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30s fashion dressWelcome to thirties fashion....The most characteristic U.S. fashion trend from the thirties to the end of World War II was the focus on the shoulders, with butterfly sleeves, banjo sleeves, and overstated shoulder pads for both men and women. The thirties also saw the first widespread use of synthetic fibres, notably rayon for dresses and viscose for liners and intimate apparel, and man-made nylon stockings. The zipper also became widely used. These essentially U.S. developments were echoed, in various degrees, in the UK and Europe. Travelling and sunshine holidays to places like the south of France and other Mediterranean resorts, the Bahamas and Florida became popular with people in the early thirties. This led to new classes of clothes: white tuxedos for men and beach pajamas, halter tops, and bare midriffs for women. Fashion trendsetters in the period included Hollywood film stars such as Fred Astaire, Carole Lombard and Joan Crawford.

The carefree, innovative attitude and fashions of the late twenties hung around through most of 1930, but by the close of that year the effects of the depression started to affect the public, and a more cautious approach to fashion displaced that of the twenties. For women, skirts became longer and the waist was returned up to its previous position in an attempt to bring round a more traditional feminine look. Other facets of fashion from the twenties took longer to phase out. Cloche hats persisted in their popularity until about 1933 while short hair continued to be popular for many ladies until later in the decade.

Feminine curves were brought to the fore through the use of the bias-cut in dresses. Madeleine Vionnet was the pioneer of the bias-cut and used it to create sculptural dresses that moulded and shaped over the body's contours as it draped the female form.

Through the mid-thirties, the natural waistline often went with an emphasis on the empire line. Short bolero jackets, capelets, and dresses cut with fitted midriffs or seams below the bust added to the focus on the breadth of the shoulder. By the late thirties, emphasis was moving to the back, with halter necklines and high-necked but backless robes with sleeves. Evening dresses with matching jackets were worn when having a saturday night out on the town or at an elegant restaurant. Skirts continued at mid-calf length for day wear, but by the end of the thirties French designers were showing fuller skirts reaching just below the knee; this practical length would remain in vogue for day dresses through to 1945.

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