How to Wear 1920s Fashion Women
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A little more than a century ago, a certain style of clothing became synonymous with the era: the short-sleeved, low-cut, “waistcoat,” which meant that it was made of a cotton-fibre material that had a softer feel than wool.
The “waismeck” (pronounced “whisteck”) had a long, narrow waist, and it was worn in formal settings, including restaurants, clubs, saloons and theaters.
It had been popular in Britain, America and Germany, and, for some, it became a staple for women in the US, with a wide variety of styles and colours.
Women from the 1890s on, however, were not as fussy about the look as they are today, with style becoming less important than practicality.
“The waistcoat has gone,” says designer Jodie Hill, author of the forthcoming book The 1920s: Fashion in America, 1890-1920, which traces the rise of the waistcoat from its origins in the British Isles to its popularisation in the American colonies.
She adds: “Women had very different needs, and they could afford to do things differently.
If you wanted to wear a coat that didn’t show your belly button, you could get it done with a waistcoat.”
It’s an era that is often celebrated as the beginning of the era of the high-waisted, low cut.
Hill’s book is the first to tell the full story of the rise and fall of the long-waist, low waist, from the late 1880s to the 1920s, when the long sleeved, high-cut style became the dominant style.
This is partly because the rise in prices of fabrics such as cotton and silk meant that many women’s waists were now short.
By the 1920, the waist was now becoming an acceptable option for most women.
However, the rise to power of the First Lady and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt led to the demise of the low cut, with its long, pointed edges and “waistspreaders” (short skirts) becoming the norm.
According to Hill, the first high-rise fashion style, the “waista” or “waite,” was a low-waisting, high waistcoat with long sleeves.
In the late 1920s and 1930s, there were a number of fashion designers who took to the high waist, but they weren’t the same as the Waistcoat Era.
Instead, Hill says, designers “tried to create something that wasn’t as much of a waist coat, and I think it was just a bit of a bit more formal”.
Today, many women have a waist and dress that is more tailored, while others choose to wear what Hill calls “the modern low cut”, which she says “looks and feels very feminine”.
“I think there’s a lot of confusion between the two, because if you look at the waist, you know it’s going to be a little bit more casual, and if you wear it with a high waist coat it’s a very formal look.”
Hill says the “Waistcoat era” was also the time when many women started wearing high-heeled boots, a trend that would continue into the 1950s and 1960s.
But as Hill notes, high heels, while fashionable, have been out of fashion since the 1960s, with the rise, among other things, of the ankle boot.
Some designers, however have continued to try and replicate the Waistspreader Era.
For example, fashion designer Marisa Hidalgo has been making high-quality, low waisted, high cut styles for years, using fabrics such the “bunny sole” (a soft cotton material with a softer, more feminine feel than traditional wool) and the “faux leather” (the fabric of which is made from animal skins).
“She’s really made a range of low waist styles, which are designed for different occasions,” Hill says.
Her “lady shoe” (low waisted high cut), which is a low cut high heel, is a “totally different take” on the Waismeekers style.
Hill says: “It’s a dress that looks like it’s made of rubber and feels like it has a rubber sole.
It’s a low waist shoe.
“Waist-wear has been very much about creating that balance, that feeling that a dress is not just a dress,” Hill continues. “
And it’s kind of cute in a way because it’s such a low waisting style.”
“Waist-wear has been very much about creating that balance, that feeling that a dress is not just a dress,” Hill continues.
Today it is not only the waist and shoes that are at the centre of fashion, but also about gender and fashion.
While Hill’s book will be the first book to trace the history of the Waispreader era, she
A little more than a century ago, a certain style of clothing became synonymous with the era: the short-sleeved, low-cut,…