Beginning around World War I, western fashion allowed women greater freedom of movement. The Victorian bustles, suffocating corsets and crinolines were gone, as were the Edwardian hobble skirts. Though there could be some fullness in the skirts, and sleeves were still long and buttoned at the wrists, dresses hung freely. As the 1920s dawned, hemlines rose and some outfits had short sleeves or were sleeveless. Colors became bolder with red being a popular choice.
The silhouette of dresses was very loose and almost baggy. The waist had dropped almost below the waist and skirts fell to the calf. Evening and wedding dresses skirts even ended just above the ankle. Hats, often made of straw or felt and banded with ribbon, were worn with the brims just above the eyes. Cloche hats were worn very snugly against the head, and the brim also came just above the eyes. Bridal headdresses followed the pattern. Made of tulle and trimmed with flowers, headdresses fit way down over the forehead, like cloche hats. This was in contrast to Victorian bridal tiaras, which sat high on the head to allow the face to be seen.
Shoes, Leisure Wear and Underwear
Shoes were made of leather and had sensible heels. They often had straps and buttons which didn't need hooks the way Victorian lace up boots did. Handbags were embroidered and, like the dresses, were baggy. Some women dared to wear slacks or jodhpurs as leisure wear in 1923. Women still wore bathing costumes made of wool, with sleeves and shorts. It wasn’t until the early 1930s that women began wearing one piece cotton bathing suits, sleeveless or with halter tops that even left the back bare. Even underwear was more comfortable. Corsets were still worn but were not like the whalebone corsets worn in the Victorian era. Corsets in 1923 were made of cotton, and though some had wire support they also benefited from elastic cord and adjustable suspenders.
Bias cut dresses and coats, cut on the diagonal, were also popular. Coats could be made of flannel, and some were trimmed with squirrel fur. They were also very loose.
Men's fashion didn't change nearly as much as women’s from the Victorian era, and, with the exception of synthetic fabrics, and the fact that hats are no longer de rigeur, hasn't changed much from the 1920s until now. Men wore double breasted suits and overcoats, belted jackets with box pleats, vents and wide pockets. The pants had turn ups or cuffs. Men wore ties and hats. The hats could be made of straw, and had wide brims and high crowns. Men wore one piece bathing suits. It wasn't until later in the decade that they started to wear swimming trunks. Formal wear was the tuxedo with lapels of silk satin, pleated trousers and wing collars. Men wore the same style of pajamas and bathrobes as they do now, though the underwear was a bit more involved, with side straps and buttons.