What did Ladies Wear in the 1920s? – Flapper Dress Patterns For Sewing

Dressed in flowing robes in the style of the time, they made a statement in the workplace by wearing a skirt that seemed to disappear at the waist.

It’s not clear whether women of the time thought they were fashionably dressed, or simply went out without any clothing at all.

Image copyright Reuters Image caption Women wore skirts from the 1920s to the 1950s – though not all wore them to the office

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption These 1920s women are dressed in evening outfits

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The woman in the middle here may have thought she was fashionably dressed, but in fact she was merely wearing a dress of the time

But it is clear that many women were wearing the skirt for the right reasons – such as to get to work.

Women could wear a skirt all morning but if they had to change, many women often had to put the skirt underneath their clothes. So a woman wearing a skirt was clearly seen as an attention-seeking fashion faux pas.

Why did it last?

The most fashionable skirt would be a little less fitted than the one you might’ve seen on TV or in magazines.

In 1920s Hollywood, the women’s evening dress was often a waist-high and fitted gown, but there was no standard length skirt for night work. A few days in front of a camera, a skirt would typically be a few inches too short.

“Fashion in the age of the film actress meant wearing trousers but also a skirt to hide the skirt. This is evident when the lady in the middle is seen walking by in a knee-length dress and a skirt,” said historian Roberta Smith from the University of Leicester.

“There were exceptions to this rule, including the Duchess of Windsor who had a rather long skirt with a tight hem.”

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption This 1920s film clip shows actress Frances Perkins in a skirt of her own design

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The duchess wore a skirt of hers

Women of the 1920s could also afford to buy their own suits but the style of the day meant not every man could afford a pair that fit right.

For the very wealthy few it was possible to rent a tailor or shop for suits at a very reasonable cost.

The fashion for the first time in the 1920s was to choose a different colour of skirt when working in public service, such as in the civil service.

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