One of the main characteristics of 30’s fashion was the emphasis on the shoulder. Again this was to accentuate the slim slender look. Puffed sleeves diminished the size of the hips and made he head look more in proportion. A cape was often used for the same effect by widening the shoulders and thus giving the impression of narrower hips.
Puffed sleeves came in a number of versions such as bell-shaped, Bishop, leg-of-mutton and square padded sleeves. Magazines of the period gave away transfers that could be embroidered on to the sweater or customising was easily done by embroidering initials on the collar or pocket.
The healthy lifestyle now encompassed swimming and the pasty skin was being replaced by a tan. The coverall one piece bathing costume was replaced by the more daring swim suit [see our earlier post here] and men were now allowed to bathe solely in trunks.
But the careless attitude was changing as the second half of the decade began. Political change in parts of Europe brought the threat of war and fashion reacted to the new pessimistic outlook. Some tried to combat the deepening mood by being extravagant in appearance but others reflected the sombre feelings in their dress sense. Shoulders became squarer, hemlines rose and waistlines lowered. A tailored look became fashionable in what was later to be described as ‘power dressing’. The sweater was now worn long and belted over a pleated pencil skirt. Again knitting and crochet rose in popularity. Thick cables and ribbing appeared and the advent of double knit wools made it possible to turn out a chunky sweater in quick time. But all was not left to chunky designs. The feminine look continued with sweaters adorned with pompoms, bows and intricately designed collars and cuffs. By 1938 with the prospect of war ever closer the suit design largely took over. A full knitted dress or two piece suit became common and the slender figure was magnified with a belt and pleats at the waist. Below the hips the skirt was often flared.
The knitting and crochet craze for flair and fashion died as necessity for comforts for the troops took over.