This is the one everyone's been waiting for, I think. I've saved bunches of photos for all of you, mostly from Vintage Textile, the Kyoto Costume Institute (they are amazing), and the Life photo archives. I tried to label them so you could tell where they came from, and put dates on the ones who had them. You can find that info by putting your cursor over the photo and looking at the 'name' of it. Things unlabeled are most likely from Vintage Textile... I've got archives going back a decade of clothes I like, and at first I was sloppy about labels. Whoops.
As with the 1910s, fashion in the 1920s reflected what was going on, socially. The 1920s, more than anything, were about rebellion. Women chopped their hair (though, looking at the archives, I think a good percentage of women KNEW they looked better with long hair and left it that way; good for them), chopped their dresses, and went out and partied. Ostensibly they were celebrating the end of World War One, but personally, I think it was more an attempt to forget the horror of it (the casualty figures make my hair stand on end, just looking at them). After that, yeah, I'd be having a drink and a dance, too.
In the US, prohibition kicked in, in 1919. The general populace answered that with bootlegged booze and bathtub gin. Outlaws were popular heroes, the mob was thriving on the illegal sale of alcohol, and, well. Sociologists have written book upon book about the 1920s and why they were a hunormous party. To me, as I've studied it, it never seems like it was a party for sheer joy, it was a desperate attempt to ignore reality. It didn't work, and reality kicked their asses when the stock market collapsed in 1929.
But while the party lasted, they wore some amazing clothes.
Day wear was waistless, and mostly fitted like a sack. Yes, the first picture is listed as day wear. I'm a little skeptical myself, but Life says it's day wear. Look at her hair.
This kind of thing is really difficult to wear well, as the Life magazine photos show. Heck, even the mannequins look like they have no figure, and they're supposedly PERFECT. For all that the evening clothes were awesome, it takes someone built like a fourteen year old boy (or a fashion model) to really carry them. At least, the loose ones.
Knits as real clothes (rather than underwear or blue-collar work clothing) started to become popular; some of these dresses are made of jersey (tee shirt material).
Some of these dresses, while having a below-waist gather, are fitted enough that they would suit someone with a figure.
For the most part, though, they're very difficult to wear if you're working around figure flaws (and aren't we all?)
On the other hand, if you stayed up all night doing the Charleston and drinking bad booze, you'd likely be on the thin side.
A fascinating variety of evening gown became popular in the 1920s, and still is. The solid-colored 'slip' with a beaded or lace (or both) overdress. In most cases, the underdress is lost, but the overdress remains. Keep in mind when looking at them, the slip would have usually been in a analogous color and tailored to fit the wearer as closely as possible.
This is a clever way to dress. You can wash the daylights out of the slip, get a new one, whatever, and the beaded overdress is fine. The ancient Egyptians did something like this, with beads and plaiting over plain linen.
Chanel started up in this era (many of these clothes are her work), and she's the one who single-handedly introduced the idea of black as evening wear. Black was probably THE go-to color for the decade, if a woman wanted to look sophisticated. Metallics and beads were also popular, in part because they were available to the masses at affordable prices for the first time. (Just like the lace explosion of the Victorian era, when they first developed machine-made lace and women swathed themselves in it.)
And since I know you guys were psyched about seeing the 1920s clothes, here's the more of what I've got in my archives. There's a lot, because I love these clothes, too. Enjoy.