the sportswear of the 1920s

At the end of World War I, fashion was shaped by the designs of Gabrielle Chanel and Jean Patou. They made pared-down, sporty apparel that was more boyish than ever before that could be pulled off only by the increasingly independent woman of the era.

Historical context

After word war I, the society ceased have the same old beliefs and couldn’t return to everyday routines as if nothing had happened. They couldn’t accept their elders’ rosy ideals.

(Here you have a 20s mood playlist!)

Women were just as anxious as the men and refused to return to society’s rules and roles after the war. In the pre-war era, it was the age of the Gibson girl. The Gibson girl didn’t date and waited until a proper young man formally proposed to her. But nearly a whole generation of young men had died in the war, leaving the same number of young women without partners. Young women decided they would not waste their youth waiting for spinsterhood, they were going to enjoy life.

The two made the garçonne or flapper look popular in 1920s. This style was talking about the flapper girl that was free, eliberated even, usually frivolous and undisciplined, that gave up wearing corsets, petticoats and form-fitting clothes. But the new fashion required that one was slim and androgynous, therefore the obsession for diets and losing weight was born.

Although Patou was French, his style had soon become popular in the States. In 1913, a New York boyer purchases an entire collection of his, presaging his future success.

Patou’s brother-in-law Raymond Barbas introduced him to the world of sports and its champions. On meeting the androgynous tennis player Suzanne Lenglen, Patou instantly saw in her the “new woman”. In 1921, Lenglen appeared on court wearing a white pleated silk skirt that skimmed her knees, a sleeveless white masculine sweater and a vivid orange headband – dressed head to toe by Patou. So impressed were the women attenting the championship that they soon appropriated similar styles of dress. Lenglen is most probably also the first sports brand endorser of a fashion brand.

Suzanne Action

SUZANNE LENGLEN WINNING THE 1921 WIMBLEDON CHAMPIONSHIP, HEAD-TO-TOE IN JEAN PATOU

SUZANNE LENGLEN IN JEAN PATOU

SUZANNE LENGLEN IN JEAN PATOU

SUZANNE LENGLEN IN JEAN PATOU

SUZANNE LENGLEN IN JEAN PATOU

Funny thing is that sportswear was developed for the same clientele that bought couture, as Jean Patou was also a couturier. It became so widespread that even women that didn’t engage in sports would wear it.

VOGUE MAGAZINE, 1927

VOGUE MAGAZINE, 1927

MODEL PORTIA GRAFTON WEARING A JEAN PATOU BEACH COAT

MODEL PORTIA GRAFTON WEARING A JEAN PATOU BEACH COAT

PATOU'S SPORTSWEAR SHOP

PATOU’S SPORTSWEAR SHOP

1934 AD FOR IVORY SNOW SOAP FEATURES A PLEATED SHIRT DRESS FROM SPORTSWEAR MAKER B.H. WRAGGE

1934 AD FOR IVORY SNOW SOAP FEATURES A PLEATED SHIRT DRESS FROM SPORTSWEAR MAKER B.H. WRAGGE

ILLUSTRATION BY ARMAND VALLEE

ILLUSTRATION BY ARMAND VALLEE

PHOTOGRAPHY BY GJON MILI

PHOTOGRAPHY BY GJON MILI

"LE COSTUME ROYAL" MAGAZINE, 1927

“LE COSTUME ROYAL” MAGAZINE, 1927

NO SOURCE

NO SOURCE

MONTE CARLO POSTER

MONTE CARLO POSTER

JEAN PATOU SPORTSWEAR IN DEAUVILLE, FRANCE

JEAN PATOU SPORTSWEAR IN DEAUVILLE, FRANCE

NO SOURCE

NO SOURCE

ACTRESS JEAN HARLOW CIRCA 1930s IN WHAT HAD ALREADY BECOME MAINSTREAM FASHION

ACTRESS JEAN HARLOW CIRCA 1930s IN WHAT HAD ALREADY BECOME MAINSTREAM FASHION

NO SOURCE

NO SOURCE

AMERICAN MAGAZINE

AMERICAN MAGAZINE

PS: In the 1930s, Patou was the pioneer of the modern machine knitwear, designing the first knitted swimsuit.

chaldee_1-3

JEAN PATOU SWIMSUIT

Photo credits: Pinterest, Google,
Info sources: ”100 Ideas that changed fashion”; examiner.com; coletterie.com; headtotoefashionart.com; history1900s.about.com; encyclopediaofclothingandfashion.blogspot.com

One thought on “the sportswear of the 1920s

  1. Pingback: an alternative bride | FOLDSANDCONSEQUENCES

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