The most striking differences came in the silhouettes, or shapes, of men's and women's outfits.
Flatteners appeared on the fashion scene during the late 1910s and 1920s, around the same time as brassieres. However, while brassieres were designed to lift and support the breasts, flatteners had a different purpose: to press the breasts tightly against the body in order to give the wearer the flat-chested look that was popular at the time.
As the economies of Western countries began to recover after the end of World War I (1914–18), people began to be able to afford more luxurious clothes. The wealthiest women began to show off their riches through their clothes.
When World War I (1914–18) ended, women adopted a new style: the knee-length hemline. The year 1919 was the first year that European and American women showed their legs in public.
The first navy blue blazer, a type of jacket, appeared in the late 1830s. The designer of the blazer was the captain of the British ship the HMS Blazer.
Young people attempted to set themselves apart from their elders and establish their own fashion styles in the 1920s, a trend that continues into the twenty-first century. In 1924 at Oxford University in Great Britain, a small group of male students began wearing trousers that never would have been worn by their fathers.
Pajamas were loungewear and sleepwear that consisted of pants and jacket tops. The word derived from two Hindi terms: "pa(y)," for leg, and "jamah," for garment.
First introduced during the 1920s, plus fours were a variation on the traditional knee pants called knickers, which had been worn by men, boys, and, occasionally, women, since the late 1800s. Plus fours received their name because they were made four inches longer than ordinary knickers.
For a short time during the mid-1920s, wearing long, bulky coats of raccoon fur was a fad among young American men and some young women, especially those attending colleges and universities. Distinctive and flamboyant, the gray and black raccoon fur coat fit perfectly with the style of the Roaring Twenties (a period of time following World War I [1914–18] when people were experiencing newfound freedoms and a sense of rebellion), when people dressed in flashy and extravagant fashions.
Attending sporting events was a popular leisure time practice during the 1920s. Fashion-conscious spectators dressed in attire appropriate for a variety of sports events.
During the 1920s many men and women began to participate in such sports as golf, tennis, and swimming. Affluent people enjoyed yachting and polo.
Swimwear is clothing worn while swimming or visiting the beach or a pool. As more and more men and women visited public beaches to swim, relax, and play recreational water sports in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, issues about swimwear arose regarding popular fashion, functionality, and modesty.
At the turn of the twentieth century tailored suits for women, consisting of a matching or coordinated jacket and skirt, were popular outfits for office work, afternoon social visits, travel, and leisure activities such as walking. For the first few decades of the 1900s, tailored suits were made up of loose-fitting waist-length or hip-length jackets and ankle-length or floor-length flared skirts.
After the end of World War I (1914–18) both men and women were inspired to change their hairstyles. For men the changes were not too drastic, but for women hairstyles were dramatically different.
Women's short hairstyles during the 1920s were not without ornament. Small metal clasps with sparkling real or fake jewels held hair off the face or elaborate headdresses completely covered the hair.
For many centuries men allowed their facial hair to grow. In the early decades of United States history, such public figures as politicians and businessmen often sported beards or mustaches.
Cloche hats were the most fashionable form of women's headgear during the 1920s. They were close-fitting, helmet-shaped hats that hugged the skull.
Derby hats were rigid head coverings that traditionally were made of woolen felt. They featured slender, rolled brims and rounded, or dome-shaped, tops.
During the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth century, hats and caps were a necessary part of a well-dressed man's daily wardrobe. Between the 1890s and the 1960s, one of the most popular hats was the fedora, a soft felt hat with a brim and tapered crown with a crease down the center.
Men had for some time carefully groomed their hair to give it shine. But in the 1920s a smooth glossy finish called the patent leather look became very popular.
The shingle was considered the most feminine women's short hairdo of the 1920s. The style featured short hair worn close to the head with the front and the sides cut to cover the ears and the back cut and shaped into layers of short fringe at the neckline to resemble shingles on a roof.
In an April 1927 issue of Pictorial Review, a well-known opera singer of the 1920s named Mary Garden (1874–1967) wrote an article titled "Why I Bobbed My Hair" explaining to her fans why she cut off her long hair. She said, "Bobbed hair is a state of mind and not merely a new manner of dressing my head.… I consider getting rid of our long hair one of the many little shackles that women have cast aside in their passage to freedom." This statement expresses the underlying reason behind the 1920s fad of short hair for women.
After World War I (1914–18) 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 (1894–1972), or created their own styles on college campuses throughout Europe and the United States.
Chanel No. 5 has become one of the world's most popular fragrances.
Adornments for the body that are made of precious metals and stones are called jewelry, and jewelry is given the name costume jewelry when it is not made from precious materials. Costume jewelry provides an inexpensive way to add glamour and sparkle to fashion because it is usually made of cheap materials, such as glass or plastic rather than diamonds and emeralds, and plain steel, brass, or copper, rather than gold and silver.
Substances applied to the face for the purpose of enhancing, improving, or highlighting the features of the face are called cosmetics or makeup. People have used cosmetics since very ancient times, and the use of cosmetics, like other fashions, are usually dictated by the social customs and beliefs of the day.
The fashion of decorating the fingernails and toenails with color began in ancient societies, mainly among those of the upper classes. Carefully tended and adorned nails showed that one belonged to a leisure class that did not have to do manual labor.
Shoe and boot styles altered little for men, but a great deal for women, during the 1920s. For everyday occasions men continued to wear either plain or two-toned oxfords with rounded toes, sometimes with spats (linen or canvas shoe coverings) that covered their ankles and the tops of their shoes.
As hemlines began to rise by the mid-1920s, the adornment of women's feet became an essential part of a fashionable outfit. High-heeled shoes with low-cut uppers emphasized women's dainty ankles.
Spats are linen or canvas shoe coverings that fasten under the bottom of the shoe and button up the side. They were first designed to protect shoes and ankles from mud and water while walking.
The women's T-strap sandal was first popularized during the 1920s as women began to show off more of their legs and feet. The style featured a pointed toe with a strap that reached toward the ankle from the center of the toe to a horizontal strap circling the ankle.
Wing tips are men's lace-up oxford shoes that are designed with a decorative leather cap on the toe, which is cut in a "winged" design. The cap usually also has other ornamental touches, such as patterns of holes cut or pressed into the leather.