Jazz in the Twenties

The dawn of a decade.

The end of the First World War marked a new era. The borders of Europe were redrawn and the USA, along with Britain and France, entered a period of economic prosperity.

By 1920, for the first time in America's history, more people lived in cities than in the country. Increasing mechanisation provided greater leisure time and disposable income than ever before. Women also entered the workforce in growing numbers; a new-found freedom ushered in a new sense of dressing. The dizzying array of choices in the 1920s goes beyond the tubular drop-waist dress immediately associated with the era.

Tennis Match

Movie Première


In the boudoir

Cruiseboat glamour

China Town in the wee hours

Early Jazz Music

Dance Craze

The end of an era

It all ended with a bang. Years of a speculative stock market, overproduction and easy credit (where have we heard this before?) lead to one of the biggest drops in the history of the New York Stock Exchange, signalling a worldwide panic in the industrialised world. The Great Depression would last through the 1930s, with the stock exchange taking until the 1950s to recover completely.

'Black Tuesday', 29 October 1929, is for many historians the theoretical end of the era. The causes of the stock market crash are complicated, but it represents a symbolic shift as the decade-long party was finally over. While the Depression changed everything in the ensuing years, and women's fashions along with it, the great strides made in freedom for women lasted. Through the vote and politics, through birth control and open discussions about sex, the 1920s represented a new way of life. The decade's fashions reflected that seismic change, and altered the way women would dress forever.

Fred Astaire (1899-1987) Adèle Astaire (1896-1981)

Rudolph Valentino (1895 - 1926) Natacha Rambova (1897-1966)

James Abbe (1883 - 1973)

Photographer of the Jazz Age

Abbe is one of the most significant photographers of stage and film stars of the Jazz Age. His work was published in leading magazines of the day such as Vanity Fair, Harper's Bazaar and Shadowland.

Info: James Abbe

In the 20s a lot of attention was paid to women's fashion. Delicate fabrics combined with an abundance of sead beads, agate stones and tube beads combined with rhinestones.

There seemed to be no end to the singular concatenation of partying. Women's clothing showed an abundance of beautiful embroidery and a lot of glitter and glamour. In the Jazz Age women abandoned  the modest dull fashion of earlier times forever.

Main events and fashions of the 1920s