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1920s Fashion Is Not What You Think It Is

1920s Fashion Is Not What You Think It Is

– hello? – hi, how are you?
– hi..
– i was thinking if you could help me, cause i have this like.. 1920s.. uh.. themed party that i’m going to and i have like literally no idea what to wear.. uh.. and because you’re such an expert i was thinking you could maybe help me – yeah, sure, yeah – so basically i have this like.. um.. little black dress-
– NOOOOO – s.. sorry?? – yeah.. uh.. sorry, go on – yeah, so i was saying i have this little black dress that’s like, um it’s kind of like strapless-
– NOOOOOOOO OOO – … are you ok?.. – no, uh, yeah, that was my.. my sister.. uh-h.. get out, i’m on my phone, stop it!.. yeah, go on, sorry – so, it’s strapless and it has like, um like, fringe all over it- – NOOOOOO that.. that was my sister again!. um…
– oh! oh, ok, um.. and it’s kind of.. it’s kind of like a mini dress. it, like, it reaches my, like, half of my thighs. so, i was thinking i would wear that, and then i also have like stilettos yeah.. i’ll probably just wear that. and then, i was thinking in terms of like accessories, i was thinking, like um, a string of pearls and maybe like ’cause i don’t really have a hat but.. but.. but i was thinking like, um.. you know, a piece of lace on my forehead, and then like one single like feather.. do you think that’ll.. that’ll work? would that be ok? – ……. hello?…. Hi how are you ? I’m good just.. answered my own question.. what is that? oh, oh, you like that? oh, thank you, that’s my new pin, that i’ve designed myself, i’m gonna show you check this out check. this. out it’s 18th century swag pin, that you can get on Etsyyyyy
20 of those are already sold, i’m gonna.. u know.. just go and get one. ’cause i designed them back to the original topic of this sad video 1920s! 1920s is definetly one of the most stereotyped decades i have ever.. witnessed.. i have not witnessed 1920’s, what am i talking about.. and what’s sad is because we all think we know what 1920s was and how people dressed and what they looked like, we don’t really feel like getting to know more about it and it’s so much more than what we think it is i don’t even know where to start, um.. i used to be one of those people, i used to be like “1920s? ok, short dresses, frills, headbands feathers, black gloves pearls, black dresses heels.. is that alright?” aand, it wasn’t untill i got more into fashion history, that i realized it wasn’t like that in the first place, and also that it didn’t happen right after Belle Époque, ’cause i used to be like “ok, so, they wore the long dresses, and then it was like POP short dresses!” as.. you know.. as i was more interested in fashion history i discovered that nothing in fashion history happens at once it’s all gradual.. doesn’t matter whether that’s.. crinolines to bustle dresses or bustle dresses to Belle Époque it’s always gradual, it always takes years for a single silhouette to kind of go through so, when it comes to 1920s, it all happened because of what happened before that, which is you, know from 1908 actually, women’s silhouette and style of dressing kind of started to become more simple, and people were kind of like “wait, so we can make women’s fashion comfortable at the same time?”
and because of war obviously, people started noticing that women might actually need dresses that they’re able to move in and, maybe it’s not the best idea to have you know, a 1 meter diameter hat.. so 1920s kind of the effect of that way of thinking, and also from around like 1908, when Paul Perret kind of started pursuing this new way of thinking, which was “fashion could be art”, and they were kind of like “wait, we could treat fashion as art and in that way we could be more creative with our choices, and stuff” and, i think, all this combined, made 1920s i think, the way we see 1920s today is the result of us not really understanding previous fashions and not really understanding how big of a change that was, ’cause when we hear “in 1920s the dresses were much shorter”, we as modern people, imagine “ok so, they must’ve been really short, if that made such an impact” and we don’t really see, how big of a difference would let’s say, 10 cm make, if it comes to showing your calves for the first time and the same goes for using makeup where we’re like “ok, so if they were so shocked by the 1920s makeup, then that must mean that they used a shitload of makeup”, and that’s not true, because you have to remember what was happening before, and before that you had to use makeup in a way that no one could ever tell you’re wearing makeup, so in that case, it comes to something as small as, let’s say accentuating your eyebrows for people to go like “CRAP THAT’S SHOKING”, and, i think, if we keep in mind that specific mindset, it’s so much easier for us to understand what 1920s really was, and what it was, well, let me tell you that so, basically, “the short dresses”.. the dresses up untill the mid 1920s were reaching to around.. mid-calf?.. my cat is.. probably urinating.. can you keep it down? no, he did not listen to me.. um, and that was considered shokingly short because before that, before the war something as simple as showing your ankle was a huge thing, and they were kind of like “WOW”, and then, around 1925 the dresses started getting even shorter and they, in 1927 they were, like, the shortest shockingly short, which meant they barely covered the knees but, if you’re thinking about 1920s fashion as the one, that kind of LIBERATED the knees, then, boy, you are wrong, because the knees were not shown in fashion untill.. 