Fashion in the 1930s was characterised by:

Women's Clothing

  • Glamour
  • Long slinky backless gowns for evening
  • Gowns were cut on the bias to cling to the body shape
  • Skirts were straight and longer than in the late 20s
  • Streamlined "Art Deco" silhouettes
  • Waistlines back to "normal" level
  • White skirts "a summer necessity"
  • Separates becoming more important
  • For evening, gentle curves emphasised with ruffles and ruching
  • Halter tops and shorts
  • Popular dress styles - sailor, tennis stripes, large bows, cap sleeves, cummerbund sash, deep revers.


"Silhouette: Slim, narrow, longer skirts, natural waist; from 1933: wider shoulders.
Bodice: Semi-fitted, bias cut, narrow belts.
Neckline: Low, cut away from the neck, ties and scarves popular.
Sleeves: Inset, long fitted, bias cut, inset panels, flared cuffs.
Skirt: Slim, clinging, intricate seaming, bias cut, from 1934: mid-calf length.
Fabrics: Silk and wool crepe, silk georgette, satin, panne vlevet, organdie.
Trimmings: Top-stitching, contrast fabric insertions, large buttons.
Colour: Two-tone: black and white, brown and cream, navy and white.
Accessories: Small hats worn at an angle, gauntlet gloves, clutch bags, silk stockings, shoes with high heels.


Ruffle Neck Jumper - 1936

1935 -1939

Silhouette: Slender, small hips, natural waist, padded shoulders.
Bodice: Semi-fitted, natural waist, padded shoulders.
Neckline: High round, small neat collars, shoulderwide collars
Sleeves: Long inset, short puff.
Skirt: Flared, straight with inverted pleat,; from 1939 - knee length.
Fabric: Silk georgette, lightweight linen and wool, wool tweed.
Trimmings: Saddle stitching, contrast colour collars and cuffs, lace collars and cuffs.
Colour: Dark cream, mustard, grey, navy blue, brown, black.
Accessories: Small, mannish hats, gauntlet gloves, clutch bags, shoulder bags, twotone shoes with high, thick heels."                                                                              (Peacock)

Underwear and Sleepwear

    Dainty Bedjacket
  • Underwear was often knitted
  • Briefer
  • Slips
  • Full or half corset
  • Bedjackets and dressing jackets were popular
  • Uplifting brassieres


  • Backless
  • Above thigh


  • Gloves
  • Hat brims now folded back to display the forehead
  • Hats had brims
  • "Streamlined" Art Deco jewellery
  • Furs
  • T - strap shoes
  • By 1933, hats becoming small
  • Costume jewellery popular, African and cubist designs, gold and silver plate, enamel and tortoiseshell
  • Fezzes, berets, tiny and enormous hats
  • Profile hat
  • Three quarter length gloves
One Piece Underwear - 1930s

Hair & Make-Up

  • Hair was still cut short, and often blonde
  • Eyebrows were very fine, or shaved off and pencilled in
  • Lips were dark


  • The English "drape suit" popular - broad but unpadded shoulders, moderate lapels, tapered sleeves and nipped waist
  • High-waisted, double pleated trousers supported by suspenders
  • Neatly cut waistcoat
  • Sports jackets increasingly popular
  • Sports shirts, such as striped jersey sailor shirts, polo shirts, white knittted tennis shirts, "dishrag shirt" which laced at the neck.(1933)
  • Summer weight suits in light fabrics
  • Shirley Temple frock - 1936
  • Accessories
  • Two tone shoes


  • Shirley Temple style dress
  • Knitted suits and dresses
  • Knitted underwear
  • 1936
  • Shirley Temple curls
  • Knitted coats


  • Traditional layettes
  • Raglan sleeves by 1936.
  • Collars on matinee jackets.
Reference: Michael and Ariane Batterberry: Fashion: The Mirror of History, 1982, London, Columbus Books
"20th Century Fashion: The Complete Sourcebook,"by John Peacock.
1993; London; Thames and Hudson, p.228

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