Jazz age style for women

Jazz Age Style For women

Creating a Jazz age style for women loosely spans the years from the end of the second World War until the end of the 1940s and beginning of the 1950s. That is more than 45 years although there is a sweet spot that starts midway through the 20s and carries on until the end of the 40s. All the same the scope of fashion in that time is way beyond a blog post like this with entire books available dedicated to each decade.

Certainly the 1920s gave the world a new kind of woman who liked to party and had very little in common with their Edwardian and Victorian mothers. These were the children who had seen the horror that could be caused by an industrialised world war. Their response was to live for today. This attitude is epitomised by the 1920s flapper.

The Flapper style of the 1920s

Flappers adopted a boy-ish figure that was unencumbered by corsets. Clothing was loose and designed to drape over this shape with a straight fit with a dropped waistline that sometimes reached as far down as the hips or even lower. They again emphasised comfort and freedom of movement. Dresses reached just below the knee and showed off their ankles and calves as they danced. Women also started to adopt men’s looks, wearing ties around their blouses as their newly won rights to vote were celebrated. Necklines lowered but were still modest by modern standards. The key was that they provided movement and were comfortable, even sporty with tennis playing a big part on 1920s fashion inspiration for women.

In complete contrast other fashions of the 1920s some designers rejected the flapper style and instead created dresses with long full skirts which had multiple layers and echoed the geometric flaring shapes of the art deco movement.

As the 20s gave way to the 1930s the effects of the great Depression meant that people became more ingenius and creative to look good as less money was around. Home made fashion was a big industry with women creating their own glamourous outfits at home from patterns.

1930s Glamour

This emerged with fashion emphasising the waist with a gather. Further mephasis was given with puffed sleeves, caplets and over sized collars all drawing attention and making the waist look slimmer. Skirts were also a little wider but the A line gave the emphasis that was desired without wasting too much material. The goal was to provide a silhouette which worked by using as little material as possible. The trend for off the peg ready made garments gradually became available with mechanised manufacture and cheaper fabrics such as Rayon becoming available. It cultivated a thrifty but smart attitude with women doing the most their creativity would allow them without overspending. If you could make it stretch women did add a little extra length to their skirts so they reached mid thigh, although this changed as the decade went on, and times grew harder for longer.

Sailor pants were another option for women looking for the latest fashion item. They gave a large flair to the trouser bottom with buttons up either side and were worn with tops that were gathered at the waist and wide shoulders to again draw attention to this silhouette.

The War Years

With the war years of WW2 women entered the workplace doing men’s jobs. As such the clothes they wore became work focused. Functional clothing was required but fabric was limited. There was also a desire to continue to look good. Dresses and trousers emhpasised the hour glass figure and this was often given even greater emphasis with the addition of shoulder pads. Hemlines rose again so that less material was required with most settling just above or just below the knee. Necklines remained high but did not go so far as to impede movement. Trousers in particular were worn much more common with high waists buttoned and often belted to ensure a comfortable fit.

As the war years ended America saw and end to the fabric shortages and skirts became much fuller, leading to the classic 50s circular skirt look which was worn with multiple layers of petticoats.

Hats and Jazz Age style for women

Hats were worn by everyone. In the 1920s the Cloche hat was hugely popular and this lasted into the 1930s too. The classic hat of the period is the Fedora which has a wide brim and a teardrop crease in the top which narrows to a pinched top front. They started out as a female fashion item in the 19th century and were worn as symbol of rebellion against female oppression. By the 1920s and 1930s they were seen as the go-to head accessory for men. Movie stars such as Dietrich reclaimed the head gear style as well as adopting an androgynous look with men’s tweed suits. This brought her a lot of notoriety which secured her place as a fashion and cultural icon of the age. Fedora’s shouldn’t be confused with the later 1950s British Trilby which had a much narrower brim and often a straighter crease. Both had a pinched front that gave it a very pleasing line from the front.

Other hats such as the Panama, the flat cap, the beret and the Baker’s boy cap were all worn by women who wanted to make a statement. Any of these can be adopted into your look and particularly if you are going for a Victor/Victoria style.

Shoes in the 1920s were simple and effective with 2 inch heal pumps and the even flatter Mary Jane style all worn with a single or double strap. In the 1930s shoe heals got higher with Cuban heals and straps got wider with full coverage lace up shoes taking the place of the Mary James. Decorative brogued patterns appeared as well as using two different colours of leather to create intricate patterns in the design. BY the time the 1940s arrived and the war was over wedge heals started appear along with sling backs and peep toe pumps. Throughout all the decades the T Bar strap was very popular and continued into each decade. This feature probably more than any other gives the vintage effect to a modern made shoe.

In America there was also a craze amongst teenagers of the Saddle Shoe in the 1920s right through to the 1940s. These were originally introduced as a shoe for indoor sports and featured a reinforced instep and low heal. They were light and a good choice to jump around in. They therefore became a good choice for Lindy Hopping young people in the dance floors as the big bands played. They were worn by both men and women and provided a real statement on the dance floor.

