The Roaring Twenties: A Revolution in Fashion

BY: Sharon Fitness for GOOD.

In Hope Valley, the Canadian small-town setting of period drama WHEN CALLS THE HEART, it is now the 1920s and in episode 1 of the new season, we can already see advances in fashion not seen before on the show and a departure from the styles we’re used to as worn by the ladies in the picture above. Most notably, the transformation of Elizabeth, played by Erin Krakow. We thought we’d take a look back at the fashions and styles of the 1920s and what made this era, such a seminal period of fashion revolution.

The 1920s, often referred to as the Roaring Twenties, marked a transformative period in history characterised by economic prosperity, social change, and cultural dynamism. Nowhere was this sense of innovation and liberation more evident than in the realm of fashion. The 1920s witnessed a seismic shift in clothing styles, breaking away from the restrictive norms of the past and embracing a newfound sense of freedom, glamour, and modernity.

Actress Mary Crane Hone, 1923 [public domain]

Breaking Free from Tradition

The end of World War I brought about a sense of liberation and optimism that permeated every aspect of society, including fashion. Women, in particular, experienced newfound freedoms as they entered the workforce, gained the right to vote, and embraced a more independent lifestyle. This shift in societal attitudes towards gender roles was reflected in the dramatic changes in women’s fashion during the 1920s.

Women Golfers [public domain]

The Rise of the Flapper

The iconic figure of the flapper became synonymous with the fashion of the 1920s. Flappers were young, unconventional women who rebelled against the traditional norms of femininity and embraced a more liberated lifestyle. Their fashion choices were bold, daring, and avant-garde, reflecting their newfound sense of freedom and self-expression.

Gone were the restrictive corsets and voluminous skirts of the Victorian era. In their place emerged sleek, streamlined silhouettes that celebrated the natural contours of the female body. Dresses became shorter, hemlines rose above the knee, and waistlines dropped to create a more boyish, androgynous look. This shift towards a more relaxed and casual style of dressing allowed women to move and dance with ease, symbolizing their newfound sense of independence and empowerment.

Postcard 1920s [public domain]

Fabrics, Colors, and Embellishments

The fabrics and colors of 1920s fashion were as bold and vibrant as the spirit of the era itself. Luxurious materials such as silk, satin, and velvet were favored for evening wear, while lightweight fabrics like chiffon and crepe de chine were popular for daytime dresses. Art Deco-inspired prints and geometric patterns added a touch of modernity and sophistication to clothing designs, reflecting the influence of the burgeoning Art Deco movement on fashion and design.

Embellishments such as beading, fringe, and sequins were also widely used to add texture and movement to garments, particularly in evening wear. The shimmering, opulent details of these embellishments captured the glitz and glamour of the Jazz Age, making them a staple of 1920s fashion.

1921 Vionnet “Petits Chevaux” dress and 1923 evening coat by Lenief. (Musée des arts décoratifs, Paris)

Accessories and Hair

No 1920s ensemble was complete without the right accessories. Women adorned themselves with long strands of pearls, sparkling brooches, and beaded headbands adorned with feathers or jewels. Cloche hats, with their close-fitting, bell-shaped crowns, became the signature accessory of the decade, framing the face and complementing the sleek, bobbed hairstyles that were all the rage.

Speaking of hairstyles, the 1920s saw a revolution in hair fashion as well. Women traded in their long, elaborate locks for short, boyish bobs that reflected the newfound sense of freedom and modernity. The bob became a symbol of women’s liberation and independence, signaling a departure from the traditional ideals of femininity and beauty.

A sleek bob and a cloche hat, signatures of the times. [public domain]

Legacy of the 1920s

The fashion of the 1920s remains an enduring source of inspiration and influence in the world of style and design. Its revolutionary spirit, characterized by innovation, freedom, and self-expression, continues to resonate with designers, artists, and fashion enthusiasts around the globe. From the sleek silhouettes and bold colors to the iconic accessories and hairstyles, the fashion of the Roaring Twenties remains a testament to the transformative power of style to reflect and shape the cultural zeitgeist of its time.

I wonder what we’ll see on the streets of Hope Valley in the episodes, seasons and ‘years’ to come?

Watch When Calls the Heart season 11 on Friday nights at 7:30pm AEST on GOOD. or stream from the free GOOD app. Watch this episode now. CLICK HERE.

About the Author: Sharon Fitness is a staff writer for GOOD. She’s a movie buff, TV fan, foodie and dog lover.

Feature Images: Wikimedia.org and When Calls the Heart promotional content from GOOD.