1960s, actually.. obviously, when it comes to day dresses, when it comes to, idk, shorts or.. swimwear, it’s a completely different story, but when it comes to mainstream fashion, day to day fashion, they were not shown in 1920’s at all and the reason we think they were is because when the skirts barely covered the knee, obviously, when you sat down with your legs crossed or when you were stepping up.. idk, into a vehicle, or something the knees would show, obviously, because the skirt would go up a bit but, if you were just standing, like doing nothing, the knees would always have to be covered, and obviously, when you look at photographs, and like what people actually wore, the knees are sometimes shown but i think that’s because they often wore clothes that they got from someone, or clothes that were not exactly fitted for them, so i think, that’s why on some photographs knees show but it definitely wasn’t common back then but it is true that it was the shortest that dresses have been in a long time, probably ever in fashion history, so, that’s why we keep thinking they got to real extremes, whereas actually, they only showed the calves most of the time, and the reason we think that way is also because of the way it’s been depicted in the movies afterwards, so whenever something was set in 1920s, the costume designers would usually put a huge accent on the legs but, because the modern audiences are kind of used to seeing calves they would have to make the dresses really short to make people see the legs the way the 1920s people saw the legs, so do not trust movies! and also if you see drawings from the era depicting women’s knees, like, if you see drawings where you can see women’s knees, that’s because the proportions are all over the place, and if you see photographs where someone is deliberately showing their knees, probably an erotic photograph, so you should be ashamed of yourself so, that’s about the length, when it comes to the makeup, it’s the same thing again – it was shoking for 1920s people because before that you wouldn’t normally see people wearing visible makeup on the streets, but when it comes to us seeing 1920s makeup it’s not that crazy, it’s mostly about the blush it’s mostly about the plucked eyebrows, which also is kind of the reason why the visible makeup was more acceptable, because, obviously, when you pluck your eyebrows and they’re king of light you wouldn’t be able to really see them, so in order to achieve the fashionable shape, you would need to accentuate them in some way. you also might do your eyelashes, darken them a bit, and some eyeshadow, but it honestly wouldn’t be too dark, even for nighttime makeup.. also the reason we tend to think that 1920s makeup was like really really strong is because of the silent cinema stars that had their special film makeup on while being filmed, because the film tape at that time was not really sensetive to yellow or red, it kind of showed both yellow and red as dark, and it was not considered cool to have a dark face back then so, you obviously want your face to be as vibrant as possible, so people would just paint their faces white, an then to kind of accentuate eyes and lips, which are kind of the most important pieces of acting, let’s say they would put dark eyeshadow around their eyes and they would have some dark lips just so they can have more expressive faces so, that’s what they did, and it didn’t mean that that was fashionable they did not do that because of fashion, that was purely because of tehnical issues they had. now to the accessories the problem i have with excessive accessories when people are trying to style themselves “like 1920s”, is because they mix the wrong accessories, for example i’m not a huge fan of wearing long gloves for 1920s style dresses, because a) that did not really happen that often in evening situations.. maybe if you were at a really official thing with the Queen, let’s say, and someone, that’s where gloves were kind of expected to be worn but for evening things.. i don’t think i’ve seen that many people wearing long gloves like, the ones that reach kind of over your elbow.. i don’t think i’ve seen that many women wearing those in formal situations, or like, balls and stuff, from 1920s, so.. now, shoes! they were not high. they were not high, they were not higher than they were before the heel was pretty much the same it almost looked the same, really it was a really kind of like low heel that was kind of curved in a specific way, which makes it really hard nowadays to find heels like that which is also kind of why i get why when people have 1920s parties, they just wear regular heels cuz why would they look specifically for heels like that, when they’re really hard to find so, yeah, i totally get it, but if you wanna go for something more historically accurate, your heels shouldn’t be that high, and it probably shouldn’t be really thin cuz they got thinner in 1930s but they were quite thick in 1920s. and also t-bars were not really that huge of a thing what i’ve seen is on most pictures is like, a single strap across thefoot, and that’s pretty much it also, i think, a lot of people think that 1920s were a decade of cloche hats you know, the ones that are really tight over your head, and.. what was that?.. H eHE aD and that’s not true, i mean, obviously, it was a huuge thing, especially later in the decade from, let’s say, 1926-27, you could probably only see cloche hats on the streets, cuz i’ve seen group pictures where every single woman is wearing a cloche hat, but before