Take a look at the YouTube references for inspiration and to help you decide what to look for


Jazz Age Style For women Resources

These brands all offer vintage reproduction and vintage inspired items to build up lots of different looks that are all authentic for a Jazz age style for women.

https://www.thehouseoffoxy.com/ House of Foxy excels at tops, skirts, suits and separates which can be interchanged for a multitude of looks. They arrange their collections into eras that span from the 1920s to the 1970s. This makes it easier to find the exact period look you are after, and also provides a useful resource to compare with other websites.

https://revivalvintage.co.uk/ Revival Vintage not only provide reproduction clothing for both women and men but they also sell original vintage clothing. This makes their site a good one to keep coming back to see what is new in. They carry a good range of affordable 1940s style dresses, and separates. Their range of colours and styles provides lots of choice with options for both formal and casual looks.

https://theseamstressofbloomsbury.co.uk/ The Seamstress of Bloomsbury specialises in 1940s and early 1950s glamour with Hollywood and Paris as their main influences. Their range is vast and encompasses suits, separates and dresses with lots to choose from. Their site also features a vintage fashion blog which is well worth following.

https://www.cathcartlondon.com/collections/womenswear-1 Whilst mainly a men’s reproduction vintage brand Cathcart Elliot do produce women’s clothing as well with their range of Spearpoint Collar shirts and back laced trousers. It is fair to say that some of their items are vintage inspired rather than actual vintage but there are definitely items in the range that can be used with other brands for a very authentic vintage look.

https://www.weekenddoll.co.uk/ Weekend Doll create a range of clothes from the 1940s, 1940s and 1950s and arrange their collections in the decades they are inspired by. This makes them really easy to browse through and find the right vintage look you are after. From tea dresses to tops, skirts, knitwear and trousers they have a very comprehensive range in a variety of colours. They also do some great accessories to complete the look.

https://www.missbamboo.co.uk/ Miss Bamboo creates ranges from the 30s 40s and 50s to showcase glamour. Their range features beautiful bright prints for dresses and beach pyjamas but also includes suits, skirts, wide legged trousers and tops. Absolutely everything looks as if it was designed to make you look good on the dance floor.

https://www.rocknromancevintage.com/collections/dresses-automatic Rock n Romance have a large range of vintage inspired dresses from a number of different manufacturers. Some are based on the CC41 patterns which make a great choice for a jazz age style for women and vintage outfit.

https://www.collectiflondon.com/en/View-All-Womens/cpl-33.aspx Collectif are a vintage inspired fashion brand and their range takes inspiration from a number of different decades from the 1930s right up to the 1960s. That can make it difficult to pick out an item that is period perfect but there are some gems to be found here.

https://www.vivienofholloway.com/ Vivien of Holloway specialise in a range of 1940s and 1950s dresses which are absolutely stunning. Their range of tops and trousers and skirts are also wonderful and vibrant. Some their styles are much more 50s than 40s but there is plenty there to choose from. They also sell fabrics for those who want to try their hand at making their own clothes.

https://www.mapledoram.com/product-category/woman-1940-ladies/ Mapledoram’s range of women’s vintage styles continues to grow as they take original 1940s CC41 patterns and make their own range from these. They offer blouses skirts and jackets which can all be bought as separates but will also do bespoke creations for their customers.

https://www.blackbird-rc.com/femaleclothing Blackbird Re-enactment clothing are based in Poland and make bespoke items for both men and women. They have created patterns from original photographs to create some really original items for women. As tailors they provide a custom service where every part of a garment can be made bespoke or from a series of patterns. All work is undertaken in Poland and the finished item is then shipped to the UK. As such the costs of production are cheaper but taxes from Europe do apply to items ordered.

https://www.whatkatiedid.com/collections/vintage-inspired-separates Katie Thomas of What Katie Did is one of the original retro fashion experts. Known for her vintage lingerie ranges and shape-wear she also produces a range of vintage inspired separates. Whilst her current range takes a lot of inspiration from the 50s there is also much for the 40s enthusiast to find here.

https://1940sstyleforyou.co.uk/ This site is a combination of original vintage items offered for sale and associated accessories, fabrics and patterns to use to make your own clothing. It is constantly changing so worth checking back quite regularly to see if there is a bargain worth taking.

https://zapaka.co.uk/ Zapaka produce a range of dresses that are inspired by decades from the 1920s to the 1960s. These span brightly coloured items, printed patterns and polka dots. Whilst not all items scream vintage style there is definitely enough here to take a look at.

https://www.towerballroomdance.co.uk/product-category/ladies-social-dance-shoes/ Dance shoes made by recognised brand leaders specifically for dancers. You will find that many have options for soles and can be custom ordered to provide the choice you want of leather, suede or composite rubber/plastic.

Late forties style shoes which feature sling backs, and peep toe wedge shoes.

A range of saddle shoes and other vintage styles developed specifically for dancers by Bleyer that all help build up a Jazz age style for women.

Predominantly a 1960s shoe brand for men and women but with some in their range that are perfect for the Jazz Age. The range includes vegan shoes.

It is inevitable that over time these resources will change. New ones will emerge and old ones will change. Some may vanish completely. If you find any that we should add or want us to make changes to this page to keep it up to date, please let us know.