The changes in fashion that occurred in the 1930s are essential to vintage inspired clothing today. We love feminine butterfly sleeves and sophisticated elegance, both gifts to women’s clothing from this decade! With the onset of the Great Depression, many people were forced to give up a lavish lifestyle, but an era of big bands and nightlife remained. Women’s fashion shifted to a wardrobe of femininity, and at the start of the 1930s, trends emphasized the natural waistline as way to close out the boyish look of 1920s fashion. Hollywood movie stars played an influential role in 1930s style as well, and what was worn on the screen became acceptable on the streets. The Ruchette today gains fashion inspiration in a similar way, and like the women in the 1930s, she can accentuate her shoulders or wear a low-back dress for equally stylish looks!
Unlike the boyish 1920s dresses that concealed curves, the 1930s dresses had shapely lines and aimed to celebrate the female figure. Dresses returned to define the waistline, and at the start of the decade, women wore dresses that emphasized the shoulders. This included butterfly sleeves, puffed sleeves, and angular shoulders which, in turn, would give the illusion of a smaller waist. Most daytime dresses at this time were designed at calf length, so for a classic 1930s style, opt for a midi length dress with soft, fluttery sleeves and a defined empire waistline.
Later in the decade, 1930s dresses focused on the eveningwear gown with a high or halter neckline and an emphasized open back. Metallic lamé, fabric interwoven with metallic threads, was introduced and played a part in establishing eveningwear as grandiose and elegant in contrast with sensible daywear. The bias cut also came into a vogue during this time as a way to drape and gather fabric diagonally to also emphasize the female figure. These flattering styles are still popular today, so if a draped halter gown or a fluttery sleeved dress hangs in your closet, your 1930s outfits await!
As with dresses of the era, femininity was key and fluttery and puffed sleeves were a detail of 1930s blouses. Form-fitting sweaters were also popular late in the decade, a trend that was especially widespread among young women, thanks to the gorgeous actress Lana Turner’s performance in They Won’t Forget. To get the look today, simply pair a fitted pullover sweater or a butterfly sleeve top with a natural-waisted skirt and a cute pair of heels. (Don’t worry – we’ll explore 1930s shoes soon!)
Boleros and clutch coats, outerwear that has to be held shut, also became a notable trend during this era. They provided an easy way to add shoulder attention to a dress and a little stylish warmth on a night out. And since they didn’t have buttons or zippers, they were easy to put on and take off going in and out of restaurants and parties! (Fun fact: During this era, zippers became a staple in finishing a garment – they cost less than buttons!) The next time you attend to a formal evening event, wear a bolero over your dress for instant 1930s fashion.
Just like today’s wardrobe staples, midi length skirts worn at the natural waistline were the most popular option for bottoms. 1930s skirts sometimes had a subtle high-low hemline to add motion and volume and were finished with pleats for similar reasons. Also, women often wore ensembles, or sets of matching tops and bottoms, during this decade for sophisticated clothing and a polished daytime look.
Many types of shoes were available during the 1930s, but classic pumps, sling-back heels, and peep toes were among the most popular 1930s shoes (the latter two were perfect for eveningwear). Did you know sandals used to be considered an eveningwear shoe? Sandals were introduced during this era as an outdoor shoe and were later jazzed up for evening events. Pair your favorite pair of fancy sandals or classic pumps with a midi length skirt for a 1930s outfit.
Towards the end of the decade, nylons became every woman’s wardrobe staple as they provided a modest way to wear shorter dresses and skirts. While we no longer wear nylons on a daily basis, tights play a large role in Ruche fashion, as they can be paired with any dress or skirt for a chic look, a touch of color, and a bit of extra warmth.
When searching for 1930s accessories, gloves are a must-have! Gloves were extremely popular during this decade and were worn with both day dresses and evening gowns. Daytime gloves were short, while eveningwear gloves were of the elbow-length variety that we now associate with Old-Hollywood starlets. Women also began matching their gloves, hats and purses. While gloves are now usually saved for snow days, you can still channel the decade by matching your accessories year round.
For a complete 1930s style, finish your outfits with glossy curls, defined red or wine-hued lips, and lots of mascara – a 1930s makeup look inspired by gorgeous actresses of the era on screen, such as the classically beautiful Bette Davis and Greta Garbo. Just like these polished women of the 1930s, Ruchettes aim to create a timelessly feminine wardrobe that lasts. Visit Ruche for the vintage inspired clothing and accessories you need to get the look!