Fashion History – The Effect of World Events on Design Trends in the 1930’s and 1940’s

The stock market crash of 1929 effected a lot more than bank accounts. The ensuing Great Depression threw the world into a period of change that showed up at the dinner table and at fashion shows. Where a few short years before, the Roaring 20’s was a time of wild exuberance, fashion trends of the 1930’s followed the economy toward a new austerity that ruled fashion designs for the next 20 years.

In the 1930’s, women’s dresses showed a more tailored look than they had in the 1920’s. Where once women wore loose, short dresses adorned with fanciful decoration, they now wore longer skirts and higher waists. Skirts and dresses cut on the bias hugged hips and flared slightly below the knees. The new line was diagonal, a way to add interest to the tailored, simplified silhouette.

The new frugal styles did not end with the decade, however. World War II ushered in a different kind of austerity in ladies’ clothing styles. Fabric was restricted by governmental decree. Wool and nylon were needed by the military as well as the metal used for zippers. Where the 1930’s frugal styles displayed a sleek elegance, the clothing of the 1940’s were utilitarian.

During the war years, women enlisted in the military. They took on jobs formerly performed the men who had gone to war. Work clothing had to be functional. Women began to wear trousers at factory jobs and for casual wear.

In order to save money at the beauty parlor, women let their hair grow long in the 1940’s. The long hair, curled at the ends for a touch of femininity could be caught up in a twist for safety in industrial settings.

Most women knew enlisted men and as the whole country, and the world, marched off to war, fashions followed suit. A military style emerged in women’s clothing. Even dresses took on a military look with padded shoulders and neat, short skirts.

Recycling became necessary for the war effort. Women remade old blankets into jackets and learned to ‘make do’ with the new ‘war wise’ fashions.

Even when World War II ended, supplies were limited and fabric was expensive. When Christina Dior introduced his New Look in 1947, women were shocked at the extravagant use of fabric. The New Look introduced a new silhouette, an hour glass figure with longer hemlines, wide skirts and large, wide brimmed hats.

But, after 20 years of austere clothing design trends, the New look caught on and influenced ladies’ fashions for the next decade.

A Tour of Eyeglass Fashion History

We have all heard the saying, “The suit makes the man.” But, what about the eyewear? With styles changing as quickly as the weather one can be hard pressed to find just the right style. As you will quickly see, in the end the only thing that matters is what you like. But if you want a quick lesson in how it can effect the way others perceive you… take a look at some famous faces that set eyewear trends yesterday and today.

You have come a long way, baby! Or have we? We often tend to think that we have stumbled upon the latest greatest thing when it comes to fashion trends, including eyewear. But if we take a walk back through history just a few years we may find our choices today pale in comparison.

Let’s take stroll down memory lane through to our present day. As we look at people in history who, regardless of their careers, set the standard for eyewear in their own eras we will find styles as different, compelling as anything we can find today. In the 1950’s Grace Kelly was the picture of class and flawless style in eyewear that was never outlandish, yet stood out above the crowd for sophisticated design. Audrey Hepburn put Ray-Ban on the map in Breakfast at Tiffany’s (and you thought it was the Blues Brothers?). The Beatles enthralled us all with their small, rimless shades. Janice Joplin in turn appalled us all in her ghastly, large round shades that, despite everything, caught on quickly in the 70’s. Jacqueline Kennedy Onasis hid behind similar shades, large and dark with thick plastic frames. Nothing could have prepared us for The Fly, no wait! That was just Bono. No, wait again! It’s still Bono wearing the same ungodly shades, obviously stolen straight off the movie set.

The 80’s saw the revival of the Ray-ban shades that cost just enough to make any teen feel cool. The early 90’s are certainly to blame for Bono’s poor taste with the inception of Oakleys. No one was cool if they weren’t wearing those face hugging shades that cost entirely too much but made those working the Kiosk at the mall smile big. Today we have seen a resurgence of the big 70’s shades that not only protect our eyes, but our cheeks, ears and noses. Perhaps I am exaggerating, but not by much. I would be remiss to leave out the ever-popular prescription eyewear reminiscent of the Beatniks of the 60’s that I, admittedly, find quite appealing on any man! Today it is all about individual taste. Vintage, classic or futuristic – it is purely a matter of taste. There is a style for any mood, any price, and any trend you wish to follow.

Men’s Fashion History – The Origin of the Top Hat

Humans have covered their heads since the start of time. Initially the head wear was introduced as a protection product but then a whole generation of head wear came into being with top hats being the most favourite among people. The top hat, more commonly known by the nickname “topper” is a tall, flat-crowned, broad-brimmed hat. Starting from a mere head covering, this hat was worn mostly for ceremonial or religious occasions in the beginning but it ended up as a fashion accessory all around the world.

The origin of this hat dates back to the 17th century. It is difficult to exactly tell who invented these hats but generally the first silk top hat in England is credited to George Dunnage, a hatter from Middlesex, in 1793. John Hetherington was actually the person to invent this remarkable head wear. When he wore the hat in public for the first time, rumours have it that women fainted and children screamed, even the dogs got scared which caused an absolute uproar in the elite class and ultimately led to the arrest of this daddy of these hat. The charges filed included “intimidating people with a tall structure having a shining lustre.”

After this incident the game flipped, within the next twenty years almost all the social classes including the working class started wearing them and it was the 19th century when they started to get considered as being the symbol of urban respectability. Hat manufacturers in England made a good amount of money from these hats. These hats gained massive importance in politics and international diplomacy. They made so much of a statement that the word “Gentleman” got directly related to these hats.

This famous hat was not meant to be worn in a simple way. Style and fashion trends were introduced regarding the decision of how they should be worn. It is not known who set the standard but the fashion was to wear it tilted at 10 degrees, in any direction. This act shows that people had fashion and style sense even at that time.

In the 1950s, men wore these hats for business, pleasure and formal occasions, but later in the 1960s this trend started getting too old and classy, only the old men were seen wearing them. Soon the naked head became the new fashion. So, now the trend has become limited to people of a particular age. It’s really remarkable to see how fashion trends change over time.