How Fashion Has Changed Over Time: Effects on American Society

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 1918 |

Pages: 4|

10 min read

Published: Aug 4, 2023

Words: 1918|Pages: 4|10 min read

Published: Aug 4, 2023

Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Fashion in the Roaring 20s and How It Changed
  3. Reasons for the Changes in 1920s Fashion
  4. Impact of Fashion Changes on American Society
  5. Conclusion
  6. Works Cited


During the 1920s, the rise of prohibition and women's rights were uprising. Women wanted the right to vote rather than being treated like useless items. This decade was known as the roaring ’20s or jazz age, but is mostly known for its evolution of fashion during this time. Fashion in the 1920s evolved which had a negative impact on American society because women were not accepted due to their fashion changes. Clothing revolutionized greatly during this era; many people were not used to the changes that were occurring. Many events occurred like the 19th amendment, prohibition, and women's rights. When people think about the 1920s, people think about flappers, a style of young party women. Flappers in the 1920s were known for women's spirit being energetic, having freedom, and having a lifestyle that many people viewed as outrageous and dangerous. Fashion during this time was different. It was nothing like traditional styles; fashion had evolved. Some of the changes included the discontinuation of puffy skirts and corsets for women that created a slim figure with curves. Waistlines at the time were dropped, unlike the styles from the past. During this era fashion changes focused more on women expressing their freedom, but styles for men were also expressed. Men had trousers change into two styles, they also had the introduction of hats. Throughout this paper, I will explain the reason why fashion started to change and how fashion has changed over time. Lastly, I will also explain how it affected American society. The fashion did not only change how people dressed but it led to certain events that changed America. Even though many important events happened in the 1920s, the fashion of this decade was the start of modern women fashion.

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Fashion in the Roaring 20s and How It Changed

Fashion in the 1920s had lots of changes. There were no traditional styles; the style of clothing changed. There are many reasons why fashion started to evolve in the 1920s. There are many questions about fashion evolving into the style in the 1920s. A few reasons how the style of clothing in the 1920s changed was the result of several events that occurred during this time, like prohibition and the 19th Amendment. The 19th Amendment allowed women the right to vote, which led women to gain power. Also, menswear was a big inspiration for women's clothing as women gained more political and social power. This inspired women to incorporate loose fitted dresses to their wardrobe reflecting male clothes which were baggy and loose. Women during this time really wanted equal rights as men, which was another reason why dresses had less of a feminine figure. Curvy dresses were a big part of women’s fashion in the past, but since women wanted more equality, they made changes to their style giving it less of a feminine style to show equality. Since the 19th amendment passed, women were allowed to vote, but certain people would say that this was rebellious for women to do. This impacted women to start changing their style such as: lowering the waistband of dresses, having sleeveless dresses, and getting rid of the curve on the dress, like a flapper. One of the reasons why clothing started to change was because of women's independence and women being seen as being rebellious. For example women wearing loose dress and dropping waistlines was seen as an act of rebelling. A famous group of women during this time were flappers, young energetic women who were known to wear loose beaded dresses.

Reasons for the Changes in 1920s Fashion

During this time women fashion was very popular and had many changes that went along with women fashion at the time. Flappers, the style where women were seen wearing short dresses or shirts and short bobbed hairstyles were very popular. From there, hair started to get shorter throughout this time, but as time progressed, women started to grow out their hair again. During this period it was typical for women to have short hair. Similar to hair getting shorter, dresses were also decreasing in length. Flapper dresses were typically dresses that were embellished with sequins or beadwork, which made the typical style of a flapper. This style also consisted of sleeveless dresses or shorter shirts before, fashion for women included long skirts and curvy dresses, but as time progressed dresses started to evolve and lose the curves in dresses because women wanted to break the traditional style. In order to achieve the curveless look, women would use lingerie to replace tight-fitting corsets. The lingerie would simply zip up along the side to give off a tubular look. Women were not the same as before; they were gaining political and social power, and they had a great evolvement like their styles. This was not what people were used to. Normally people were used to seeing women in long skirts with tight corsets and high waistbands. Flappers weren't the only look women had; they also wore sports clothes. Before, it was typically not acceptable for women to wear sports clothing, but during this era, it was more acceptable for women to do so. Since tennis was a popular sport for women, they were allowed to wear tennis style clothing, which started to look more like male style clothes. This style consisted of knee-length shorts or a pleated skirt with sleeveless white tops. In addition, many new clothing items were introduced for women.Bras and swimsuits were a big part of women's fashion, because they were showing their freedom and independence by showing more skin. Bras at the time were very different than how bras are today. Usually, bras in the past were made with cotton cloth with metal bonding used for flattening the bust to give less of a feminine style. The introduction of bathing suits, received high criticism due to the amount of exposure of the skin and the form-fitting of the suit. Not only did the style of clothes change, but the colors were different. Designers were trying to add more neutral colors to woman fashion such as light beige colors, white, and grays. Silk fabric was often used for clothing. Fashion was evolving to shorter dresses and more skin showing due to the end of the dress reformation movement. The dress reformation was the desire to cover all limbs and torso adequately.

