A timeline history of Shoes and Fashion
CUT IT OUT, YOU’RE DEPRESSING ME
WHAT’S GOING ON?
The Great Depression. The American dream had become a nightmare and what was once the land of opportunity was now a land of desperation.
<Left: Detail. Petticoat Lane Market, London. 1930. K. Urban.
Between 1929 and 1932 the income of the average American family was reduced by 40%. Survival was the name of the game. People had to find inexpensive ways to amuse themselves; like board games, listening to the radio, following baseball, going to the movies and reading mystery novels. Agatha Christie anyone? No, The Thin Man! Yes, reading was exciting!
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And when it came to fashion forgetaboutit. Paris fashions became too expensive for anyone but the rich and the average person couldn’t afford to look at them never mind buy them. There was a new demand for clothes that were affordable, lasted a long time, and that didn’t go out of style every season and the fashion industry had to accommodate.
Right: Fashions from Butterick Fashion News, 1930>
Enter the simple print dress with a waistline and longer hem length. With zippers! Yes, zippers were used for the first time because buttons were too expensive. Things have to be pretty grim, if you can’t afford buttons. But despite the lack of variety of styles available, the 30’s did introduce some new hemlines: mid calf for daywear and long for evening. Hey, they had to amuse themselves somehow.
Movies were a big thing in the 30’s and the perfect way to dream away your woes. They influenced fashion with movie star endorsements of styles and accessories especially evening wear. Which of course, most people couldn't afford...
<Left:Marlene Dietrich. 1935.
A popular movie star look was the empire-waisted gown with ties at the back. Hollywood movie stars such as Bette Davis and Greta Garbo set fashion trends in dresses designed by Adrian and Muriel King
Furs were also big in this era which seems a bit extravagant if you ask me. Weren't they expensive? (Never mind the whole animal rights thing) Anyway, furs were worn anytime for any occasion. Fur capes, coats, stoles. You got it, they added fur to it.
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Surprisingly, a variety of shoe styles were available during these trying times; rounded toes with thick heels; pumps, flats, ankle straps with moderate heels; slip-ons, lace ups, buckled; spectator and two tones.
Right: Heeled Pump. 1936>
The new fad for outdoor activities brought sandals back into fashion. (Hey, you can only read and play board games so much.) We haven’t seen the sandal since Rome! They started out as beachwear then developed into party and eveningwear. Black was most common for day shoes but wine, maroon, and navy were also seen. For evening, plain court shoes were seen gadding about with asymmetrical trims, peep toes and sling back heels.
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You'll notice that men's fashion has not changed much since they got that fancy, frivolous look out of their systems back in the Rococo era. From then on men wore suits, pants, shirts, ties and hats and with that said we are forced to focus on the subtleties. So here goes...
Men wore suits (with squared shoulders, peaked lapels and tapered sleeves) or the double breasted suit (with squared shoulders and long, broad lapels), pants, shirts, ties and hats. The suits came in a wonderful array of colors: charcoal gray, steel gray, speckled gray, slate gray or just plain regular gray with an occasional midnight blue tossed in for good measure.
<Left: Detail. Baskins Fashions III. Hey, that guy's wearing brown! Trouble maker.
In 1935 President Roosevelt’s New Deal was a sign of good times ahead. And if there were going to be some good times then there best be a swanky new look to have them in. New suit! New suit! The demand was high. Thus the “London cut” was born and now men had the ultimate in pleasure of wearing a suit (with tapered sleeves, high pockets, wide pointed lapels and shoulder pads), pants, shirt, tie and hat. All in gray. I’m assuming.
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Men’s shoes were as sober in color as the times. Blacks, browns and tans. (what, no gray?) Two toned brogues were all the rage, quite possibly because they were a favorite style of the Fred Astaire.
Right: Fred Astaire's Shoes>
Boots were no where to be found unless you were a laborer and the loafer made it’s first appearance and has been with us ever since.
For more images of 1930's shoes, please visit my Styles Gallery.
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~KBCreations. Copyright 2006