10 Iconic Beauties Who Defined 1930s Style

10 Iconic Beauties Who Defined 1930s Style


At the start of the decade, following the fallout from the Great Depression in America, 1930s fashion as well as all other aspects of normality were profoundly changed.

Almost overnight the vivaciousness of the 1920s fashion flapper disappeared, with a sophisticated and more conservative style becoming de rigueur. Moving into the latter half of the decade, 1930s fashion was heavily influenced by Hollywood’s glamour while day-wear took a turn for the practical with women like Katharine Hepburn embracing sportswear looks; a trend that influenced 1940s fashion and is still loved by dozens of designers today.

Not earmarked as conventionally beautiful by film producers, Bette Davis became every girls hero everywhere when she famously proclaimed, ‘Hollywood wanted me to be pretty, but I fought for realism.’ Aside from being a feminist icon, Bette’s style icon status lay in her signature blonde bob which she rocked in the ’30s.

Not earmarked as conventionally beautiful by film producers, Bette Davis became every girls hero everywhere when she famously proclaimed, ‘Hollywood wanted me to be pretty, but I fought for realism.’ Aside from being a feminist icon, Bette’s style icon status lay in her signature blonde bob which she rocked in the ’30s.

A 1930s fashion icon and the heiress of the Woolworth’s fortune, Barbara Hutton was the latter day social scene Queen, travelling the world to attend lavish parties and dubbed the ‘poor little rich girl’ after hosting an expensive debutante ball amid the Great Depression. With an intense passion and fascination for jewellery, Barbara’s collection rather than her wealth was what she left behind, with her vast collection spanning jade necklaces, Cartier pieces and a pearl necklace previously owned by Marie Antoinette. A collection any jewellery enthusiast would envy.

A 1930s fashion icon and the heiress of the Woolworth’s fortune, Barbara Hutton was the latter day social scene Queen, travelling the world to attend lavish parties and dubbed the ‘poor little rich girl’ after hosting an expensive debutante ball amid the Great Depression. With an intense passion and fascination for jewellery, Barbara’s collection rather than her wealth was what she left behind, with her vast collection spanning jade necklaces, Cartier pieces and a pearl necklace previously owned by Marie Antoinette. A collection any jewellery enthusiast would envy.

Carole Lombard – by George Hurrell 1937. Scanned by jane for Dr. Macro’s High Quality Movie Scans website: http://doctormacro.com/. Enjoy!

Another star of the screen who defied conventional perceptions of beauty of the time, Jean is remembered from her platinum blonde bob (which inspired thousands of copycats to get their barnets cut in a similar fashion), rosebud lips and arched eyebrows as well as her clothing and acting ability. A worthy endorsement if we ever heard one, Marilyn Monroe often referred to Jean as her idol – and therefore, we now do too.

Another star of the screen who defied conventional perceptions of beauty of the time, Jean Harlow is remembered from her platinum blonde bob (which inspired thousands of copycats to get their barnets cut in a similar fashion), rosebud lips and arched eyebrows as well as her clothing and acting ability. A worthy endorsement if we ever heard one, Marilyn Monroe often referred to Jean as her idol – and therefore, we now do too.

Often the dancing partner of the dapper Fred Astaire in films, Ginger was known for her constantly changing hair. Straight, wavy, sleek bobs and classic up-dos; Ginger wore them all. She left her distinct mark on 1930s fashion with her super sleek gowns, which showed off her enviable figure as well as her dancing sills.

Often the dancing partner of the dapper Fred Astaire in films, Ginger Rogers was known for her constantly changing hair. Straight, wavy, sleek bobs and classic up-dos; Ginger wore them all. She left her distinct mark on 1930s fashion with her super sleek gowns, which showed off her enviable figure as well as her dancing sills.

Coming into her own in the 1930s, Joan became one of MGM’s biggest female stars, and was at one point one of the highest paid women in Hollywood. Her style was constantly changing ahead of the trends of the time. Joan’s partnership with legendary costume designer Gilbert Adrian made her one of the most well dressed women both on and off screen. The over-starched and ruffled dress which Adrian designed for Joan’s character in Letty Lynton was so popular that manufacturers across America started producing budget replicas, with Macy’s department store selling 15,000 copies! It was probably one of the most iconic dresses ahead of Audrey Hepburn’s Breakfast At Tiffany’s look in the era of 1960s fashion – and that’s saying something.

