When thinking of the 1930s, our collective memory brings out glamour, fashion, sophistication and romance. It was in age when men on football stadiums dressed smart, wore tailored suits, ties and hats. A decade in which dressing well was never synonymous with brands and purple labels, but with classy, perfectly fitting, custom-made clothing and an incredible sense of style. It was also a period of a great financial breakdown, when scarcity struck millions and many went hungry.
For many, the only accessible and affordable getaway was Hollywood. It drew millions into the cinemas and submerged them into its dazzling and dreamy movies. The film industry took advantage of its countless audience and began using actresses and their bodies for selling products. The big screen became the world’s biggest fashion trendsetter and catwalk of 1930s.
Hollywood’s impact was so huge, even jewellery was designed to stand out on a black and white screen. Clear gemstones were preferred over coloured ones, which imposed one of the most iconic 1930s jewellery fashion - the sparkle trend.
The demand for jewellery rose despite the financial crisis, thanks to the big screen. Hollywood’s original designs were replicated and mass produced, with sparkling clear stones placed on white metal or silver mountings, resembling diamonds and platinum.
Other popular jewellery materials in the 1930s were painted glass, fake pearls and plastic, used for extravagant, heavy, Victorian inspired necklaces and bracelets. The gents wore large gemstone rings, decorated with a geometric black onyx, ruby or amber.
Ladies engagement rings featured colourful gemstones, pearls or round stones set in platinum or white metal mounting. The most iconic engagement ring setting is the art deco halo, featuring a diamond set in a halo of colourful gemstones. The 1930s fashion and jewellery trends were influenced by exotic locations and featured African, Egyptian and Middle-eastern motifs.
Another common characteristic for art deco engagement rings is shoulder set baguette and step cut diamonds and geometric shapes. Step cut diamonds such as the Cushion and Asscher cut are perfect choices for retro and vintage inspired engagement rings.
1930s Wedding Fashion
Back in the 30s, wedding dresses were conservative - straight cut, high neck, decorated with lace and pearls. For the ultimate 1930s appearance, choose a simplistic dress which flatters the figure and narrows the silhouette, accenting on the shoulders. It could have metallic, lace, pearl or diamante ornaments, faux fur or feathers, however the plainer and simpler, the better. For a more unconventional 1930s enthused wedding look, ladies could go for a custom-made Marlene Dietrich inspired bridal suit.
The essential feature of a bridal tuxedo are the high waist, wide-legged trousers. They would perfectly tie with a feminine lace or diamante top in a matching colour. Let’s not forget the 1930s classic accessories - gloves, dress clips and brooches, turbans, hats worn at an angle and most importantly, art deco jewellery. The most emblematic shoes from the decade are the two-toned, square heeled brogues with cutouts, however any t-strap shoes will flawlessly complete any 1930s wedding outfit.
1930s inspired bridal hairstyles feature romantic curls or soft and wavy loose up-dos, decorated with sparking hair clips and combs. Make up would ideally be kept light and matte finish and nails in natural rose and coral tones.
Jewellery was widely popular and the essential mean to make any cheaply made outfit look glamorous since rougher, imitation garments and mass produced clothing became the norm during the great depression. Fashion industry embraced economical cuts and inexpensive manufacture means. Costs affected clothing designs and spawned the typical 1930s women’s classics. Such are A-line skirts with floral or geometric prints, sailor tops and puffy sleeved dresses, draped with large collars.
Those everyday vintage trends could be transformed into bespoke luxurious bridesmaid outfits. To jazz up a basic bridesmaid dress, we could nip an iconic 1930s evening gown feature - faux furs, feathers or diamante decoration, cut low at the back, tailored to tightly fit and flatter the body flaring below the knees, elegantly lingering on the floor.
1930s Mens Fashion
Gents’ fashion is perhaps best described as “jazz elegance”, bringing forth vigorous and sophisticated looks. High waist, wide legged trousers with turn ups, V-shaped waistcoat or a high and wide sleeved, shoulder padded, double breasted jacket with handmade drapes are the absolute 1930s classic, the safest pick for any groom, best man or guest.
Outfits should include the absolute 1930 men’s accessory staples – fedora hat and a tie or bow tie, combined with a matching handkerchief or boutonniere. The most emblematic 1930s evening men’s shoes are two-toned, lace-up leather brogues.
1930s Wedding decor
Your wedding décor could be as extravagant or plain as you would like it to be – the 1930s were a decade of huge social contrast, so both handmade and deluxe ornaments are suitable. Lace, feathers, faux fur pompoms, sparkling crystal and pearl beads are all elements to be added for the ultimate 1930s wedding party experience. The right tunes for any 1930s-themed event include Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holliday, Bessie Smith and Nat King Cole.