1929 - US Stock market
1932 - F. D. Roosevelt elected
1933 - Hitler comes to power in Germany
1938 - Nylon marketed by DuPont
1939 - WWII begins
1941 - US enters WWII - Pearl Harbor bombed by Japan
1943 - L-85 Restrictions
1945 - WWII ends
1947 - Christian Dior introduces the New Look
- Nylon available to public
1949 - Peoples Republic of China established
1950 - Korean War begins
1951 - First color television
1953 - Korean War ends
- Polyester marketed
1954 - Chanel reenters couture
1955 - Civil Rights Movement begins
1957 - Russians launch Sputnik
1959 - Castro comes to power in Cuba
- Hawaii becomes 50th state
1931 The silhouette changes drastically in 1930 and skirt hemlines drop. The bustline, waist, and hip are marked, but not accentuated, as opposed to the 1920's straight, boyish silhouette where bust, waist and hip were ignored. Silhouettes are softer, often with flared skirts. The bias cut is big; Madeleine Vionnet is responsible for this trend. Hair is longer than in the 20s and waved (Gold, 1991).
1934 Oriental phase - elements from various far-Eastern influences are often combined including Japanese, Korean, Chinese imperial and Chinese peasant. The mandarin collar is utilized for its long-neck look. The fez is used in the early 30s to exaggerate height (Baines, 1981).
1938 After the early 30s, hemlines rise steadily. The shoulders become broader with puffed sleeves a common expression of shoulder width. (compare this with the silhouette of 1900). The waistline is more definitely marked now. Women still wear corsets (now called girdles) (Gold, 1991).
1943 Issued by the
War Production Board, regulations on use of
fabric for clothing, the Limiting Order L-85 restrictions,
were announced. The main purpose of these regulations was to freeze
the silhouette, since any significant change in fashion would have necessitated
changes in manufacturing equipment, techniques and labor. Wool, silk,
rubber, leather, nylon were all needed for the war effort.
Men's clothing was restricted to single breasted, two-piece suits (no vests). Pants were without cuffs and pleats. Only one pair of pants was sold with a suit instead of two as previously was the norm.
Women's clothing was also regulated. IF made of wool, or any other fiber necessary for the war effort, these limitations were in place: Skirts were limited to 72 inches in circumference. Hem depths were limited to 2 inches. Jackets were to be no longer than 25 inches. On blouses, there could be no turned back cuffs, double yokes, sashes, scarves, or hoods.
The restrictions appplied to everything but wedding gowns, maternity apparel, infants and children's clothing up to 4 years, religious vestments and burial shrouds (Milbank, 1989).
1944 The shoulder line is now wide and padded. Military influences are seen. Bust and waist are marked, hips are slim. Skirts are slim to moderately full because of the L-85 wartime restrictions on use of fabric. The silhouette is balanced with a big-brimmed cartwheel hat. Shoes have rounded toes (Gold, 1991).
1947 Christian Dior introduces his "New Look." Shoulder pads and the military influences of the wartime years disappear. The silhouette is almost Victorian, with uplifted bustline. the first pinched waist since the early 1900s and a rounded hipline. Women wear uplifted bras, waist cinchers and full stiff petticoats. Hemlines are eight to ten inches off the ground. Shoes change, too with pointed toes and narrow heels. Hair is worn short, curly and close to the head. Almost immediately, as in 1930, skirt hemlines begin to rise. but the essentials of the New Look continue through the 5Os (Gold, 1991).
1950-60 New silhouettes appeared rapidly in the decade from 1950-60. The biggest influence in this decade was Cristobal Balenciaga who, after the war was acknowledged as the greatest designer of all. About 1954 he broke away from extremely fitted lines to a new "semi fit," close, to the body in front, but easy and straight in back, collars away from the neck, soft round shoulders and shorter sleeves (Gold, 1991). Women's millinery (hat) designers influenced by far-eastern sources. The coolie hat and the parasol hat balanced the New Look wide, full skirts (Baines, 1981).
Popular trends move away from the New Look. A Chanel suit reflects
this change in silhouette. The shoulder line is becomes more natural
and has a high armhole. The new silhouette features a semi-fitted
jacket and a skirt reaching to just below the knee. Shoes still have
stiletto heels and pointed toes (Gold, 1991).
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Updated: October 24, 1999
Copyright Belinda T. Orzada, University of Delaware, 1998. All rights reserved.