1930s: Seeking Distraction

Black Tuesday, the day of the Stock Market Crash on October 29, 1929, seemed to drop a veil of restraint over American society that lasted through World War II. Fashion of the 1930s found inspiration in moving pictures as Americans escaped to the movie theaters to set aside their daily struggles during the Great Depression.

The Great Depression meant hard times for most families, and the push back on working women was severe. Women in the workforce were viewed as taking a job from a man, and they were encouraged to return to more traditional roles. At the same time, women’s fashion regained feminine lines. The waistline returned to its natural place, casting off the styles of the 1920s that concealed a woman’s waist by extending the waist to the hip line resulting in a boyish figure. In the 1930s, tailored dresses were often belted further giving women a waist, and bias cut fabrics draped to hug a woman’s curves to accent a more rounded female figure. Skirts became longer, shoulders were sometimes padded. It was as if the girls of the 1920s grew up and fashion said “The party is over.”