Moonshine Monday: Fashion

moonshinemonday Welcome to Moonshine Mondays! In the lead up to the release of my Jazz Age-set romance Such a Dance on October 27 (TOMORROW!!), I’m rolling out some history, photos, background info and other special features relating to the book.

It’s probably not a secret that I love fashion. Shortly after I moved to NYC, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute held an exhibit of Chanel fashion that I returned to twice because I loved it so much. Chanel has become synonymous with tweedy suits and Karl Lagerfeld, but Coco Chanel came into prominence in the flapper era, and for me, some of her most stunning work was put out in the 1920s.

House of Chanel (French, founded 1913) Evening dress, 1924–26 French, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Gift of Mrs. Edward G. Sparrow, 1969 (2009.300.1345) http://www.metmuseum.org/Collections/search-the-collections/156050

House of Chanel (French, founded 1913)
Evening dress, 1924–26
French,
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum

I’ve personally always liked the flapper style. It represented a new period of freedom for women. The invention of the bra meant women could take off their corsets and wear clothing that gave them more freedom of movement. I love Chanel in particular, but Paul Poiret was one of the first designers to play around with looser clothing and the boxier silhouette of the era, and designers like Jeanne Lanvin, Madeline Vionnet, and Callot Soeurs were designing sparkly, elegant dresses and gowns for the fashion-minded flapper. The other interesting thing about fashion of the era is that it began to be copied and mass produced, which made fashion available to middle class women for the first time. Many women shopped in department stores—the Herald Square flagship Macy’s had opened in 1902, for example.

Chanel Evening Gown, 1926, also from the Met collection.

Chanel Evening Gown, 1926, also from the Met collection.

This was a revolutionary time in fashion. Women cut their hair into bobs, skirts were shorter than they’d ever been, silhouettes were radically different. Fashion took a more conservative turn during the Great Depression, meaning flapper fashion was kind of caught in amber, rarely to be revisited. When you see someone dressed like they just walked off the set of a Great Gatsby adaptation, you know exactly where those clothes came from.

Men’s fashion of the 1920s also became a bit more casual, as clothing normally worn to play sports made its way into daily dress. Golf and tennis were particularly influential. Men of the era wore stylized trousers as well, including wide-legged baggy trousers, called Oxford bags, that were all the rage for part of the late 1920s. Fitted jackets and trousers were trendy, too. And, of course, no man of class ever left the house without a hat.

Casual men's fashion of the 1920s

Casual men’s fashion of the 1920s

Fashion plays a role in Such a Dance in that I think clothes have a lot to say about how a person carries himself. Lane is always well-appointed, in sharp suits and a fedora he pulls over his eyes when he needs discretion. Eddie wears modified trousers he can dance in, both on stage and in the club. Eddie’s dance partner Marian indulges in the excesses of fashion; I imagine her wearing Chanel gowns out when she needs to be seen.

I’ve got a ton of Jazz Age fashion compiled on my Jazz Age Pinterest board. Here are some more links if you want more:

More on men’s fashion of the 20s
18 fashion icons from the 20s

And Such a Dance hits shelves tomorrow!!! I can’t wait.