that that means, that was for most of the decade it was completely ok to wear either a cloche hat or a hat with a wider brim and it was equally fashionable, especially early in the decade it was just as fashionable to wear a small hat as it was to wear a big wide brim hat, with that brim going a bit downwards, and also what changed in 1920s hats was that they stopped showing the forehead, they were really really low when it comes to the front of your head you could almost have your eyebrows covered by your hat so, that’s something that has changed because before that you would wear them sort of on top of your head that’s very specific for 1920s, so if you do have a hat try wearing it really low in front and that should give you this like special effect another thing that is my pet peeve and you know about that is hair. so, ok, basically, you had two options you either could cut your hair and have them really short, or if you didn’t wanna do that, you could wear them in a really low tight bun, or you could just twist them at the back of your head. sometimes, if you wanted to be fashionable but you didn’t feel like cutting your hair you would have the front of your hair cut so you could style them in a fashionable way and the back of your head wold still be a bun so basically you would have your long hair and the front would make you look fashionable so, those were like literally the only two options you had either have short hair or have long hair and pretend they’re short.. so, that’s why i don’t really get why would anyone think that long waves were fashionable in 1920s so, i dont really know where that comes from, but that would not happen in 1920s at all.. and the last thing is corsets. so, i’ve heard “IN 1920s WOMEN STOPPED WEARING CORSETS” so many times it’s actually unbelievable, and it’s not true because.. yes, it is true that they stopped wearing corsets as they knew them before meaning, structures with boning and stuff and front opening, and lacing, but, again, “they stopped wearing corsets” in 1920s perspective because what they wore they didn’t think of as corsets but nowadays, i think we can pretty much call them corsets they were just.. they were kind of corsets without boning they had some elastic panels on the sides or the back to shape them differently, but they were .. the thing they were supposed to do was exactly what a corset would do, meaning shape a body so it adjusts to the beauty ideal better but this time, instead of accentuating the waist, it was supposed to flatten the silhouette make the boobs go, make the butt kind of stay in place and basically it gave it a different silhouette, but it was still a corset, so, that’s something that majority of the women had to wear still especially if they were a bit more curvy to get the right silhouette, because the silhouette was really hard to achieve, because, the beauty ideal at the time was to be flat and have no boobs whatsoever but at the same time you couldn’t be really skinny, cuz that was not fashionable, you had to have some meat and fat.. so, that’s really hard to achieve, so, in order to achieve that you had to flatten your chest, and that’s what most people did, either by using special bras or or special shirts and stuff and then the corset was.. was multifunctional, cuz at the same time it served as a garter belt. so, it’s not true that they didn’t wear corsets, they did, to a certain extent, especially if you are not skinny and if you did not naturally have that silhouette of a flat boyish woman.. so, a lot of people still did, and the only difference is you didn’t have to and you would not be considered gross and indecent so, the way they perceived corsets changed, but the way they saw the silhouette was still pretty much the same, like, if you don’t have the silhouette you’re not fashionable, so, if a woman had big boobs and she didn’t hide them in any way, she would be considered unfashionable. so, here’s another thing i alleged forgot about, and that is i wanted to mention how 1920s clothes were really really loose in a sense that if you have a dress that you think might work as a 1920s dress but it’s really tight or it’s a bit tighter around your waist area, there is a fair chance that it will not work as a 1920s style dress, mainly because everything back then was supposed to be really really loose up untill late 1920s, let’s say, 1929 so, if you see something that’s a bit tighter, it’s not 1920s style even though it might look better on you than having some loose rugs. it’s kind of strange, because back then it was considered fashionable to look like a potato bag then having something that actually fits you.. but clothes basically used to look as if they’re a bit too big, so if something’s a bit tighter it probably will not work, if you’re looking for a historically accurate look ok, so, right now i can’t really remember anything else i wanted to point out i’ll probably remember at list five things as soon as i stop recording but.. these are all kind of like suggestions, i really advise you to dig deep into 1920s, because it’s so much more than you think there are so many trends that you could explore and that might help you if you’re looking for a 1920s style outfit for a party or something you might find it in unexpected places you might, you know, find an indian robe that might actually work you might have a shawl, that you can just wrap around your head just have a look at photographs and just find some inspiration, cuz it’s a good starting point. yeahhh
where’s my boy.. do you agree with me or not? do you.. what?.. ouch! such a little..