Impact of Fashion Changes on American Society

This era was most known for women’s fashion but men also had a sense of style as well. Their style were soft collars and a one or two-button suit jacket that were mostly worn with waistcoats, a fashion accessory for men. Their look of trousers changed into two styles: the Oxford bags and the Plus Fours. The oxford trousers were known for a wider bottom. As for the Plus Fours, the trousers were short-legged trousers that gathered around the knee and gave a baggy effect. Hats were well known for completing menswear. These were known as comfortable sportswear for golf, which men were known for playing. They also have a fashion icon which was a person that people would look up to for fashion inspiration. Males would look up to the Prince of Wales, Edward. He was known for his fashion sense and many men were inspired to dress like him. Males did not have as much impact as women did during this time, but they had to see all these changes happening around them. Before this era, male fashion was mentioned more in fashion history because they had many different outfits such as, soldiers uniforms and suits. Their style changed, but they mostly inspired women's clothing style.

As explained in the previous paragraphs, fashion had multiple reasons why it led to all these styles, but fashion impacted society negatively. There were many people on both sides of this style. Many people accepted these style changes and many did not. Fashion was a big hit at the time. Flappers were well known these groups of women were used for advertising perfume, cigarettes, cosmetics, and fashion advertisements. Flappers were the main hit at the time; they were on advertisements and on films such as The It Girl. Clara Bow, who was a famous on-screen flapper known as the it girl. Her on-screen unpretentious manner was know of her trouble and her sex appeal. This affected people because flappers were seen as sexual items, because of there overexposure of skin. Many people were not fans of flappers which led to a lot of criticism. Some states like Utah passed laws of skirt length, Virginia wanting to ban any dress that revealed too much skin and Ohio wanting to ban form-fitting outfits. Women that wore bathing suits to the beach were often escorted off the beach or even arrested for their exposure of body. The society at the time was deeply affected by the change of fashion and did not want any more of it. These are some examples of what would happen to people that would wear such items. Fashion in the 1920s led to society not being content. Women’s exposure to skin was not acceptable and led to many problems. Flappers then came to an end because no one could afford this lifestyle anymore due to the Great Depression.

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In conclusion, fashion really had a great impact in the 1920s, but there were many problems that came along with this. It all started with women gaining freedom and wanting to express that through clothing and letting changes happen in their style. From lowering waistbands to having lower necklines, several events led to these changes like the 19th Amendment and giving women their freedom. Traditional style fashion for women with long dresses, corsets, and high waistbands were gone. As for men, there were many changes in the male fashion styles as well. There were new clothes like new trousers and hats. Many parts of society were not accepting these changes. The change in style led to women being arrested for their exposure of skin and people thinking that they were ‘’rebelling’’ this shows how American society was affected negatively. But in all, the 1920s had its ups and downs. This era was famous for its fashion, but it also had many events that made America the way it is today. This is important to know because if it was not for the style changes at this time, then the style before this timing could have still existed. For example, if the 1920s fashion never happened, women today would not be allowed to show most skin or have short dresses. As a result to this time period, it allowed everyone's style to change and let everyone express themselves through fashion which helped America be the country it is today. For some people fashion is a big part of them, allowing people to express themselves and be who they are, which helped America be the country it is today. As a result of fashion changes in the 1920s women are able to express themselves more freely in the present.

Works Cited

  1. Redding, Karina. “1920-1929.” Fashion History Timeline, 11 May 2018,
  2. History of Women's 1920s Fashion - 1920 to 1929.” Glamour Daze, 24 Aug. 2018,
  3. Thomas, Pauline. “1914-1920 Towards Dress Reform in 1920s Fashion History.” Fashion History, Costume Trends and Eras, Trends Victorians - Haute Couture, 5 Sept. 2018,
  4. Editors. “Flappers.”, A&E Television Networks, 6 Mar. 2018,
  5. Nissan, Slavena Salve. “ The Influence of 1920s Fashion.” The Macaulay Messenger, 13 Dec. 2013,
  6. Shrimpton, Jayne. Fashion in the 1920s. Oxford: Shire Publications, 2013.          
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How Fashion Has Changed Over Time: Effects on American Society. (2023, August 04). GradesFixer. Retrieved December 10, 2023, from
“How Fashion Has Changed Over Time: Effects on American Society.” GradesFixer, 04 Aug. 2023,
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