It was through a combination of cultural influences that were both in vogue, such as New York music, with a strong social element, and a strong desire among the women to show off, so that others might admire and respect their looks. (See Chapter I.)
The flapper “look” of 1930 began to change, as other forms of fashions entered the scene, but had hardly reached the point where they were as popular as flappers were before 1930. The 1920s were a time of rapid change in dress, which affected women in all classes and racial groups, according to a report in 1920 from the Office of War Information. In the words of the author,
The dress of women and girls of one hundred and fifty years ago was not much altered from that of girls today. There was no change in how women dressed…. A modern dress of a high class of a dress and accessories that would be worn by a gentleman in good-size clothing, but which to a girl would seem quite out of the question, can easily be acquired by a young girl for the purpose of looking pretty and young women can have the most beautiful dresses and accessories.
As the 1930s approached, fashion designers created new styles of clothing that could enhance women’s looks but at the same time not make them look too fussy. “The new-fangled look,” wrote the reporter Elizabeth McCracken in 1926, “had nothing else on its clothes to show a woman but her face and the way she walked and the way she spoke” (p. 48). The fashions of the 1930s were a blend of the fashions of the 1920s with the dress styles of the 1920s that were popular during this time.
In 1937, the Journal of Modern Dress published a study of the dress styles of American women, showing the decline of the flapper look. The article was published during the Depression, but in the same spirit as the 1926 report, it revealed that the 1930s were a time when women were looking “for an exciting quality in their look, not for a fussy one.” Another reason for the decline of the flapper look was the introduction of “a certain sophistication in American life and dress” (p. 53). Many of them were getting into the latest style of dressing, and many of them wanted to keep the new fashions. In The New York Times in 1942, reporter Barbara G. O’Keeffe wrote that with the rise in social cost of having a
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