Friday, 11 January 2013


Source: Lucite Box
On Facebook yesterday I asked our lovely followers to give me a year of their choosing on which I would do a blog post about the fashion of the year.  And the year that was chosen was 1936- I am so pleased that a year from one of my favourite decades was chosen, although I got slightly distracted during research and started looking up dresses on Etsy to match the glorious fashion of that year.

The Year
Fashion history is not a sphere unto itself but is influenced by what is going on around it both socially and politically, so it's interesting to know roughly what was going on at the time of the fashion you are looking at.  And 1936 was a year which was full in many ways- in the decade leading up to world war two there were inevitably constant political goings on, which many at the time were desperate to appease and did not want to look the possibility of war in the face, although by this time it was becoming apparent that problems were starting to appear in the stability of long term peace.  The 1930s were also a decade haunted by economic troubles which obviously would have an impact on fashion.

Copy of Wallis Simpson dress, source: Little augury
One of the most talked of stories of 1936 was King Edward VII and his accession to the British throne at the start of the year followed less than 12 months later with his abdication which has been attributed to his love of Wallis Simpson- her fashions were much admired and copied.  It was also the year of the last Olympic games before the war, marking the first live world-wide coverage of a sporting event  with the famous 100 meter win by African-American athlete Jesse Owens.

So with such a tumultuous era it makes you wonder what the fashion world will bring to the year.

Sophisticated New Woman
Far and away from the 1920s unfeminine looser fitting dresses which were "a denial of feminine curves" (Peacock), 1936 saw the continuation of the 1930s traditions of slim and slender body-lines, emphasising the waist and bust alike.  The hemlines had dropped significantly and the range of outfits increased dramatically- with outfits for almost any occasion you could imagine- from day wear to work wear to leisure wear and most luxurious evening wear.  It was fashion for the sophisticated and busy new woman.

Tailoring was starting to become much more popular in women's fashions again, with the sharper cut shoulders, fitted jackets and the rise of the suit.

Source: Vintage Fashion Publications
One of the key changes in this half of the 1930s was the introduction of a wide range of new fabrics- washable, easy care but luxury: silk, crepe-de-chine and satin; as well as the development of man-made fabrics such as rayon, viscose rayon and tricot. These fabrics enabled the well cut fashions to be available to a huge range of women.

As is obvious throughout the mid-century period accessories were everything- with handbags, gloves, shoes and hats matching.  In the modern day matching accessories can sometimes seem overwhelming but in years gone by this was seen as the norm.

The Future
From looking at the fashion of the 1930s you can see where they were going, by the end of the era they had even designed a more modest version of the New Look silhouettes of the 1950s before the war began when the era of fashion that almost never was began. 

Rest assured if I found anything so glorious as an original 1930s dress I would certainly share it here, even if I struggled to part with it for the shop!

Sources: Vintage Fashion Publications; Fashion Era;  Lucite Box; The Complete fashion Sourcebook, John Peacock

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