The 1930s were a decade of recovery and cautious optimism after the depravations of the Great War and the Great Depression. Conscious Minimalism was the buzzword back then, and the era’s fashion statement was likely underscored by a “Less is more!” attitude. 30s fashion reflected frugality and a minimalistic mindset with subtle hints of glamour and flair to celebrate renewal and reinvention.
1930s fashion was heavily influenced by the chic, polished and oh-so-stylish stars of the silver screen. Greta Garbo with her hair in a fashion-forward side part, Joan Crawford with puff-sleeved dresses and narrow fitted waistlines and Jean Harlow with her iconic bow-shaped mouth and sculpted brows were all trail-blazers on 30s fashion and style.
If you are looking to elevate your minimalist style, get inspired by 1930s fashion trends that took simple classics to a whole new level. Shoulder pads emphasized an hour-glass shape, whether in blazers or tailored dresses. Sophisticated dressing was all the rage in slender silhouettes cut close the body, with mid-calf hemlines and fitted waists.
Narrow pencil skirts in thick fabrications worn with tucked-in short sleeved shirts with big shoulder pads and finished with a string of faux pearls around the neck exuded understated daytime glamour.
30s Fashion for Nights Out
Once again, it was Hollywood that inspired fashion choices for nights out on the town. Jean Harlow’s silky, slinky evening dresses and halter tops set the stage for today’s slip dressing. Makeup echoed the minimalist trend with pencil-thin eye-brows, dark red lips and understated eyes and cheeks.
Hair was worn close to the head in short sleek waves, achieved with curling irons and other tools of the time.
Matching gloves, bags and shoes finished the look of polish and pizzazz. Suede was a popular fabrication for all three. Scarves knotted around the neck added a pop of colour and print to a sober head-to-toe and jewelry was kept minimal with slim wrist watches.
The 30s fashion plate loved her hats, worn close-fitting to compliment her hair style. Small brims that sat rakishly over one eye added a playful touch. Pillboxes, trimmed turbans and toques all had a role to play in day-to-night looks.
1930s fashion encompassed undergarments in soft synthetic silks, all cut in one piece with no seams to show through the fitted dresses and skirts. Corsets and push-up bras also helped provide the structure and support needed under those sleek dresses and blouses.
1930s Fashion Trailblazers
Chanel and Schiaparelli emerged on the fashion scene in the 1930s, creating iconic looks, fabrications, ensembles and embellishments that rock the runway till today. Chanel’s trend-setting tweed suits with lashings of pearls around the neck were as fashionable then as they are right now, never going out of style.
Schiaparelli embellished her designs with exotic bejewelled buttons as her style signature and sent brightly-coloured outfits down her fashion catwalks. These haute couture creations made their way to the masses in another new trend of 30s fashion: read-to-wear. Both affordable and accessible, iconic looks were now available to the average woman to add panache to her wardrobe for work and play.