I love Janet Fox's books, so I am so excited to be hosting a guest post from her today for the SIRENS IN THE TIME OF GATSBY blog tour, hosted by Mod Podge Blog Tours. In addition to Janet's guest post about women's fashion in the 1920s (a great topic!), there is also an awesome contest, and be sure to watch the book trailer!
Kicking Up Their Heels: The Women’s Fashion Revolution of the 1920s
Flappers were defined in part by how they looked. When in SIRENS Jo meets her cousin Melody, she see the perfect flapper; and when Jo borrows her cousin’s clothes she worries she’s turning into a flapper. But, golly, it was a great look! And it sure beat wearing those horrific corsets.
But what happened in the early 1920s pushed the clothing evolution into revolution. And the greatest proponent and inventor of the new fashion was Coco Chanel.
Chanel was thin, athletic – she was a great horsewoman – and attractive, and she personally favored less restrictive clothing, adopting men’s clothing and the comfortable styles worn by sailors (like boatneck sweaters and espadrilles.) It was her personal taste that women found attractive, as Chanel used knits and flannels rather than silks and taffetas, and she dispensed with frills and ruffles in favor of simple lines that allowed freedom of movement. To make up for the lack of fabric adornment, Chanel introduced beadwork and patterned cloth. It was Chanel’s slim, straight silhouette that became the fashion almost overnight.
Young women in America particularly took to Chanel’s chic new look. Dresses were tubular, with no waistor a dropped waist, and those huge, overdone hats were reduced to the close-fitting cloche. Long hair went out of style – too fussy, too much work – to be replaced by the short, loosely styled bob. Hemlines in about 1919 were mid-calf, but by 1925 had climbed well above the knee. While frills were gone, they were replaced by the “Oriental” look that featured beading on the dresses, and jewelry of beads, bangles, and long strands of pearls.
Because these slender dress styles sporting bare arms and lots of leg look best on young figures, those who dressed in Chanel style were mostly young and thin. And the young women of the 1920s were already pushing against their elders’ formal restraints across society. When women entered the work force during The Great War, they didn’t want to return to passive domestic duties. They needed comfortable clothes, and they needed them ready to wear.
That was the other part of this revolution in fashion: the shift away from elaborate hand-sewn costumes made from delicate fabrics that required lots of care to practical fabrics sewn intopractical garments that could be purchased – by an ordinary working girl – off the rack. Technology combined with practicality: a factory could produce many more dresses using far less fabric with the new styles. And a girl could walk into a shop with her week’s wages and walk out with the latest flapper style, and have money left over for entertainment.
Which was a huge part of the 1920s culture. Dancing, drinking, and dating – every self-respecting flapper wanted to be out all night taking in the “scene” and being “seen.” More about that in an upcoming post.
Check out this YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=72oC9_PTiQo
Caught up in the swirl of her cousin’s bobbed-hair set—and the men that court them— Jo soon realizes that the talk of marriage never stops, and behind the seemingly boundless gains are illicit business endeavors, gangsters, and their molls. Jo would much rather spend time the handsome but quiet Charles, a waiter at the Algonquin Hotel, than drape herself over a bootlegger. But when she befriends a moll to one of the most powerful men in town, Jo begins to uncover secrets—secrets that threaten an empire and could secure Jo’s freedom from her family.
Can her newfound power buy her love? Or will it to ruin Jo, and everyone around her?
About Janet Fox:
Janet Fox is the author of award-winning books for children and young adults. FAITHFUL (Speak/Penguin Young Readers 2010), set in Yellowstone National Park in 1904, is a YALSA Best Fiction for YA nominee and an Amelia Bloomer List pick, 2011. FORGIVEN (Speak 2011), set in 1906 San Francisco during the great earthquake, is a Junior Library Guild selection 2011, and a 2012 WILLA Literary Awards Finalist. Her most recent novel, SIRENS (Speak 2012) is set in 1925 New York. Janet has numerous MG and YA projects underway. She is a former high school English teacher and received her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults in 2010 (Vermont College of Fine Arts). Janet lives in Bozeman, Montana.
You can learn more about Janet and her books at her website.
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