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The Great Gatsby Fashion Project
Transcript of The Great Gatsby Fashion Project
Fashion in the 1920s by: Hodman Abshir, Kiley Blodgett, Mayerly Smith
The 1920s were an age of revolution in women's fashion. Women began to wear shorter skirts, comfortable sports wear, flashy evening attire, conservative suits and dresses that hung either straight or flared at the hip. This was a time when casual sporting attire was introduced in Women's fashion with women wearing even from tennis uniforms to sailor blouses.The garçonne look, was quite popular from 1925-1926 and again in 1928-1929. Straight dresses were worn with bust flattening brassieres. The waist completely disappeared, and belts were worn around the hips. The chemise (French for shirt) hung straight down to the knees and was popular from 1925 to 1929. Overall during this period, hems rose, waistlines dropped, corsets disappeared and elaborate bead work became popular on many dresses. All of these sometimes considered radical changes, especially when considering women such as the " new woman" or flappers, came about partially due to newly granted suffrage for women as well as changes after WWI with many women during the war being able to get jobs due to a lack of male workers. This led to many women being more liberated when it came to fashion to express their new freedom and self control.
The bob hairstyle was the most common hairstyle for women during the 1920s. Women's hair during this era caused large controversy and were revolutionary. More and more women were changing their hair to the bob style and were continuously going to get their hair done. The bob was the gateway to many other popular women's fashion trends during the twenties. Not only did the bob inspire a change in fashion, but it inspired a change in societal norms and a shift in how women acted.
The Great Gatsby, fashion is a symbol for wealth. Money was power in the novel, and it also related to the American dream. Being wealthy meant being able to buy extravagant clothing and accessories, and being able to afford getting your hair done constantly. This alludes to the American dream.
While women's fashion was changing rapidly and radically, men's style was changing, but not as radically as women's fashion. According to the University of Vermont's website, " Like women, men loosened the constraints of previous decades and began to acquire a more relaxed, flashier wardrobe. The crease left the pant legs and the tie was abandoned. Colorful suits and patterned socks accented the wardrobe of the casually dressed. However, the casual look was not for everyone, and many men still donned more conservative attire for the office, such as creased, clean-cut suits, neatly trimmed hair, neckties, and long overcoats. At the end of the 1920s, the leather jacket and cap was a popular style." Men's fashion was also influenced by sports attire and what athletes were wearing.
Some famous icons included actresses such as Louise Brooks, Anna May Wong, Dolores del Rio, Coco Chanel, and Greta Garbo to name a few. This leading ladies helped revolutionize fashion with those such as Coco Chanel introducing loose Jersey fabrics and long strings of pearls to the fashion world.
The 1920s were an age of hats, with the most popular hats being the cloche hat which is a small, round hat that closely covered the face and was worn low on the brow. Large, droopy wide rimmed hats were also in fashion at this time. Furs were also critical to the 1920s style . Long, straight cut fur coats were all the rage. Jewelery wise, women wore long strands of pearls as well as dangling chandelier earrings and large bracelets. Black stockings were in for the first half of the era, and dark nude stockings were popular during the other half. Women also used wraps to cover their shoulders. These wraps were either made out of fur if you were rich, or if you were less wealthy you had large silk scarves that were pinned to the side with brooches. Women carried fancy beaded handbags for formal events. Popular hair accessories for women that had bob haircuts were ribbons, since they did not want to cover up their hair.
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby depicts the change in fashion that occurred during the 1920s, which was a time of social and moral decay. The narrator, Nick Carraway goes into great depths when describing the fashion of people around him because the type of clothes a person wore said something about them. A person's clothes represented their prestige, the more glamorous one's garment was the wealthier they were. In spite of this, taste in fashion were vastly different between East Egg, which represented the old rich, and the West Egg, which was the newly rich. Tom, Daisy's husband, dresses in a more conservative and traditional manner, similar to the wealthy aristocracy of prior centuries, as can be seen in the following quote, "Not even the effeminate swank of his riding clothes could hide the enormous power of that body- he seemed to fill those glistening boots until he strained the top lacing, and you could see a great pack of muscle shifting when his shoulder moved under his thin coat" (Fitzgerald, 7). Tom, who comes from "old money", meaning he inherited all his fortune, dresses in a more conservative manner, and thus to show how he is conservative and traditionalist. The old rich did not deviate from traditional norms and had elegant tastes, their clothes were simple yet stunning at the same time.
The new rich lived in West Egg and were ostentatious and flamboyant, their fashion was grandiose and was meant to represent their wealth, for instance Jay Gatsby's residence was a stunning and spectacularly large mansion, he threw constant parties there in order to make others know his wealth. As a newly wealthy man, Gatsby flaunts his wealth, and one way he does so is through his clothing, for example, when he is described as wearing, "... a white flannel suit, silver shirt, and gold colored tie..." (Fitzgerald 84). Gatsby flaunts his wealth and throws grandiose parties nearly every evening, this is because Gatsby acquired a great sum of money in a short period of time. Gatsby was born poor and always desired to become rich and successful, when he finally acquired the money he went ballistic, and spent his money on what ever expensive item that he could buy, which explains why Gatsby dresses in a flamboyant and ostentatious manner.
"1920s." - Clothing. University of Vermont, n.d. Web. 10 June 2015. <http://www.uvm.edu/landscape/dating/clothing_and_hair/1920s.php>.
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Clemente, Deirdre. "The Great Gatsby's Fabulous Betrayal of 1920s Fashion." The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 08 May 2013. Web. 10 June 2015.
Fitzgerald, F. Scott. <i>The Great Gatsby</i>. New York: Scribner, 2004. Print.
Kaminetzky, Tzirel. "Fashion That Roared: 1920s Evening Wear." ABC News. ABC News Network, 10 May 2013. Web. 10 June 2015.
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"Men's Fashion in the 1920s." LoveToKnow. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 June 2015. <http://mens-fashion.lovetoknow.com/Men%27s_Fashion_in_the_1920s>.
The topic of fashion is significant in the Great Gatsby because fashion represents how wealthy someone is, but more importantly a person's class. Tom dressed more traditionally would show how he is wealthy like Gatsby, however, he dresses and acts differently because of how he inherited his money and this idea is reflected in his clothing. When Gatsby and Daisy reunited, Gatsby tries to flaunt his wealth to Daisy in hopes of winning her heart, “He took out a pile of shirts and began throwing them, one by one, before us, shirts of sheer linen and thick silk and fine flannel, which lost their folds as they fell and covered the table in many colored disarray” (Fitzgerald, 92) This scene where Gatsby is showing off his bright colorful clothing really reflects how Gatsby's whole life has been dedicated to showing off his wealth through large items such as his mansion, to smaller items such as his flashy shirts. The brightness and color of his clothing represent how he is newly wealthy, unlike Tom for example who comes from a wealthy family, and it also represents how he is less traditional or conservative than Tom. Gatsby’s bright and flashy clothing overall represents how Gatsby was a new form of the American Dream, newly wealthy and ambitious, willing to do anything to achieve the American dream.