100 thoughts on “1920s Fashion Is Not What You Think It Is

  1. There is so much generalization for every decade. In theatre, we do period plays and I will come in with clothes actually from that era but I will stand out as the one in a "bad costume" because my style is different, even though I'm the one being accurate. Clothing has so much more significance and history than many people give it credit for.

  2. In the 1920s they stopped wearing "corsets". They were called "girdles". My mother was born in 1920, so I got to see fashion through her – looking at all her photos of her life.

  3. The word for the 1920s corset was the "Girdle" and the girdle stayed around for decades too… similar to spanx today, meant to suck you in

  4. But wait… I thought coco Chanel basically invented the LBD in the 1920’s? It wasn’t shorter than the knees but it’s still implied in this video that LBD is a 20’s no-no when it was a staple?

  5. When were you born? What makes you the expert of the roaring twenties fashion? Your video is very boring, you lost me in the first minute!! 😬😖😪

  6. You can also tell in early cinema that the make-up, the sets and costumes etc. were still based on the theatre. So in theatre you use heavy, exaggerated make-up so that the audience can see facial expressions from afar. (They even used masks in ancient times and still do in certain types of theatre.)
    Early films, while bringing the audience a bit closer were still not as crisp and HD as they are today, so the theatre make-up was still necessary (with some moderation like Karolina said).

  7. When I started studying fashion history I was shocked at how…well…dumpy-looking the clothing in the photos looked

  8. When I watched Downton Abbey, I was quite fascinated by the change of the fashion the ladies of the house wear. Dear @Karolina Zebrowska, were the makers of that show accurate with the clothing?

  9. LOL at your face at 1:28 your amazing. I always catch myself now being like hey that isn't period clothes in movies now! Thank you for the englightenment your amazing ! -Mrs mason

  10. My grandmother is 94 this year, which means she was born in 1925. She's a very strict lady about image and modesty. In her home, she would wear a sarong ( I pronounced it sarung) over her chest or on her waist. She has never expose anything below her knees (It was considered innapropiate, I guess?).

    To this day, she still shames me because I wore a tank top and shorts at home (lol even said "The neighbours will see you and fantasize about your tits and ass! You braless woman!" ) 😂😂

  11. Also couldn’t afford to replace clothing as girls grew so often knees showed if a growth happened before clothes could be afforded. Also most wore drop waist.

  12. But that’s on any decade!! most people are clueless about fashion history most related fashion history to a probably a Hollywood movie they saw and they recreated in a very cheese cheap way. And Yeah many people think the 1920s is just about flappers dressing in black cheese dresses with a black bob wig smoking a cigarette.

    What about the 1950s they think it is just like the grease movie with pink swing dresses with a puddle on it. The movie grease its just a mixture of a 1950s drag with late 1970s which is went grease was made. That movie was not even that accurate about 1950s fashion. The movie that was very accurate about how the 1950s looked like is “back to the future”

    When I see those cheese Halloween costumes parties it kills me, first-able no creativity what’s so ever and secondly far from being accurate.

    The worse is the 1970s when they think a white suit for man and a bell bottoms outfit full of flowers for woman with a piece sign plastic necklace dancing like Jon Travolta. It it’s like I want to puke. Those Walmart and eBay costumes are an insult to fashion history.

