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Here's What The Ideal Beauty Standards For Men And Women In The 1920s Looked Like

Updated September 27, 2019 83.2k views15 items

American fashion in the 1920s helped set men and women free. After decades of conforming to Victorian-era styles, women moved towards a more modern look. While in decades past they squeezed themselves into form-fitting corsets and other undergarments, fads and trends from the 1920s went the opposite direction. Female shoppers no longer accentuated their curves – they hid them. The hourglass figure was out; boyish slimness was in. And 1920s hair and makeup changed dramatically, too; short bobs and bold cosmetics became the must-have look of this new era.

Men's fashion was less fluid, but they too embraced 1920s trends and fads. They wore long overcoats and fur (just like women), and relied on custom slim-fitted suits. As for personal flair, that came in the form of hats and accessories. The ideal male physique of the time was slender – all the better for showing up on camera.

The ideal beauty standards for men and women continued to evolve and change throughout the 20th century. Nevertheless, the Jazz Age provides a particularly fascinating glimpse into a distinctive moment in American style.

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  • Women Preferred Much Shorter Hair

    Photo: Paramount Pictures / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    Women of the Victorian era wore their hair very long, and that trend more or less continued until the 1920s. That decade, however, ushered in a completely new look for ladies. Many opted for much shorter hair to signal their burgeoning independence, but not everyone was onboard with this dramatic change. Many hair salons refused to accommodate the new fad, so women turned to barbers to achieve the look.

    Women often decorated their newly cropped bobs and shingle cuts with jewelry and fancy headpieces. Flappers made finger and Marcel waves quite popular, too.

  • Men Wore Many Different Hats, Including Fedoras, Bowlers, Panamas, And Newsboy Caps

    Photo: Unknown / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    Hats were a must-have for men in the 1920s, and different styles were required depending on the season. In the summer, they favored straw boaters, panamas, longhorns and flat-styled caps made of linen. When the temperatures dropped, men opted for bowlers, derbies, and fedoras.

    The colors of the headwear changed, too: light colors for warm weather, dark colors for cooler seasons.

  • Women Started Showing Much More Skin In Their Bathing Suits

    You've probably seen pictures of vintage "bathing costumes" – they look more like heavy woolen dresses (which they were) than comfortable sportswear. By the 1920s, women started revealing a lot more when they went to the beach. They bared their arms and legs up to the mid-thigh.

    Not everything was on display, though. Women commonly wore stockings with their swimsuits.

  • The Cloche Was The Women's Hat Of The Decade

    Photo: Bain News Service / Wikimedia Commons / Library Of Congress

    When you think of the 1920s and Jazz Age fashion, one hat comes to mind: the cloche. These hats got their name from their shape; "cloche" is French for "bell." Only women who had a bobbed hairstyle could wear these tight-fitting hats, and their low placement on the forehead impaired vision a bit.

    Occasionally, wearers would add decorations such as pins and ribbons to these hats. Women wore them no matter what the season, though the material would change depending on the temperature.