The stock market crash of 1929 and the ensuing recession created a need for less expensive garments without elaborate ornamentation. Designers of the period therefore relied on seam lines and darts as major forms of embellishment. The decade saw a continuation of the linear shape of the 1920s, but with a leaner, longer, more feminine silhouette. The waistline returned to its natural position and hemlines dropped.
The overwhelming popularity of the movies in the 1930s helped perpetuate the ideals of “Hollywood glamour.” Women began looking to screen stars for inspiration in fashion, hairstyles, makeup, and even demeanor. The movies, and the glamorous lifestyle they portrayed, were a way for the public to escape the harsh realities of the Depression. Designers such as Elsa Schiaparelli incorporated concepts of Surrealist Art into fashion designs, offering fantastical creations that also provided a flight from reality.
Evening fabrics tended to be pale or white solids of silk or satin, and the backless evening gown was introduced at this time. French designer Madeleine Vionnet created the “Bias Cut”, which produced a “liquid” clinging effect on the body.
The 1930s also saw the beginning of the birth of American sportswear. The Depression necessitated clothing that was cheaper and diversified, thus creating the need for ready-to-wear. Two-piece bathing suits for women also debuted at this time. Hats of all varieties were widely worn, and a right-angle tilt was the vogue. Shoes featured low heels and rounded toes. Costume jewelry and fur added the final touch of fashionable glamor.