Fashion is ever changing and every season there seems to be something "new" that is in style, and something that goes "out" of style. Many of our trends today are merely a renewed version of something from our past. According to the 1927 Hemline Index, the length of our ancestors skirt and dress was an indicator of the countries wealth and wellbeing at the time. Let's take a look at how the hemlines have changed in America from the 20th to 21st century.
Pre- 1920s- For thousands of years , women's skirts and dresses were only one length; long and down to the floor. With the onset of the First World War the Victorian era began to come to a close as women began to gain more importance in society.
The Roaring 20s- Women receiving the right to vote in 1920 marked a transformation in the independence of women and with that came the rise of the hemline. The iconic "flapper dress" became the popular style with dropped waists, Mary-Jane shoes, long rope pearl necklaces, and finger wave short hair. The hemlines of the flapper dress is easily overlooked, but their above-the-knee length was considered shocking for the time. Combined with the disposing of the corset in favor of loose waistbands these looks were dow right daring to say the least.
The Depression of the 30s- Following the crash on Wall Street in 1929, the Great Depression brought hemlines crashing back down to the floor. The lack of money lead to a lack of trust and merriment within the people which caused the 1920s risk taking to come to a halt. People went back to their roots in a sense of modesty- both economically and in fashion.
The Post War 40s- The post war days originally took a turn for the nostalgic, with Victorian-style ball gowns and corsets once again with the trend of the "New Look". People quickly got tired of carrying around all of that fabric and Christian Dior's H-line featuring pencil skirts took over. The cautious mood post war kept skirts at a mid-length but morale was rising with new styles and dances to match the new looks. ( To learn more about the history of the pencil skirt click here )
The teenage-filled 50s- The 1950s brought the invention of the teenager and with that came more independence and freedom for young adults. Teenagers began to take more control of their lives and no longer wanted to look like miniature versions of their parents. They expressed their newfound individuality though their own style of clothes and hairstyles.
Swinging 60s- On the heels of the 50s, the 60s saw a rising level of fiscal prosperity and- with the invention of the teenager- the miniskirt was born! It was the embodiment of a world that wanted to push the boundaries and be daring.
Disco 70s- Social and economic discontent spiked in the 70s with the onset of the Vietnam War. The stock market started to dip, and so did hemlines. Floor-length maxi skirts came back in style for the first time since the Depression at this time.
Rocking 80s & Gen X 90s- The rising battle against sexism- with the 'Girl Power' motto of the Spice Girls- lead to a breakaway from fashion dictation. Everything became all about personal choice including the length of the hemlines. Power prosperity generally meant that hemlines were short paired with heels and choker necklaces that showed off authority.
Millennial Days- With the rise of female morale and empowerment, the hemlines of today mirror the empowerment and today you can find all hemlines from maxi, midi, to mini on the cover of the magazines today!
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