This was originally posted January 21, 2009.
In the 1920s, upper class society and their social calendar set the stage for what would be fashionable each season. In the spring and summertime, the wealthy had grand balls, the races, garden parties, and art exhibitions to attend. So the "fashion houses" launched their new lines of clothing for each season...and the rest of the world watched.
Clothing designers were almost exclusively housed in France and that is where America got their fashions as well. After the new line was launched, America reported on it, and women got busy getting in style.
This was no small task! For the wealthy, many changes of clothes were required for each day as not only the season determined what was appropriate to wear, but also the time of day. Even maids had "morning" uniforms and "afternoon" uniforms! I know how exhausting it can be to change clothes several times a day because I used to do that when my babies would spit up on me several times a day! :) OK--I'm no wealthy, upper class woman!
Later, during World War II, Paris was cut off and American and British designers became the trendsetters for a time. New York became the fashion center and while Paris did regain their influence later, it was never exclusive again.
But in the 1930s, American women transitioned from watching Paris for all their fashion clues, to watching the movies. Many designers followed along and offered designs based on movies rather than whatever it was Europe was doing.
In fact, so strong was this "Hollywood influence" that pants became acceptable for women to wear in part because of two actresses photographed wearing them! One was Marlene Dietrich and the other was Katherine Hepburn. (here is an interesting letter written at the time--go to the 3rd paragraph of her post) Later, jeans (called dungarees) became popular with young people after Marilyn Monroe was photographed wearing them.
How easily molded are we?
More to come!