The 1930’s was a decade that was scattered with a series of changes within the people of America, most of which were due to the Great Depression. One of the many areas of the everyday life of Americans that went through a series of changes was the clothing style of women. In order to assess the impact that the Great Depression had on America, it is important to take note of the fashion fads that emerged during the same time period.
Due to the poor economic state of the United States of America during the 1930s, clothing designers began producing clothing that was both less costly and “that featured a quality of timeless elegance in contrast to the flamboyant ‘flapper’ look of the 1920s.” This “new look” would be one that includes elongated hemlines with slender, accentuated waistlines; a look that is very much similar to the styles of of clothing in the modern era (Feinstein 15). The clothing that a woman would wear on a day-to-day basis consisted of dresses scattered with incomplex patterns paired with shoes with heels stubbier than the ones found on heels worn in the 1920s. During the 1930’s, women tended to skip the makeup and go for a more “natural” look while performing their daily duties. In contrast, the clothing worn during the evening were much more elegant, with the addition of puffed sleeves, and lengthened hemlines, which followed the “new look” of the 1930s. However, the maintenance of the look was expensive, and in order to keep up with the trends while living during a financially difficult time, women would opt to lengthen the hemlines of their dresses by sewing on a strip of fabric or fur to the bottom of the skirt. (Galli 296).
Due to the difficulties presented by the Great Depression, women ended up having to wear the same clothing each season. Because of this, the importance of accesories increased due to its ability to give women’s clothing a newer look (Feinstein 16). Examples of accessories used would include belts and shoes (Lewis 295). Belts rose in popularity due to its ability to accentuate waistlines, which was a feature that many women desired to have. This popularity boost resulted in the addition of belts with embellished fastenings and straps made with leather or a material similar to leather. The 1930s also saw the rise in popularity of numerous amounts of shoe styles such as strappy sandals, open-toed shoes, and wedge soles. These shoes would be sold to the public made of satin-like material, metallic material, or material that mimics the scaly pattern of a reptile’s skin (Galli 295).Not only did the clothing styles change during the 30s, but there was also a significant amount of diffusion of cosmetic products during the same decade.
This is due to the different trends presented by Hollywood. The film industry began to dramatize fashion, putting more emphasis on more elegant designs which left women with a desire to emulate the actresses on their screen. This prompted manufacturers to design “Hollywood fashion items” in order to cater to the wants of the women.
Another thing that women would do to get the Hollywood look would be to echo the makeup, hair and accessories that were seen on women in Hollywood. This desire to emulate the Hollywood fads was what paved the way for the creation of artificial nails, eyelashes, and hair extensions and what fostered the inclination towards the thin penciled arch shape of the eyebrow (Galli 297).In conclusion, the 1930’s was a huge turning point for women’s fashion as the innovations brought about styles and materials that continue to be popular in the 21st century. The rapid evolution of the women’s fashion industry exemplify the innovations of the common people as they faced they battled with the hurdles that were presented to them by the Great Depression.