The Mysterious Allure of the Twenties

Ever since I got into historical fashion, the allure of the 1920s kind of alluded me. The level of weirdness that the twenties possessed ranked up there with the big sleeves of the 1830s and wide hip paniers of the 1750s-80s. The complete lack of hips and chest, both of which I have plenty of, along with the sudden departure from previous fashions, confused me, and pushed me away for a long time.

Then I ended up costuming a play set in the 1924, and ended up making twelve twenties dresses in four weeks, and designing six others. And you know what?

They grew on me – quite a bit. The fashions of the twenties are now regarded with fondness in my mind, and I find myself drawn to their aesthetic more and more.

Original 1920s dresses - Credit - Dear Golden

The way that the fabric becomes a canvas for embellishment and the lightness with which embellishment is accomplished is simply entrancing. In a stiff fabric, the columnar look of the twenties looses its appeal, but in soft chiffons, crepes, georgettes and voiles? It’s simply magical.

One of my reproductions, in green silk chiffon

One of the things I’ve noticed about my 1950s dress is that they’re so structured that they get very warm in the summer. It’s great in the winter, but even the smallest amount of heat is sweltering this year, thanks to an unusually cold spring. Slipping on a light 1920s dresses over only a cotton slip is absolutely delightful. It’s like wearing a beautiful whisper – light, delicate, not at all tight but still figure hugging enough to be flattering.

Three reproduction 1920s dress on stage

Looking back on the images of the show that I did, I can’t get over the simple charm of many of the dresses I made. Even unembellished, they have a quiet beauty that evaded me for a long time. Using a great deal of color defenitely helped tide me over to the side of the 20s, but even the neutral and white dresses have a loveliness all their own.

I’m not sure if I’ll ever warm up to hip paniers and big sleeves accompanied by matching massive collars. But I’m glad I gave the 20s a chance, and now that it’s summer time I’m looking forward to dabbling in them again.

Links of interest for the 1920s:
– Vintage Pattern Lending Library’s 1920s Patterns – I can’t recommend VPLL enough. Janice, the owner, is wonderful to work with and the patterns are simply lovely. Plus, they have an awesome rewards program!
Vintage Textile – Beautiful original dresses!
Woodland Farms Vintage – A lovely collection of original dresses. Currently they have some slips and pajamas on display that are lovely as well.
The Frock – Possibly the most beautiful collection of vintage dresses for sale online right now. It’s a bit hard to sort through their offerings, but well worth the trouble!


2 thoughts on “The Mysterious Allure of the Twenties

  1. I see exactly what you mean. I love working with vintage patterns, my favourites being the late 30’s to early 50’s because i love the structure of them and how the accentuate womanly curves. I never though i would love the 20s and the shapes, as you said that don’t embrace anything of womanhood, but recently they have sidled into my life and even found a warm place in my heart. I think its the femininity of the fabrics and colour palette, not to mention the fluidity of them when you wear then (that certainly gives them some girly fun), Just like the dresses you made, which by the way are beautiful!

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