1920s

1920s

Catalogue Home 1930s 1940s/1950s/1960s

Date Artist Medium Description Additional Information Cultural Significance
Women in various elegant daywear featuring cloche hats Mid 1920s Artist Unknown Drawing on paper Women in various elegant daywear featuring cloche hats The close-fitting cloche hat was often embellished and a clear symbol of the flapper girl, who wore her hair in a close-cut bob that was often angled. Prohibition in the 1920s meant to foster temperance, but instead fostered intemperance and rebellion, which carried into fashion and society.
Women in embellished hats 1920s Artist Unknown Watercolor Women in embellished hats Accessories as well as garments in the 1920s were embellished with exotic patterns inspired by orientalism. Millinery became a way to cross economic divides in order to allow the wider population to embrace modern style and trends.
"Spring Opening" advertisement of woman with fan 1920s Artist unknown (advertisment attributed to Whitthorne & Swan) Original pencil sketch “Spring Opening” advertisement of woman with fan Whitthorne & Swan was a department store in Oakland, California, which offered items such as luggage, needlepoint samplers, fur and maternity wear. Accessories in the 1920s added further appeal, as the flapper era was one of freedom and dramatic expression.
Women and young girls dressed in the latest fashions, featuring Zenith washing machine Mid 1920s Whitthorne and Swan (dept store) Drawing on paper Women and young girls dressed in the latest fashions, featuring Zenith washing machine Zenith not only produced washing machines, but a host of other products, including bicycles. Prior to the stock market crash, the 1920s were also known for excess. As the economy was booming, people could afford new products which added to a more fast-paced lifestyle.
Gerwin's accessory advertisement 1920s Artist unknown Drawing on paper Gerwin’s accessory advertisement Turban style hats created a vertical appeal as headwear became an exotic trend in the 1920s. Women’s wardrobes became much more diverse with the addition of separates, handbags, and millinery, which offered trendy alternatives. Shopping in catalogues and department stores in addition to the local dressmaker’s shop provided more options for consumers.
Woman in a drop-waist ruffled dress Early 1920s D.W. Original Sketch Woman in a drop-waist ruffled dress As ruffles require extra fabric, flouncy dresses were a sign of the post WWI era. Coco Chanel often used colorful chiffons in her designs, as well as textiles such as tulle and lace to create a more modern-styled romantic garment.
Women in full length coats and daywear 1920s Bess Williams Drawing on paper Women in full length coats and daywear Many 1920s garments were heavily inspired by Art Deco and were decorated accordingly with geometric panels and box pleats. The United States ratifies the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote as they embodied an androgynous persona.
Women in daywear with featured accessories Mid 1920s Bess Williams Drawing on paper Women in daywear with featured accessories Women in the 1920s were offered variety in their daytime wardrobes regarding millinery, which could be close-fitting or exaggerated with high crowns and brims. As the movie industry gained in popularity, glamorous actresses brought fashion to every small community across the US, expanding stylish trends.
Images of women and children in various fashion styles Mid 1920s Artist unknown Drawings on paper Images of women and children in various fashion styles including ensembles related to maternal influences Children’s clothing became much more practical in the 1920s, adding to its marketability while providing comfort and freedom of movement. The sailor collar with tie for women of all ages was in vogue as sportswear embodied associations to menswear during a period that craved equality of the sexes.
Illustrations of glamorous fashions with unique trimmings 1920s Artist unknown Drawings on paper Illustrations of glamorous fashions with unique trimmings featuring childrenswear and the wraparound clutch coat Ornate accessories to complement fashions were common, and this extended to stockings as well. Silk stockings came in many patterns, from Asian inspired motifs to geometric prints. They also came in many colors, which women would match to their dresses. Elegant furs and high-end textiles were common as a means to define status.
Advertisement for "toilet sets" 1920s Artist unknown Drawing on paper Advertisement for "toilet sets" Toilet sets were collections of brushes and tools for everyday grooming. The short haircuts synonymous with the 1920s weren’t accepted by salons, so many women patronized barber shops instead. Textured styles such as finger or Marcel waves were popular.
Woman in flapper style dress 1920s Artist unknown Drawing on paper Woman in a flapper style dress Pleats used more fabric and celebrated the financial and social excesses of the 1920s while also adding movement to fashion during the Jazz era. Many young, talented individuals began to gather in fashionable cafes, exchanging ideas and passing the time. This was coined as Cafe Society, and the concept was very romanticized.
Women drinking tea in daywear inspired by Joan Crawford's tailored sophistication Late 1920s Artist Unknown Drawing on paper Women drinking tea in daywear inspired by Joan Crawford’s tailored sophistication At the turn of the decade, hems dropped as a desire to fight against the bleak economic picture. A new textile printing technique called “grinning” emerged, where images and different colors were separated by white in order to prevent dye from bleeding or mixing colors. This allowed for faster production with fewer mistakes, but with bold results.
Illustrations of pencil sharpeners 1920s Artist unknown Drawing on paper Illustration of pencil sharpeners The Hunt Pen Company acquired a pencil-sharpener manufacturing company at this time. In the 1920s, John Dewey was traveling in the name of Progressive Education, a movement that encouraged much more hands-on learning and learning by experience.

Photography by David Parnes