The silhouette changed from the slightly androgynous, flat, rectangular outline of the 20's, into a renewed emphasis on the feminine. Waistlines returned to their normal position, it was the start of the large-scale commercial production of bra's (the way we know it today), and the “erogenous zone” shifted from legs to the back. Skirts once again became longer, lengthened to below the knee, and the focus was now on the specific contours of the body. Rather than draping and disguising it in softness, clothing was now stark, restrained in the front, and bare in back.
Another thing that changed in the 30's, was that fashion now favored the taller woman with wide shoulders and narrow hips (e.g. The Cornet. A type exemplified by Greta Garbo), as opposed to the shorter women of the decade before. For trends, this meant particularly emphasized shoulders, paired with straight og tight skirts).
Towards the end of the 30's, and America's involvement in World War II came wartime requisitioning of fashion materials, such as silk, nylon, and clothing dye. Women's attire therefore trended toward practicality, with simple blouses and jackets becoming predominant. Women even received instructions on how to tailor the unused suits of their men away in combat, remaking them into everyday women's wear. In the early 20th century the aviatrix and other working women often wore pants, and actresses such as Marlene Dietrich and Katharine Hepburn were often photographed in pants in the 1930s.
Variegated colors were replaced by dark tones and monochrome accessories. And due to the impoverishment of the population it was appropriate to combine the one-piece suit with another, and widely used jewelry.
But for the evening wear, ladies fashion was dominated by glamour, shiny dresses, flowy silk, sparkling rhinestones, fur, boas, and feathers.
Hairstyles became more feminine. And though short hair remained common, many hairstyles were significantly lengthened (to shoulders) and carefully packed (often curl waves).
Bottom left: A real sheet from the 1930's with exact measurements for the ideal on-screen woman, drawn from 13 actresses of the day.
Top: Actress Sylvia Sidney. What the "ideal" face looked like in 1934, according to a news paper. Her oval cheeks was the contour considered ideal for the perfect feminine face.
In this era, the celebrity image was almost within reach of the average woman. While American women had an average BMI of 23.6, many celebs ranged from 18.5 (Barbara Stanwyck) to to 20.3 (Lena Horne).
The most obvious difference between now and then, is that, a woman with a "perfect body" in 1930 would barely get a second look from Hollywood producers or model casting agents today.
SOME FASHION ICONS OF THE 30s
Greta Garbo, Gilda Gray, Marlene Dietrich, Clara Bow, Lyubov Orlova, Barbara Stanwyck, Anita Page, Sylvia Sidney, Joan Crawford, Jean Arthur, Katharine Hepburn, and Lena Horne.
The next post is: BEAUTY IDEAL OVER THE DECADES part 11 : THE 20's