Tuesday, March 30, 2010

1920s: The boyish look

Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Loretta reports:

Among ourselves as well as with you, Susan & I have talked about which fashion eras seem to be more flattering to one time of life than another.  We’ve agreed that the fashions of the Regency era were more flattering to slender, youthful figures than to more…er…mature, curvaceous ones.  Bosoms were in fashion, though, and generously displayed in the evening.

In the 1920s, too, a youthful look ruled.  But it was a boyish look.  I didn’t fully realize how boyish, however, until the latest posts arrived from one of my new favorite blogs, the FIDM Museums & Galleries.  The dress on display, Rachel points out, has no darts!  That’s when it really sank in.

Today, while the “ideal” is tall & skinny, women are also supposed to have cleavage.  You know: the Barbie look.  It’s so important that some of us who don’t own that sort of real estate go out and buy it.

But not back in Clara Bow’s day.  Interesting that the It Girl (at left above) offers us a very sexy display of back instead.  I’ve put Greta Garbo up as well (at right below) because hers was that ideal figure.

But few of us possess the ideal figure, for then or now.  I will never be as tall as Frances Stuart or the Countess of Castlemaine, let alone a runway model, and it’s a good bet that my skinny days are behind me.  While I can appreciate beautiful clothes on the right body, I do fantasize about a greater variety of “right body” in designers’ repertoires.  And so I couldn’t help cheering when I followed Rachel’s suggestion and took a look at Prada’s fashions for fall

Check it out, and check out the FIDM Museum & Galleries blog.  You'll find there as well a whole fresh post devoted to the beautiful cloche hat.

Both photos courtesy Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA. (1) Undated photo of Clara Bow.  (2) Greta Garbo and Mauritz Stiller, 8/17/25.


Vanessa Kelly said...

Good God! Some of those Prada models look positively normal! And the clothes are beautiful, I must say.

LorettaChase said...

Vanessa, I too was astonished. They not only looked normal, but they looked interesting--individual. Maybe that's a drawback. Maybe designers prefer we focus on the clothes, but I thought the models' not looking like clones enhanced the clothes--which I agree are beautiful.

mem said...

my mother, who was a teen in the 1920s, used to talk about her distress with flapper "sheath" dresses. she had a copious bosom and her aunt, who made most of her clothes, had to carefully make all her dresses six inches longer in front than in back so that they would hang straight. mother was pretty pleased when shirtwaist dresses came back in the 30s and 40s and even more pleased with pantsuits - after my wedding in 1972 i never saw her wear a dress again.

Lady Burgley said...

Wonderful post. The photo of Clara Bow is astounding. Oh, that dress! Can you imagine how shocking such a dress that had so little support (not to mention back) must have looked to people who remembered the bosomy, whale-bone S-curve of the Belle Epoque?

Isabella Bradford/Susan Holloway Scott said...

I particularly like Clara's mask: "Who cares if I'm as good as naked so long as I can hide behind this mask?" Also love her eye make-up, which must have been pretty scandalous, too.

Cherrise said...

Oh that pic of Clara Bow is too hot!
Another of those wild flappers was Louise Brooks. They were totally modern women.


Mme.Tresbeau said...

What a contrast here on this page between Clara Bow and Elizabeth Blackwell! But that's what makes the Nerdy Girls such fun isn't it?

Rachel said...

You make a great point! Sometimes really looking at a construction detail drives home a point about the garment, era, etc. So glad you found this post informative! Back on our blog (FIDM Museum) it inspired some interesting comments.

LorettaChase said...

Rachel, thank you for being such a great teacher. I really love your blog!

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