20th Century Fashion Inspirations

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Bonjour! If you have been reading my blog for a while you might be aware of my total obsession with Edwardian fashion and silhouettes. I love it so much that many of the garments I have are very reminiscent or inspired by specific dresses I have found and added to my numerous Pinterest boards that are dedicated to the topic. I have to admit I am more drawn to the later Edwardian garments. The pigeon mono-bosom look is not one I aim to wear often. Whereas  the empire waist silhouettes that were worn later in the period are much more modern and captivating to me.



Over the last year, probably due to the lack of new fuel to stoke the fire, I have been looking at other fashion eras. The 1930’s really caught my eye. The bias cut dresses are very elegant. Also the backs of the dresses are what really caught my eye.


I have never really made a point of making the back of a dress special since I am always wearing a cardigan. In fact the only time I am not wearing a cardigan is to bed and when I am gardening in the hot summer sun. Other than that my arms and back are covered to keep me at a comfortable temperature. But when I was looking at these slinky 1930’s dresses I was thinking just because you can not see the back of a garment does not mean it shouldn’t and couldn’t be fun! Also some of the best parts of clothes are the hidden parts. This is what I did for my first 1930’s inspired garment that I made.


I really enjoyed making something that was not so specifically 1900’s inspired as I was getting to the point where I thought my wardrobe “uniform” got too specific. Everyday it was the same variation of the same thing. Shorts, one of my shirts, and a cropped cardigan. I was completely happy with this for almost two years. But people change and want different things. So that is when the other era inspirations came in. 1930’s has been my first venture into that. My next ones are a bit of the 1860’s, the 1970’s and 1950’s/60’s, which are all very different and I am excited for them.


The more I look at these various fashion eras the more I add to my Pinterest board and the longer my “To Sew” list gets. It used to be about eight things. Now there are over thirty things on that list. That list makes me both very excited but also slightly irksome as it feels like falling into the pit of fast fashion and too much consumerism. Which is an interesting thought since often when you sew your own clothes it almost seems like you are exempt from the fast fashion tag. But me wanting to make 30 new articles of clothing is probably more materialistic than I would like to admit. And would take longer than I think. I digress.


I think that 30s fashion was my first fashion era that diverged from the 1900s fashion interest because it was similar enough to Edwardian silhouettes to initially catch my eye. But then the wonderful lustrous silks caught my eye as well. Edwardian evening dresses are made from some of the finest materials but they are more about excess than displaying the distinct qualities of the fabrics. I was given some beautiful soft heavy silk last summer that would be perfect for something inspired by the 1930’s, however I am still too new to draping fabric to do it any justice so that fabric will be put on hold until I feel confident enough with my bias and draping skills. For now anything 1930’s that is made by me will be cut from my stand-by silk-cotton blend.


The 1970’s fashion inspirations I have been looking at lately are not as new to me. My Mum was a teenager/ young adult in that era so those silhouettes have a soft spot in her heart. She also went through a 70’s revival sewing phase when I was about twelve or thirteen. But my impressions of that eras style was filtered through my Mum, so it was a lot of bell sleeves, deep v necks, etc. I suppose overall it is much more angular and linear than my taste is and was and did not do anything for me. But again Pinterest and the many Biba books around the house brought different 70’s silhouettes to my attention (as well as perhaps the overall trend of 70’s fashion happening currently). I really enjoy the loose draped dresses dresses, the bell cuffed sleeves, short skirts, and safari jackets. Those are all appealing to me, perhaps because these shapes and forms have nods to the past that I like (besides the short skirts… I think that one is mainly because of my love of shorts).


Then as I mentioned above 1960’s is another era I have been looking to. But I should specify that it is the early 60’s that I like. I am not shaped like a twig and know that an straightener A line dress would do me no favours, so it is the early 60’s belted looks with high square necklines that I like. So think of many of Jackie O’s evening gowns during her time as First Lady. But 1960’s suits are also great in my opinion though I prefer subtler colours usually. In my mind I plan to make a 60’sesque wool suit sometime soon.


What fashion eras of the past do you look to for inspiration?

Until next time,








One thought on “20th Century Fashion Inspirations”

  1. Love the Edwardian style! Very nice post; I think it’s great you have thirty different garments you want to make! It’s a balance of both creative and practical. Thumbs up–hope you achieve your goal. One of my favorite movies to watch for a number of reasons–but a main one to gaze in admiration at the clothing used–is the Winslow Boy. Awesome pic. Those long linen dusters and gowns Rebecca Pidgeon wears, (and her hats), make me want to drop everything and start sewing!


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