Due to the war, life was more expensive and less money could be spent on fashion. A new invention was introduced: the dress-coat, a garment that could be used either as a gown or as a coat depending on the occasion. In the post-war era corsets were out of fashion and women borrowed their clothes from the male wardrobe and chose to dress like boys. Women started taking up sports, and a new fashion trend consisting of sporting wear was adopted. Frocks were more masculine, skirts were shorter and gowns with long trains made way to above-the-knee pinafores.
Women changed traditional shawls for trendy coats that came in just for one season. Feathers were very typical of the period, especially to decorate hats, fans and ball gowns. More buttons were sewed onto men wear, and instead of three buttons vests had five or six. Spats were replaced with shoes, and colored ties with black ties. Shawls were renewed and women wore them as a symbol for wealth. These were long, plain or stripy, and decorated with pompons, feathers, fringes or laces. The trend in Italy was towards flashy colors such as lemon, sulphur, intense green, rust or coral. Shawls were used everywhere: in and outdoors, during the night or day, to play sports or to travel. They were wrapped around the neck to protect the wesarer against cold weather. There was a wide new range of fans: big, small, feathered, made of silk, plain, with embroidery, classical, baroque, antique and modern.
The trend was towards wearing full coats with long loose sleeves and big darts. Coats of the 1920s were mostly long and wrapped to just one side. They were fastened with either a huge button or a buckle. Furs were usually or fair colors that went from yellowish-brown to horse-chestnut. Since fur was very expensive, lapels were sometimes decorated with silk. Jackets were padded, and decorated with colored velvet and woolen embroideries. Collars and cuffs were usually made of stoat, beaver and mink fur.
Women started using pajamas similar to those of men. Silk was one of the most common fabric, and pink one of the most usual colors. Some were ended with golden strings, or with woolen embroidery of different colors. Common patterns were those containing Japanese or Chinese drawings. Stripes and checks were big, though more discrete under pleats. Crepes were much in vogue, together with silk and a new type of taffeta. Checked patterns were very common in silk and wool fabrics. Winter and smart clothes were made of velvet and velveteen.
A new type of suit was designed for travelers. This new suit was comfortable and simple, close-fitting and buttoned up at the waist with one big button. With the passing of years the influence of sports in fashion was even greater. The percentage of obese people decreased notably after 1920, and women adopted a new less conservative style that showed parts of the body that used to be covered with clothing. In 1925 dressmakers started making skirts that were shorter than ever before, since women were no longer ashamed of showing their hip. Women's fashions moved away from the brash style of the 20s towards a more feminine silhouette.
Between 1934 and 1935 there were no major changes in fashion trends. Concerning clothes, one of the few changes was that skirts varied in length, and instead of being short they started being almost ankle-length. During the 30s women started using ample skirts with belts that were usually embellished with metal or celluloid clasps. Snake, crocodile and alligator skin were used to make handbags and purses. The real change was made in relation to the industry of fabrics, which expanded greatly and new fibers started to be used.
In 1936 women wore very fit frocks that shaped their body. Between 1934 and 1936 there was a historical advance that greatly influenced fashion: the industrial expansion of cotton. Later an economic crisis led to the use of dark and discrete colors, and once more fashion was left aside and several design firms were forced to close. As the crisis became worse, several stores and workshops were closed. In 1939 World War II blocked progress in several respects, including fashion.
Living in luxury cost a lot of money, and wealthy people refused to spend money on expensive clothing. New American customers started to invest in clothing and consequently fashion-designing industries were able to reopen. Ornaments were no longer made of pure gold and silver, and real furs started to be mixed with fake ones. Once the war was over, prejudices against showing the body were dispelled and women started using less conservative pieces of clothing. The firm Heim brought out what would be later called Bikini, a very small swimming costume that consisted of a Lycra bra and a small short or panties made of the same material.
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