    Also the 1990s far to even worse they think all 1990s was just like prince of bell air from 1990 season and vanilla ice from also 1990 to 1991 that was all 1990s to many people.

    I would love to do a video with you about how inaccurate is when people try to dress to a certain period era. They look cheap and cheese specially when they try to represent era where only natural fabrics existed but instead they only use polyester costume from Walmart.

  13. I found your observation that people's perception of women's makeup in the 20s was based on Hollywood constructs very enlightening. Another thing you alluded to is pertinent to all labeled eras; it's arbitrary and actually false to think of any decade as a unified time period in regard to fashion, writing etc. Certainly I am on one level guilty of that; the escapist glamour of the early 30s; Busby Berkley, Fred Astaire, Cole Porter; the talkies — Garbo, Dietrich, Jean Harlow is often conflated with the former decade. I really liked Stephen Fry's production of Bright Young Things, based on Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh. The lost generation post WW1 was well documented with the excesses of Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda; the bohemian extremes of Gertrude Stein etc., the nudity of Mistangette and in Germany the expressionist work of cineastes with films like the Blue Light, Louise Brookes etc. It varied from city to city, country to country. One thing that Fry discussed does ring true; life became incredibly fast very quickly; cocaine was not illegal; many elements. In his words, telephones were suddenly not utilitarian but ways for people to communicate; many many things like that. Art Nouveau did make way for Art Deco; to what extent that penetrated everyday life is not clear. Sorry that this comment is already much too long; it was a fascinating period. And thank you for a great post!

  14. Can you evaluate the costumes in Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries? I’ve always wondered if they were historically accurate

  15. Why would you ever want to wear a little black dress for a 1920s theme, like do they remember who made it? Ms. Coco “I’m a nazi spy” Chanel

  16. You folks are close. She's actually a 400-year-old vampire. One of the good ones, like Katja Stanic in Curse of the Judas Chalice.

  17. Coming back here because I'm about to do a photoshoot for a 1920s dance performance and I'm pretty sure most people don't have a clue. Meanwhile, I'm trying to schmooze my very amateur 1910s style prom dress to look later…like people probably actually did. :/

  18. This entire video is essentially a well Justified rant about how little people understand about the evolution of their own history. History and culture will naturally affect the garments of the age. People can learn so much by observing the Fashions of old, especially during war times when rationing became a huge ordeal.

  19. I seem to recall that most of the silent makeup came from stage tradition where big makeup helped the last row see some indication of expression on the stars' faces.

  20. Ugh, i remember an old guy from my church saying “it all went downhill in the 1920s; that’s when women started wearing those short skirts, and slutty clothes” i think i should tie him to a chair and make him watch this video. And then leave him there. I don’t think anyone would miss him.

  21. My family has been costuming for over 100 years, I've had this conversation so many damn times lol about several eras, but 20s is always a big one

  22. 1.3k dislikes, I'm willing to bet a lot of money that most of those are from some fragile people that got upset the moment you had an annotation that said 'old Hollywood was pretty racist'.

  23. I love your lipstick shade I must say .Is it called Ruby Woo from Mac or something else ? Anyway with your hair twisted up with a silk tie you look beautiful ,my mum was born in 1929 and really enjoyed this too .Thank you Sophie x

  24. Flat chest. Check.
    No butt. Check.
    A little bit "meaty". Check.

    I was born in the wrong era. I could have been an icon of fashion!

  25. Was obvious makeup long before the 20s, the Georgians wore very heavy makeup, and the ancient Egyptians were make up experts!

  26. I like listening to you talking about these things. The way you speak is almost if you were there. I like to think of you as an imortal being who just lived through all the eras and that's why you know what people wore.

  27. Hemm-hemm
    Last time I got an ancle-long skirt for a teenage-girl, half a year later, it barely covered her back….bone….

  28. I love listening to you talk about this subject. To be honest I did not know what 1920s fashion looked like outside of stereotypes but I wanted to know so I’m so glad I found this video

  29. I love how you are so passionate about the historical mindsets and fashions, its like me with history in general…but people forget that the small little bubbles in each historic setting has reason, cause, purpose, and even an ideology. I think it's way to easy for people to just think of the past as some misunderstood chapter in human growth.

