It was the height of the Great Depression, and the beginning of the Hollywood Golden Age. The economic crisis and rampant unemployment created a sharp division of the rich and poor. As a result fashion changed again, becoming more traditional and conservative with a cool elegance. The Production Code enforced on Hollywood films in the 1930's put an end to the sexual content of the films of the 1920's. The change in content meant that roles for women became more realistic, resulting in the rise of “wholesome” stars such as Katherine Hepburn and Jean Arthur.
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.
Thanks to Hollywood, the ideal of the "blue-eyed blonde" female with pronounced cheekbones was born. Sunbathing became increasingly popular, and makeup was now a little softer than in the 20's. The drawn in eyebrows, plucked in an high arch, was still very on-trend in the 30's. But the overall look was no longer as vamp-like, and instead carefully painted, smeared, and thin lips were summarized in pencil.
Hairstyles became more feminine. And though short hair remained common, many hairstyles were significantly lengthened (to shoulders) and carefully packed (often curl waves).
Somewhere between the harsh waistlines and long hemlines of the 1900s, the youthful boyish figure and short skirts of the 20's, the 30's saw a return to a more traditional body image, with wholesome looking mature women.
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.
DID YOU MISS THE NINE OTHER POSTS IN THE BEAUTY IDEAL OVER THE DECADES SERIES? CLICK ON THE LINKS BELOW.
"The Beauty Ideal Over The Decades", is a big subject. I divided the different eras into a series, looking at the many different ideals that has been considered as beautiful and attractive in the past.
The next post is: BEAUTY IDEAL OVER THE DECADES part 11 : THE 20's
(Photos in this post are random pictures from Tumbler or Pinterest or borrowed from Google. Unknown source. Other sources are: http://www.thefashionspot.com/beauty/171133-beauty-ideals-throughout-the-ages/#/slide/1, http://aarticles.net/health-beauty/6923-kakim-byl-ideal-zhenskoj-krasoty-v-1930-40-e-gody.html, http://www.allwalks.org/2011/05/the-ever-changing-female-ideal-1900-1950-part-1/, http://www.stylecaster.com/timeline-sexy-defined-through-ages/, http://www.rehabs.com/explore/womens-body-image-and-bmi/, http://barneygrant.tripod.com/p-erceptions.htm)
16/4/2016 05:38:47 am
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12/10/2016 12:28:40 pm
Thank you so much for that lovely feedback, Rina :-)
22/10/2018 06:36:13 pm
Hi! This is a super interesting series and I was wondering if there was a particular book you got your information from?
26/1/2019 03:40:36 am
Hi, Claudia! Thank you so much for your kind words. I got all of my info from either the sources listed at the bottom this post, so the internett. But also from costume and fashion history from when I studies fashion in Milan. I don’t remember the names of those books now, as it all came from my memory and notes from what they teached said in lectures. However, since I crossed checked all my notes and memory with the internet, I would say it’s sources is the internet.
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