The beginning of the 1930’s marked the beginning of The Great Depression. The Great Depression was a critical international economic depression. Although the beginning of the Great Depression changed in different countries, but in most nations it began in 1930 and lasted throughout the entire 1930’s and eventually passed during the middle of the 1940s. It was the longest, most widespread and deepest depression of the 20th century.
There was also a huge class difference that had opened up between the rich and the poor, the differences being vast. There was a major class conflict- although the richest people in America lost a lot of money when the stock market plummeted during the depression, they still owned a lot of money and did not need to seek employment when the poor did. They could afford to keep servants, they could continue to run two houses both in London and a country house, they could still afford to travel, shop in designer boutiques and continued to be well educated.
However, at the other end of social class, there were poor families of 8 or more that would live in 2 or 3 rooms with no running water, or no inside toilet. They were more than often unemployed and seeked jobs urgently. 10,000 people lost their jobs and people couldn’t afford food.
The fashion concept of this point in time contrasted vastly. Fashion portrayed an elegant and sophisticated image as a reaction against the wild daring youthful fashion of the twenties. People often tried harder to appear well dressed and respectable.
The 30’s was a much quieter era, and contrasted with the roaring twenties. Due to the depression many people couldn’t afford to take part in as many lie surly activities and had a lot of emphasis on how people dressed and behaving in a respectable manner.
At the end of the 1920’s, millinery became popular and available for those in the 1930’s. Almost everyone, both male and female wore a hat or a cap when going out.
As well as hats, men would only sit in shirt sleeves in the privacy of their own home, and did not fully dress into a suit when at home. Even those with very little money would try to have a ‘sunday best’ suit.
As tailoring became expensive, Burtons soon opened in the thirties. They sold affordable mens tailoring and both upper and lower classes bought form them.
Womens wear became more feminine, with rounder busts, a slightly more curvaceous figure, longer hair and wore bias cut clothing with frills. They wore their hair waved with the forehead exposed. Quite a significant change from the boyish figure of the twenties where they hid their forehead with scarfs or a fringe. They also had plate shaped hats that were worn towards the back of the head.
One of the most glamorous leading ladies of the 1930s and 1940s, Marlene Dietrich is remembered for her smoldering sex appeal, distinctive voice, and unusual personal style.
Cinema and films became popular in the 30’s, it involved many significant films. 1939 was one of the biggest years (and still is one of the greatest years) in Hollywood.
Going to the movies made fashion accessible to a wider audience and the hollywood image was absorbed by Paris designers and was then reproduced for everyone to wear.
Another silhouette had emerged, clothes were made more figure hugging, they were nipped in at the waist, the shoulders were widened and skirts were now long and narrow again.
The hem lines were uneven and Godets or pleats were set in below the knee instead of hip level like back in the twenties.
The way people dressed for smart occasions changed. They wore short Bolero jackets, gloves and wore also evening gloves to match gowns.
The shoulders were dramatically enlarged and stood out as they were more squared.
The revolutionary invention of nylon fibre led to the creation of stockings.
Fancy dress appeared during the 30’s too. Couturiers were inspired by historical periods and a vast array of countries and cultures.
By the end of the decade the fashion scene was so varied. It was very extravagant yet confused, and was perhaps reflecting the disorder and chaos of a world about to plunge into the catastrophe of world war 2.
At the end of the 1930’s was the beginning of the Second World War, and following the start of the war- fashion became very limited, the fashion industry came to a stand still and the last fashion collections of the decade were showed.
Clothes Rationing began on June 1, 1941- two years after food rationing started. Clothes rationing ended on 15 March 1949. Clothes rationing began because there was a shortage of materials to make them. As new clothes weren’t a luxury, people were encouraged to ‘make do and mend’.
Factories had to prepare materials for use in the war, like silk parachutes and uniforms. Metals were also not made in clothing, like zips and metal buttons as the metal used was needed for war.
Although this decade had began with depression, began a world war, most of the population left unemployed and everyone was panic-stricken, the fashion industry still continued to create a resemblance of sophistication, new flair and grace.