  30. What are your thoughts on "the house of Elliot" series, about a fashion house in the 1920 ies? Is it accurate?

  31. I specifically cut my hair shorter- further forward and over the top layers- and left the underneath, and further back longer. I did this a few years ago, and just keep it trimmed.

    That way, I could choose between "short" hair and "long" hair. (I change my mind a lot).

    I also have a fringe, but I always have.

    I had no idea this was done in the 1920's. I just thought I was being odd.

    Although, it really does offer a wider variety of hairstyles.

    Just wanted to share.

    Thank you for a wonderful video!

  32. My grandmother was busty and she complained she had to wrap her chest really tight. And she had the wrong figure. My mom was born in 1927.

  33. My grandpa was a tailor. When I discussed turn of the century (1900) styles with my grandmother, she told me that when they married shortly before WWI, "My husband shortened my skirts." I responded, "Yes, to the tops of your high button boots; scandalous!" Showing of knees was only for streetwalkers.

  34. How do you know you're not in the 20's? Because you have to end a joke by saying "joke". Dear oh dear. Oh there's another clue, you consider identifying with your ethnic group (your extended family) to be racist.

  35. The long gloves were worn for dinner anytime you had a white tie occasion because black tie Is casual i but if it's formal you have on gloves and it stays that way we'll the 70s opera length dinner gloves are done but i know my gloves and white tie formal rules if you were having dinner and were well bred you wore gloves till well the 70s 60 evening wear featured long gloves and I know the 50s did because my grandmother always has gloves on in the pictures from the 50s she wore lots if Dior so that was huge .I think the 70s saw them go for good the urge for glamour after the war brought them back because they did fade but for a certain group like if you were a debutante you always wore gloves and it never faded

  36. I could never be an ideal flapper. I have too much of a curvy body of a 1930s gal. When I was a size 4, I had what my dad calls the old Coca-cola bottle shape, which he explained further to me was the very ideal in 1930s and 1940s. This could explain why clothing from those eras looked really nice on me during my skinny years. I also looked rad in 1970s clothing. ^_^ I loved my palazzo pants with loose collar buttoned shirts… really comfy clothing. I do want to get back at that, which is a slow process, but I'm one dress size away to my goal again. ^_^ I just need to get away from stressful family members. Anyways thank you for your video. Really informative and clear cut. Thank you so much for the time you took to make this. thumbs up

  37. I have tried to google this so many times, but I can not find out why makeup came back for women only. We went from little to no makeup back to wearing it more overtly, but why only for women?

  38. Could the flat silhouette be of Oriental influence? Some of the clothes I've seen in pictures from back in the day seem to denounce some kind of Orientalism/Oriental influence, so I wonder if the flat ideal might not also be related to this.

  39. Wish I could post pics of my grandmother in her 1920s heyday. She looked like the cats pajamas, a real Miss. Fisher Murder Mysteries (one of my favorite lady detective series) type gal. The 20s is by far my favorite fashion era, from golden age Hollywood glamour to the plain attire worn by everyday ladies.

    We must face it, the reality tv loving masses usually demand things simplified, a condensed perfect version of everything that only tells them what they already believe is true.

  40. The great thing about dressing vintage is you can choose which era to represent based on your God given silhouette. I always feel bad for the ladies in the 20's who were "cursed" with boobs and hips. They were just out of luck fashion-wise. I would never have been able to look good in those clothes.
    (See :16 – :25)

  41. the first half of the 1920's was pretty much the same as the late teens. Then the influx of all the new technology- films, the airplane, the first electrical appliances- added to the pop culture at the time, particularly the well to do and big city people. By the 1929 Market Crash, the 20's free and easy stereotype had been instilled.

  42. Show more pictures, or you could model some self made looks, yourself. Where are you from? I picked up an accent. Good video, but need more visuals. Thank you..love the Kitty..

  43. Thank you so much for making this video! I wanted to be a 1920s person for halloween, but now I know to just call it a flapper girl costume instead of a 1920s costume

  44. Have you ever seen Miss Fisher’s murder mysteries, and if you have, what do you think of the shows 20s costuming? Do you think they mostly head on the nail, or there are still a few inaccuracies?

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