Teenage Girls Fashion in the 1920s

Teenage Girls Fashion in the 1920s

1920 Teen Girls

A few weeks ago I wrote about High School Boys/Young men’s fashion in the 1920′s. Now I want to take a quick look an teen girls clothing from the 1920′s.

It is a tricky subject to research because the term teenager wasn’t used until the 1940′s. In terms of buying clothing high school age kids in the 1920′s were either children/youth up to age 16 or small women. Since the ideal style was for women was to look like young girls, there was very little difference between women’s fashion and teen clothing. Both liked loose, dropped waist, dresses in bright colors and fun straw or cloche hats with all the rich trimmings women enjoyed too.

Clothing and textiles was a class taught to high school girls.  I have several text books on the subject which are quite fascinating to read. They describe the history of clothing design, how to choose garments for your body type, what fabrics are good quality, how to clean your clothes, and what an appropriate budget would be. In one book the suggested wardrobe for a high school girl is:

Essential wardrobe items: 1 wool skirt, 1 spring coat, 1 blouse, 1 party dress, 1 kid gloves, 6 Teenage Girls Fashion in the 1920shandkerchiefs, 1 hiking shoes, 1 sport shoes, 1 rubber boots, 1 pair slippers, 2 pajamas, 2 winter pajamas, 2 combination suits, 2 bloomers, 4 stockings, 1 robe.

Optional clothing:  Spring suit, winter coat, jersey dress, flannel dress, 2 blouses, slip- on sweater, winter silk dress, summer silk dress, evening dress, organdy dress, pongee dress, percale or gingham, felt hat, straw hat, gloves, rain slicker and hat, oxford(s), patent leather party shoes, white canvas summer shoes, canvas tennis shoes, bedroom slippers, galoshes, rubbers, slips/pongee, winter pajamas, 2 summer pajamas, combo suits, dark bloomers, light bloomers, undershirts, and ribbed stockings in cotton and wool silk.

Most items were homemade or mail order catalog purchases. As a teen girl grew her mother may have re-purposed some of her own dresses into ones for her daughter. Just like teens today there was a great demand on mothers by their teenagers to dress on trend and always have new things. Often a mother would sacrifice her own wardrobe budget in favor of supplying her daughter with new silk hose instead of practical cotton or a store bought party dress for her graduation.

Teenage Girls Fashion in the 1920s

1922 Girls Summer Dresses

Teens loved the movies and copied every fashion they saw, scouring over movie magazines, and looking up to older siblings who went off to college and came back as flappers! They were the first to adopt new styles, often against the wishes of parents and strict school policies. They rolled their stockings, bobbed their hair, wore brain-binders (tight ribbon headbands), wore makeup (after leaving the house), and played sports.

In winter they wore rubber overshoes (galoshes. Teens liked to undo the buckles and let them “flap” flap” flap” as they walked. Some history books think this may be an explanation for where the name “flapper” came from.

“Galoshes were exceedingly ugly overshoes that had

Teenage Girls Fashion in the 1920s

Overshoes

about six metal buckles, but we didn’t close them. We spread them as wide as the tongue permitted, and the flaps slapping against each other made the most satisfying swish and jingle with every step!

In search of a more sophisticated look, we began fastening all but the top two buckles. The turned-down top made a cuff that fit neatly around the ankle, while the tongue  left upright, made an artistic butterfly in front.” – Katherine Funck, From Flappers to Flivvers

Sports clothing in school was a long white middy blouse with rolled up sleeves, black sailor scarf, black bloomers, black stockings, and rubber sole tennis shoes. Bloomers worn for fashion were made of sateen in blue, red, green or purple. They fastened around the top knee with an elastic band with the extra fabric rolled down over the knee cap and hung a few inches below. This sport uniform had been around for quite a few decades before and some after too. The look was adopted by women too for sport and leisure wear.

Teenage Girls Fashion in the 1920s

1924 Chicago Bowling Team with Middy Tops and Skirts

Gymnasium was a common high school class of which several girls pursued careers in after high school. Other career aspirations were nursing, secretarial studies, teaching, and stenographer. Many girls were going off to college after high school. Some worked as retail “shop girls” to support their school expenses and also their extensive wardrobe.

Teenage Girls Fashion in the 1920s

1927 Teen Sportswear- Middy Tops, Bloomers, Skirts

Here are a few catalogs scans of clothing geared towards older girls and small women. These would have been clothing the teenagers would have selected:

Teenage Girls Fashion in the 1920s

Hats for Teens in 1922

Teenage Girls Fashion in the 1920s

Teen Girls Dresses

Teenage Girls Fashion in the 1920s

1926 Teen Party Dresses

 

Teenage Girls Fashion in the 1920s

Teen and Small Women Coats

 

Do you want to do your own research on 1920s fashion? Read the how to research fashion history article to get started.

 

 

 

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About Debbie Sessions

Debbie Sessions is passionate about wearing history through fashion. She and her husband, Oscar, have turned their hobby into a career by teaching others how to re-create vintage style with affordable new vintage inspired clothing and accessories. We connect shoppers to the best vintage inspired clothing, shoes and accessories to buy online making VintageDancer a great place to start your shopping. When not working Debbie and Oscar enjoy living in their vintage 1920's house and raising their new baby girl in Reno, Nevada, USA

One thought on “Teenage Girls Fashion in the 1920s

  1. Deborah Clark

    Thank you so much for this! I just did a post on teenagers in the 40s, and this topic is fascinating to me. I have wondered about the ‘flapper’, there are many stories about the name came to be, but this one makes sense. And thanks for explaining overshoes. i have wondered!

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