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Designers Revisit Depression Era Chic
By Sarah-Louise Boyd and Joanne Bennett

As summer reaches its peak and the mercury hits new highs, those with an eye for fashion are already looking toward the cooler weather to come, questioning whether plaids or ruffles should influence their autumn style. Where do they look? Why, to bible of fashion, of course: Vogue.

Hailed an essential by fashionistas everywhere, Vogue is the guidebook for trends past, present and future. Designers know this, too, and often study the pages of previous eras to inspire their new creations. Remember the introduction of skinny jeans? That was “so 1980s”. The blast of block colors and A-line dresses in stores this past spring? It was “so 1960s”. Fashion is cyclical, darling, and for the upcoming fall/winter lines, the 1930s are what’s en vogue.

Contrary to popular belief, the Depression Era was far from depressing. In fact, this was an historic time when it came to fashion trends. During the Roaring Twenties, women had shed their constrictive corsets and hobble-skirts for more liberated looks. They opted for practicality over opulence, favoring the straight shift cut of flapper dresses and Coco Chanel’s comparatively casual style. But the looks were purposefully boyish and minimized the impact of women’s feminine wiles. During the Thirties, fashion moved back from the practical, shapeless cuts of the 1920s to ladylike outfits that emphasized the female form while still focusing on simpler designs that offered freedom of movement.

The Fall 2008 ready-to-wear line from John Galliano featured 1930s-inspired bias-cut gowns
The Fall 2008 ready-to-wear line from John Galliano featured 1930s-inspired bias-cut gowns
While Twenties fashions downplayed busts and hips under column shaped dresses and mannish pants, women of the Thirties clamored to embrace their curves. Hemlines dropped dramatically to reflect the more somber mood of the post-crash economy, and daytime suits and dresses were neatly tailored, featuring wide shoulders and nipped waistlines to create a slender hourglass silhouette. Fabrics like rayon and fine wool crepes draped intriguingly across the thighs and fell into pretty pleats. Evening gowns were cut on the bias to emphasize a woman’s sensuous shape. By day, ladies of the 1930s wore sweet, feminine styles in muted hues, and by night, they favored sheer glamour, with shimmery metallics and shiny silks.

Fall fashions from Baby Phat hearken back to the glamour of the Depression Era
Fall fashions from Baby Phat hearken back to the glamour of the Depression Era
Many of today’s top designers are finding inspiration in the fluid forms of the 1930s for their 2008 collections. Spring and summer saw the resurgence of the light chiffons and subdued floral prints popular during the Depression era, a trend reflected on the big screen in the feature film Atonement. For fall, expect to see more true feminine glamour, with flowing fabrics, tiers of ruffles, and luxurious ropes of pearls in the ready-to-wear lines of names like John Galliano and Baby Phat.

To keep things modern, the romantic, girly looks may be a bit edgier for fall. Art Deco-inspired accessories, such as rhinestone jewelry and intricate lace handbags, also will be all the rage. So, keep your eye out for these 1930s styles, whether vintage or new, as the fashion industry makes new strides along the catwalk of history.

The Neiman Marcus Fall 2008 accessories preview featured 1930s-inspired designs (Fashion Wire Daily/Renata Espinosa) Click to view full-size image
The Neiman Marcus Fall 2008 accessories preview featured 1930s-inspired designs (Fashion Wire Daily/Renata Espinosa) Click to view full-size image


8 Comments to “1930s FASHION REVIVAL”

  1. on 11 Jul 2008 at 5:14 amNatalie Ellwanger

    Good news…love it!

  2. on 12 Aug 2008 at 5:23 pmCathy

    This is awesome! I am definitely saving this in my favorites!

  3. on 28 Aug 2008 at 11:42 americhansa

    Beautiful. stop breathing.

  4. on 16 Oct 2008 at 10:27 pmapril mckenzie

    we are dressing back in the 30s trying to see what women wore?

  5. on 29 Jul 2009 at 8:24 amZavon

    luved it

  6. on 03 Sep 2009 at 8:43 amDeborah

    Where do I find gold Baby Phat dress from depression era

  7. on 03 Feb 2011 at 4:48 pmJ. Koch

    Thanks for the informative piece. I’m doing some research for a pen and paper RPG storyline set in a sort of alternate history showcasing the ’20′s and ’30′s so this was helpful, fun, and interesting.

  8. on 10 Feb 2011 at 1:06 pmlala

    wow thanks im doing a project on this and this had some really good pictures thanx!

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