Style Notes: 1930s

"How can you tell something is from the 1930s? How do you know this is a dress from the 30s?" I get this question A LOT and most of the time I respond with "lots and lots of research" because it's true! I mean, 10 years ago I wouldn't have any idea if someone held up a dress to me and said "Hey girl, is this dress from the 1930s?"


The 1930s is one of my favorite decades for vintage fashion and it took a little while for me to really hit the nail on the head when deciphering the 1930s silhouette as it changed a bit depending on the year...but then again, so did every decade for vintage fashion! I just can't get over the long skirts with flared hemlines, the romantic blouses with puffy sleeves, and the bias cut on the fabrics. So flattering!


While I don't claim to be THE EXPERT on vintage fashion (Lord knows there are many many more vintage sellers and collectors out there that are walking encyclopedias for vintage!) I have learned a lot just through trial and error, asking the vintage experts, and just perusing through dozens of vintage catalogs, advertisements, and archived images.


Here are some great study notes for you if you're just learning about vintage clothing and the 1930s silhouette and styles from this era. Adored Vintage carries quite a few vintage 1930s dresses so be sure to take a look when you're all done getting edumacated! ;)



Learn about vintage clothing: Vintage 1930s Silhouette and Style Notes

A 1930s dress has a pretty specific look. Well, actually it depends on what YEAR it is in the 1930s, but for starters sake, let's just take a look at this beautiful example from New York Public Library Archives that dates to 1934.

1930s Women sure loved sleeves and lots of it! I mean, I can't complain! I love a good billowy leg-of-mutton sleeve or a good puffed Juliet sleeve. So romantic! It's actually quite interesting to me that the 1930s silhouette is sort of like the Gibson girl silhouette but way diluted. Them Gibson girls sure LOVED THEM SOME PUFFY SLEEVES!


Learn about vintage clothing: Vintage 1930s Silhouette and Style Notes

See what I mean? Even the Gibson skirts flared out on the hem. Anyhow, if you don't agree or see it, that's ok, let's move on!

Dresses and skirts from the 1930s had A LOT of PANELING going on. There was also a lot of attention paid to the neckline and to collars. Usually you'll find an ascot tie or ruffles or buttons detailing the neck or small flat head studs. I get way excited about these details as I'm a ruffles kind of gal. Here are just a few examples of collars and neckline details on some 1930s dress designs.


Learn about vintage clothing: Vintage 1930s Silhouette and Style Notes

So as we go into the later 1930s the hemlines get a somewhat drastic chop-chop! In the early 1930s most dresses and skirts were about ankle length or tea length then all of a sudden it's the mid 30s and ladies hemlines shot up about 6-8"! That's just my guess, but if you look at a bunch of patterns and catalogs, the hems just kept getting shorter to right below the knee (scandaloussss!) in the late 1930s.


Learn about vintage clothing: Vintage 1930s Silhouette and Style Notes

Well, vintage dolls, that's all I've got for you today! I hope I was able to teach you something new about vintage clothing from the 1930s! I am always learning more and more every day about vintage fashion and all the styles from each decade and I am happy to share my knowledge with you!

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