Tag Archives: 1920s

Style Crush: Miss Fisher

I’ve just started watching Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries again – I think this is the third time (at least) that I’ve watched it. If you haven’t seen it, I urge you to watch it – it’s on Netflix in the UK and probably other countries too. If you like a cosy crime show like Poirot then you’ll love Miss Fisher. And her clothes are amazing! There’s a great article on Vanity Fair that says the costume designer tries to be as authentic as possible by using fabrics that would have been around in the 20s and pattern cutting that was actually used at the time, such as using panels instead of darts.


As well as amazing clothes, Miss Fisher has an excellent line in hats.

This voile coat with, I think, embroidered panels is amazing! I kind of want to recreate it.


This dress was made for dancing in – which is lucky because that’s what she does in it!


Her nightwear is particularly elegant – I think I definitely need a silk robe in my life. My current dressing gown is the one I made as part of my Doc Brown costume – nowhere near as glamourous!



I remember reading an article a while ago where the costumer designer, Marion Boyce, lobbied for a tennis episode as tennis was a huge sport an an influence on fashion in the 20s and she finally got her way in (I think) series 3. Word of warning, though, this episode features a rather nasty spider!


I. Want. The. Parasol.


Yellow and white is a great combo – you probably know by now how much I love yellow and maybe for the Summer I’ll find some white things too and sort of copy this look.


This velvet coat is amazing!




I also really like the character of Dr Mac who shows another side to 20s fashion – the acceptance of queer identity and gender bending dressing. I’ve seen some documentaries on tv (though I can’t remember exactly which ones) which mention that the 20s were much more a time of ‘anything goes’ than any other decade in the first half of the 20th century. She also has excellent hats.


I’ll leave you with this picture of Jack in a wet bathing suit because of reasons.


Have you watched Miss Fisher yet? Are you tempted to, if only for the beautiful costumes?



Book: Decades of Beauty

A couple of weeks ago, The Boyfriend earned some real Brownie points by buying me this book from our local Oxfam. I saw it in the window on my way home on the Friday when they were already closed. He then went out on the Saturday morning to get bread and milk and came back with the book, before I had a chance to buy it myself! Aw!

I love this picture of the woman (in I think the 20s) running on the beach! Also fair warning, there are a lot of photos in this post!

The book takes you through each decade of the hundred years from 1890-1990, looking at fashion, beauty and hair trends as well as a brief outline of the historical happenings and social norms for each period.

Each decade gives you 3 style icons that typified the fashion of that era, or were perhaps a bit groundbreaking for their time. I love that Calamity Jane and Princess Alexandra are both there for the 1890s!

You also get hair and beauty trends for each decade – shame I’ve got such short hair, some of these look like fun! Especially the giant ‘do on the far left hand side!

Any clothing that requires first of all help to get into and second of all someone else’s foot in your back cannot be comfortable!

At least they weren’t likely to get sunburnt! I’m tempted to recreate one of these beach outfits…

I love this photo of women at work – in the US in 1908 – it looks like it’s some kind of textile work, though I can’t tell what they’re doing exactly – any ideas? The caption just says ‘women at work’. Helpful.

Here are the icons of the 1900s. The only one I’d heard of, shamefully, was Lillie Langtry – and that’s mostly because there’s a pub named after her in Norwich, where I went to university! Also one of my friends lived near Newmarket for a while and Lillie Langtry’s house was on the corner of the track leading to her house.

The below product looks like it will help you look healthy without needing make-up, presumably. But it contains arsenic, so I don’t think the ‘healthy’ glow would make you that healthy in the long run!

I refer to my above comment about corsets – no matter how much they might hope it, I’m sure it was no ‘a dream of comfort’! She’s so comfortable she’s taking a nap, after all!

And we think unrealistic body image is a new phemonenon……No-one could possibly have had a waist that thin and been still able to breathe, let alone admire oneself in the mirror.

Of course the 1910s was the era of the Suffragette and it’s good that this book covers the social context of each decade as well as the fashion and beauty trends.

This is the first decade where I recognise all 3 of the icons!

I love that in the earlier decades in the book there are fashion illustrations instead of photographs (obvs!). These ones are particularly great. There are also some designers who were particularly influential in each decade mentioned – I didn’t realise Lanvin was so early!

Also Elizabeth Arden started in the 1910s! No idea she – and the brand – were that old.

