After the razzmatazz of the Twenties, the 1930s had a lot to live up to. Plighted by the ‘Great Depression’, you could excuse the decade for losing a little sparkle. However, as with most economic downturns, cultural change thrives, and the Thirties was no exception.
Next up in our Throwback Thursday series, we’ve stepped away from the "Roaring Twenties" and moved into the 1930s. A huge decade for culture (in the throes of a worldwide recession), there’s a lot to be said for the years where the musical reigned, the Art Deco movement peaked and Marlene Dietrich introduced women to androgyny. From films to fashion, here's our round up of the 1930s.
During the Thirties, Hollywood swooped in to offer a little escapism from the negative reality and the Golden Age of Hollywood was born. Musicals were the most popular films during the Thirties and it was also the decade that helped to create the femme fatale, as pioneered by Marlene Dietrich in Morocco. This sparked a long-lasting trend for beautiful women in masculine clothes and androgyny.
Music, literature and the arts
The Thirties was the height of the Art Deco movement and where it really flourished globally. Its most famous creation was New York's Empire State Building which was completed in 1931. In Mexico, the 1930s also saw the rise of Frida Kahlo who had been heavily influenced by the work of Diego Rivera. Of course, true recognition for Kahlo's talent did not come until long after her death.
One of the biggest fashion trends throughout the 1930s was an attention at the shoulder, with butterfly and banjo sleeves. The decade also saw the first widespread use of man-made fibres such as rayon for dresses, viscose for linings and lingerie and synthetic nylon stockings. This was also the era that the zipper became widely used. Trendsetters in the 1930s included The Prince of Wales (Edward VIII) and Duchess of Windsor, as well as Hollywood movie stars such as Fred Astaire and Joan Crawford.
Although the cheery, hopeful feeling of the 1920s lasted through most of 1930, by the end of that year the effects of the Great Depression had started to take their toll. This brought with it a more conservative approach to fashion where skirts became longer and the waist-line resumed its traditional position in an attempt to bringing back the classic "womanly" look. Meanwhile, other elements of fashion from the Twenties took longer to go out of vogue such as cloche hats and short hair.
The most notable change brought on by the Great Depression for menswear was the fact colours became far more subdued. The bright colours donned in the 1920s went out of style, making way for greys and monochrome pieces. Suits were softer and more flexible in construction than the suits of the decade before. This was mostly down to extra fabric in the shoulder and armscye, light padding, a slightly nipped waist and fuller sleeves tapered at the wrist leading to a cut with flattering folds or drapes front and back that enhanced a man's silhouette.