How Trousers Evolved in 20th Century Women’s Fashion

I’m a rather feminine girl. I generally wear a dress or skirt most days, I have long hair, I love make-up and high heels and regularly paint my nails. This is very much the look we all think of when someone says the word vintage. We think pretty dresses, elegant women dressed from head to toe in classily styled, well-cut skirts and jackets, full make-up and perfectly quaffed hair.

However, there’s one look that gets over looked a lot in vintage clothing that flowed throughout the 20th Century. As women tried to push the boundaries of society this also reflected in their dress. With women becoming increasingly interested in politics and wanting to become part of a world of equality, rather than one rule for men and another for women, they knew they had to dress in a more masculine way to be taken seriously.

As women’s leisure pursuits became more active and more strenuous, it also became a practical solution. For those wanting to spend time horse-riding, playing sports and traveling to far off countries, rather than sitting around drinking tea, reading books and sewing, trousers offered greater freedom and less restriction.

It’s a style that has always intrigued me. During my college years I used to spend hours searching in charity shops for small men’s suits I could wear. I finally found a beautiful Aquastutum three piece suit I paid less than £10 for. It must have been owned by a jockey or someone similar because I’m 5ft 3 and was a size 8 at the time and all I did was nip in the waist on the jacket and waistcoat! I wish I had a photo of me in it to show you but there aren’t many pictures of me from back then.

With all that in mind, I have put together some of my favourite vintage androgynous looks from the 1910s through to the 1970s.

Lucille Ltd Design 1910s

Lucille Ltd Design, 1910s

Sports Inspired Clothing 1920s

Sports inspired clothing was worn during leisurely pursuits in the 1920s

Sports Inspired Clothing 1920s

Jodhpurs, riding boots, white shirt and tie was a classic sportswear look of the 1920s and 30s

Barbara Weeks 1930s

Actress Barbara Weeks and friend wear high-waisted, wide leg trousers in the 1930s

Marlene Dietrich 1930s

The queen of the androgynous look, Marlene Dietrich, 1930s

Land Girls 1940s

The Land Girls uniforms, 1940s

1940s Fashion

Masculine shoes, socks and wide leg trousers were popular during the war years

Fashion 1945

Turn up jeans, men’s style jumper, socks and saddle shoes from 1945

1950s Fashion

Pedal pushers, turn up jeans and shapeless shirts create a classic 1950s look

Rockers 1950s

Rocker girls wore skin tight turn up jeans but added killer heels for a little bit of sexy femininity

Brigitte Bardot 1960s

Brigitte Bardot in a drainpipe trouser suit and tie, 1960s

Biba 60s/70s

Biba trouser suit from the late 1960s

Claudia Jennings Playboy December 1974

Model Claudia Jennings in Playboy, December 1974, proving that a three piece suit and tie can be incredibly sexy

Cate

Just a vintage gal suffering from the Golden Age syndrome. Lover of all things old, lingerie obsessive, crafter and enjoys rummaging at flea markets.

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