A History of
1930s Fashion

In the 1930s fashion was a rather more sober affair than it had been in the roaring twenties.  The hedonism and wild partying had given way to the Depression years after the Wall Street Crash in 1929, and life became rather more serious.

However, that didn't mean that interest in fashion disappeared in the 1930s.  In many ways, it became more important for women to make an effort to feel beautiful to counteract the difficulties of their everyday lives.  But rather than frivolous flapper dresses, women, who were now an important part of the workforce wanted to be taken seriously.

Tailoring was back, with well-fitting, well-cut suits and dresses.  Day wear was very distinct now from evening wear. Women always looked smart on the street and hats were always worn.  Coats and jackets were tailored and most often of wool.  1930s dress design was curvier, more feminine than before and always smart. Go straight to buy 1930s dresses here. 

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Lytham St. Annes for Sea Breezes and ...
W. Smithson Broadhead
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The lovely posters on this page are available to buy. Click on your favourite to get to Art.com where the posters are available in different qualities, sizes and prices.  For original fashion prints, click here.

Hair styles become less severe and softer, and hats were smaller and worn at a jaunty angle.  Fox furs were common in the 1930s to add a touch of glamour or a little feather in the hat brim for decoration. 

1930s Fashion for men

Men always wore suits and hats outside the house. Remember the old grandad shirts with no collars?  I used to love to wear a vintage one of those with jeans when I was a teenager.  Well those were worn with the stiff collars which were kept in those lovely leather collar boxes.  And there weren't usually buttons on the cuffs, so men would have cufflinks. It was a tough time, and so people made an extra effort to look respectable, even if they were struggling financially. 

Hollywood Screen Goddesses

Hollywood was a big influence though.  It was a means of escape from the pressures of life to go to the pictures and see the screen goddesses in their gorgeous dresses.  Man made fibres such as rayon meant that even though silk was now unaffordable it was possible for women to have lovely dresses and elegant lingerie, though they often made them themselves.

1930s fashion, 1930s lingerie

1936 Lingerie from NSW State Library on Flickr

Movie stars and celebrities also had a great influence on women's choices of wedding dresses. 

1930s Fashion catalogues

Clothes were also now available in ready to wear through the department stores and lots of women would have chosen their wardrobes from a catalogue such as the gorgeous ones from Sears pictured in this book.

For more Art Deco and fashion books, and for UK and Australian buyers, click here.


Dress patterns were cheap, and every woman would know how to sew.  Zippers were now readily available and made clothes much more practical, and the new nylons made stockings so much more attractive and sleek. 

Of course, women wore trousers now, particularly for sport, (an innovation begun by Coco Chanel in the 1920s) but these still showed off the curves and blouses were tucked in to show off the waist.  The jumper came into popular wear for women, with fair-isle patterns and the twin set worn with skirts or trousers.

The craze for fitness and health continued into the 1930s.  Afterall, exercise and the beach were free, and bathing costumes became ever more revealing and glamorous.

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Perfecta Swimwear Beach
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Nowadays there are still lots of 1930s clothes around.  People took care of their clothes and made them to last in those days.  So its possible to buy original 1930s garments at very reasonable prices.

Buy 1930s Dresses Here

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