"And for every Fitzgerald Flapper of the twenties, there were countless fatigued and undernourished textile mill operators and migratory fruit pickers and mining town and ghetto housewives who never knew the life of Zelda Fitzgerald." - Burl Noggle, "Into the Twenties"
We've all been glued to the TV to watch the glamour that is Downtown Abby and with the hotly-anticipated arrival of the new The Great Gatsby, one could be forgiven for thinking the Golden Decade of the 1920s as just fast cars, drop hem frocks, glamorous parties and Bright Young Things.
"Great Gasby" 2013 dir. Baz Luhrmann
"The Great Gatsby" 1974 dir. Jack Clayton
While life must have seemed positively prosperous compared to the war years, the reality was that Britain was still a land stricken with poverty. Interwar unemployment and poverty was the dominant issue of the day. Even in America only a very small minority were privileged enough to live the American Dream and ascend from poverty to wealth. The unfortunate silent majority living in suburbs of the big cities or on poor farmlands spent the 1920's merely trying to survive. Even before the great depression of the 1930's life for most was a million miles away from the glamour of Downton Abbey and The Great Gatsby.
1920s Factory Workers
Clothing was simple and functional. 1920s dresses were designed for freedom of movement which was fortunate with so many women now in the workforce.
The twenties work dresses were decorated simply with pin-tucks and simple embroidery, or sailor collars. The extravagant ornate beading of the 1920s flapper dresses, vampish stoles and twinkling feathered headbands which we know and love (oh yes we do) was for the very privileged.
So when you're on the hunt for some fabulous glitzy 1920's style numbers to update your wardrobe this season, spare a thought for those who never knew the life of Zelda Fitzgerald or Lady Mary Crawley!