Oddly after I took all these photos of the book, I discovered a new podcast called You Must Remember This, all about the unknown and hidden stories from classic Hollywood. The first few episodes are random, but then she goes into themes – like dead blondes, blacklisted, stars at war – and one of the episodes is about this woman, Theda Bara. I haven’t had a chance to listen to it yet, but it was great timing because I thought she would be an interesting woman to know more about!

Black Ascot sounds super creepy, but I thought I would post this photo of the text that explains it – and how it influenced My Fair Lady!


I think 1920s fashion illustrations are definitely my favourites!

I love pretty much everything about this photo of Clara Bow – I especially want her shoes. And he hair actually – I’m thinking of growing mine out and this slightly frizzy ball might be achievable for me!

I absolutely love this! And it shows there must have been a bit of variety in the clothes people wore – there wasn’t just one shape or style that everyone wore, though there are, of course, similar elements.

Having said I loved the other photo of Clara Bow, I think that might have been in part because I can’t see her eyebrows. Check these out for a brow style! I’m not totally sold on them to be honest…

Another huge, famous make-up name which has been around much longer than I thought! Max Factor started in the 20s, who knew?

Having watched all of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries about 3 times, I knew from watching a clip talking with the costume designer that she was desperate to do a tennis episode because tennis – and the associated clothes – was hugely popular in the 20s, it was pleasing to see this photo in this book.

There’s not really much to say about these icons! Except I fancy wearing a tux one day. Maybe when I’ve sewn everything else I can think of, I’ll make myself a tux?!

I read a whole book about Jean Harlow a few years ago – she had a very short life and a fairly tragic end, but she did pack in quite a lot! She was the first platinum blonde bombshell.

I couldn’t not include a photo of my namesake! Shamefully I don’t know much about her except that she disappeared. Though recently it was in the news that they thought there was a photo of her and her navigator on an island in the Pacific. Curiouser and curiouser.

Of course in the 40s women went to war.

It’s funny to reconcile the above photo and the 3 women below – the reality of life for a lot of people during World War 2 and the continuing glamour of Hollywood.

I pretty much only know Veronica Lake from her hair, so it’s funny to see this photo in the book – maybe that really was what she was most famous for?

The advent of the bra much had been a huge relief for all concerned – though I’m sure I read somewhere that the bra Howard Hughes made for Jane Russell was incredibly uncomfortable, so maybe sticking to corsets wouldn’t have been so bad, at least temporarily!

I didn’t seem to take so many photos of the 40s. Weird. Well, onto the 50s…. I like the contrast in the 2 photos below – black and white vs colour, austerity vs plenty.

And we get 3 of the most iconic actresses of all time in one decade! I definitely have a soft spot for Marilyn Monroe – Some Like It Hot is one of my favourite films. It was also the biggest decade for the Hollywood musical, but that doesn’t really get a mention here.

Ah, Givenchy and Balenciaga. I’m going to see the Balenciaga exhibition at the V & A in September and I am really excited!

And onto my favourite decade 😀

I love how different some of the 60s icons are – Jackie Kennedy vs Twiggy vs The Supremes. All great, in their own different ways.

Edith Head is definitely someone I want to read more about – I read recently about the brown evening gown Bette Davis wears in All About Eve and how there was a mistake in the measurements so it ended up being off the shoulder when it wasn’t supposed to be. I bet there are loads of make it work moments like this throughout her career.

I think I might add all of these designers to my list of ones to cover in future posts.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but this has to be the most iconic haircut of the 60s. I might grow my hair into this finally, and take the plunge!

I kind of love/hate the 70s. Some of the style is great but some of it less so!

Possibly my favourite thing about this whole book is that Miss Piggy is one of the style icons of the 70s!

I might also cover all of these designers in future posts too.

It seems that the 70s was when jeans really took off, so I guess we do have one thing to be grateful to the decade for.

The photos for the later decades definitely got fewer….

Dynasty has to be the most quintessentially 80s programme.

The gown on the left, from the 80s I think must be Valentino because it looks quite like the gown Julia Roberts wore when she won her Oscar, which was a vintage 80s Valentino dress. Apparently this kick-started the trend to wear vintage dresses on the red carpet.

I feel like the 90s was kind of the start of fashion being comprised of multiple trends.

