By Caitlin Rattray
1930s fashion is having a bit of a moment. Well, more than a moment really when you consider that it was the first series of HBO’s Boardwalk Empire back in 2010 which put it firmly back on the fashion radar. But the recently released W.E. (Madonna’s directorial debut no less) which tells the story of the love affair between Edward VIII and American socialite Wallis Simpson is in on the act too. AND if that weren’t enough, news that Baz Lurhmann is in the process of adapting F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Great Gatsby (OK, technically mid 1920s but close enough) seals the deal for fashion of the 30s.
The 1930s was all about big bands, swing music and the jitterbug. Ladies and gentlemen were out enjoying themselves in the evenings and getting dressed up for a night out was half the fun – evening gowns were long, bejewelled and quite often backless (rather racey for the decade when you think of it). Gentlemen wore dinner suits, studded evening shirts and finished their outfits with pocket squares and silk scarves. There were clear distinctions between day wear and evening wear (no such thing as a quick drink straight from lectures) and Hollywood was starting to influence what women wore (think more Marlene Dietrich than Lindsay Lohan). Essentially when in came to fashion in the 1930s, the devil was in the detail. Women would finish an outfit with a touch of head wear and a swatch of fur. Shoes were not simply matched to shoes but silk or lace gloves too. Nails were always painted, hair was perfectly sculpted and jewellery was carefully selected.
So, if you have a spare evening this month, take the time to seek out the truly elegant fashion of the 30s. Whether that involves a trip to the pictures to see W.E. or a jaunt down to Fopp to pick up a box set of Boardwalk, be sure to make an effort otherwise I can pretty much guarantee you’ll end up feeling under-dressed.