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Puttin' on the Ritz, 1030's Glamour

 The 1930s was an era of extravagance and glamour.  Society was emerging from the Great Depression.  One of the most important influences contributing to the elegant fashions of the 1930s was the American Cinema.  Hollywood movie stars such as Bette Davis, Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford, Vivian Leigh and Marlene Dietrich, all of them sultry and sexy, set the stage for escape from a world of loss of jobs, loss of income, loss of the American Dream and the entrance into a world of glamour and sophistication.  From 1926 to 1932 the styles of the roaring 20s continued to characterize fashion, but with the addition of some subtle features that became very noticeable during the remainder of the 30s.  These style changes were the bias-cut, the hemlines, and the use of synthetic fabrics.

 Evening gowns were no longer knee length and androgynous.  A more conservative population turned to floor length gowns that clung to the body, usually in silk velvet or silk satin.  The use of bias-cut fabrics encased women’s figures, creating a beautiful drape and exposing the feminine curves with plunging necklines and natural waistlines.  Many gowns highlighted a bare back almost bare to the waist or a bare shoulder.  Another popular feature was the use of “handkerchief hems.” These asymmetric hems were created from fabric panels of different lengths and were used by designers to transition from the short hems of the flappers to the longer more feminine look.  For everyday garments there was a widespread use of less expensive man-made materials, especially rayon.  The use of the zipper also became widespread as it was less expensive to use than the labor intensive button holes and hooks and eyes.  Fabric flowers or bows on one shoulder or in the center of the waistband or at the neckline rounded out the new fashions.

Some Views of the Exhibit