I think it’s fitting that the last photo I’m posting is of the Spice Girls, the most 90s of groups! Apparently Geri’s union jack dress was made by her sister out of a tea towel – if that’s true, it’s awesome that something made at the last minute became so iconic!

Do you have a favourite fashion history book?






Fashion History: The Early 1920s

So I recently discovered The House of Elliot and I can’t believe I’d never watched it before! Slightly in my defense is was originally on TV 1991-1994 but the channel London Live was advertising that they were about to start showing it. I couldn’t remember when it was on, though, and then discovered it’s all on youtube – score! It was created by Eileen Atkins and Jean Marsh, the same brains behind Upstairs Downstairs and is about 2 sisters who start a sewing business, taking commissions from the posh set in 1920s London, and they eventually start a Houte Couture fashion house – the eponymous House of Elliot.

There aren’t many photos on google from the show, other than the publicity stills which don’t really show off the clothes, which let’s face it, is at least 70% of why I like the show. I managed to grab some blurry screen shots to give you an idea of what Beatrice (in the first photo) and Evangeline (on the right in the second photo) Elliot wear.

House of Elliot 1

The silhouettes are mostly long skirts and long jackets/ coats/ cardigans.

House of Elliot 2

House of Elliot 3

Here they are sitting around sewing of an evening 🙂

House of Elliot 4

As well as sewing clothes for themselves, and others, from scratch, they also do some refashioning! Below Beatrice is wearing a dress shirt and waistcoat that used to belong to her father, which she has remade to be suitable for herself.

House of Elliot 5

There’s lots of excellent hats too!

House of Elliot 6

I like these complimentary blue outfits with the matching white tights and mary janes! And the shopping baskets!

House of Elliot 7

There’s, pleasingly, quite often a tape measure around their necks.

House of Elliot 8

Here the 2 people on the right, who are rather privileged and wealthy, have given Tilly, the girls’ helper, a sewing machine which their mother never uses. It’s the best present for her! It also made me miss my Singer from 1920 which I found in a charity shop in Norwich for £20 but sold a few years ago because I didn’t have the space to store it 😦

House of Elliot 9

This is one of my favourite outfits from the season so far (i’m on episode 8 of season 1). I love the colours on her, with her newly bobbed hair, and the kimono-style jacket looks so elegant!

House of Elliot 10

It’s easy to think of the 20s just as the roaring 20s and the era of the flapper – as I did before I watched The House of Elliot, which starts in 1920. You can see from the picture below, however,  how the silhouette changed over the decade:

1920s silhouettes(image source)

After World War 1 and with women’s (limited) suffrage being granted in 1918, women were entering the workforce in record numbers and the fashions equally evolved – women no longer wore corsets for the first time. And their clothes became more practical and more masculine in style. There were also technological advances like the invention of Rayon (in 1910), which became a substitute for silk stockings for the less rich. Also metal hooks and eyes and the invention of the zip (the modern zip as we know it today was designed in 1913) made getting in and out of clothes a lot easier. Also mass manufacturing methods made it possible for women of all social levels to be able to emulate the styles of the richer members of society at a fraction of the cost.

1920 day wear 2(image source)

1920 day wear 1920 evening wear

(image source)

I love the cocoon-shaped coat in the first picture above, and I do like the general silhouette of the day wear (maybe slightly less so with the evening wear!) but unlike later decades of the 20th century, I don’t think you could get away with it without it looking like a costume. Maybe as long as you don’t have a bob and wear a cloche hat, you could get away with some of the individual garments? Like I think you could wear the below jumpers/ cardigans, maybe with trousers instead of a calf-length skirt and not look too much like you want to be in a period film! What do you think?

1920 hip length cardigans(image source)

Chanel 1
(image source)

I was about to finish the post, but then I remembered Coco Chanel! Although her classic suit is more associated with the 50s, she started designing during the First World War, using jersey to make more comfortable, more sporty clothes. “By 1920, Chanel had designed and presented a woman’s suit of clothes — composed either of two garments or of three garments — which allowed a woman to have a modern, feminine appearance, whilst being comfortable and practical to maintain; advocated as the “new uniform for afternoon and evening”, it became known as the Chanel Suit.”1

Chanel 2
(image source)

I’ll do another post on the full-on roaring twenties, maybe when I get through more series of The House of Elliot! Do you like 20s fashions?