Coming into her own in the 1930s, Joan Crawford became one of MGM’s biggest female stars, and was at one point one of the highest paid women in Hollywood. Her style was constantly changing ahead of the trends of the time. Joan’s partnership with legendary costume designer Gilbert Adrian made her one of the most well dressed women both on and off screen. The over-starched and ruffled dress which Adrian designed for Joan’s character in Letty Lynton was so popular that manufacturers across America started producing budget replicas, with Macy’s department store selling 15,000 copies! It was probably one of the most iconic dresses ahead of Audrey Hepburn’s Breakfast At Tiffany’s look in the era of 1960s fashion – and that’s saying something.

Few women have caused lasting influence on fashion as much as Katharine Hepburn. A champion of the menswear trend, Hepburn is perhaps one of the people to thank for the wide legged trousers and shirts which are still on trend today. In 1986, Hepburn’s influence was recognised by the Council of Fashion Designers of America, who awarded her with a lifetime achievement award. (AP Photo/File)

Few women have caused lasting influence on fashion as much as Katharine Hepburn. A champion of the menswear trend, Hepburn is perhaps one of the people to thank for the wide legged trousers and shirts which are still on trend today. In 1986, Hepburn’s influence was recognised by the Council of Fashion Designers of America, who awarded her with a lifetime achievement award. (AP Photo/File)

Another actress who defied the pressures of Hollywood was Marlene Dietrich who is famous (among other things) for saying: ‘I dress for myself. Not for the image, not for the public, not for fashion, not for men.’ While also a fan of the humble ball gown, Marlene became the first famous woman in history to rock a tuxedo, with Angelina Jolie and co. taking suit (pun intended) all these years later. We applaud you, Marlene. 1930s fashion trends truly wouldn’t have been the same with her.

Another actress who defied the pressures of Hollywood was Marlene Dietrich who is famous (among other things) for saying: ‘I dress for myself. Not for the image, not for the public, not for fashion, not for men.’ While also a fan of the humble ball gown, Marlene became the first famous woman in history to rock a tuxedo, with Angelina Jolie and co. taking suit (pun intended) all these years later. We applaud you, Marlene. 1930s fashion trends truly wouldn’t have been the same with her.

Probably better known as the woman whom King Edward VIII abdicated for in 1936 (as seen in hit Netflix show The Crown), Wallis Simpson also became a style icon while under the public scrutiny – so much so that Roland Mouret is quoted as saying, ‘Love her or hate her, the world is still obsessed by that woman.’ Known as a bit of a fashion maverick, Wallis was infamously photographed by Cecil Beaton in 1937 wearing a Schiaparelli dress, designed in collaboration with Salvador Dali, depicting a lobster. The placement of the lobster was said to have had great sexual connotations that were seen as scandalous at the time.

Probably better known as the woman whom King Edward VIII abdicated for in 1936 (as seen in hit Netflix show The Crown), Wallis Simpson also became a style icon while under the public scrutiny – so much so that Roland Mouret is quoted as saying, ‘Love her or hate her, the world is still obsessed by that woman.’ Known as a bit of a fashion maverick, Wallis was infamously photographed by Cecil Beaton in 1937 wearing a Schiaparelli dress, designed in collaboration with Salvador Dali, depicting a lobster. The placement of the lobster was said to have had great sexual connotations that were seen as scandalous at the time.

Gone With the Wind starlet Vivien Leigh was breathtakingly beautiful and well dressed to match. A fan of Schiaparelli, Lanvin, Dior and Balmain, Vivien was not only known for her on-screen success – she won two Oscars for Best Actress – but also her off-screen wardrobe. One of Vivien’s favourites, Dior would later redefine the way women dressed during the decade of 1950s fashion, known as the ‘New Look’.

Gone With the Wind starlet Vivien Leigh was breathtakingly beautiful and well dressed to match. A fan of Schiaparelli, Lanvin, Dior and Balmain, Vivien was not only known for her on-screen success – she won two Oscars for Best Actress – but also her off-screen wardrobe. One of Vivien’s favourites, Dior would later redefine the way women dressed during the decade of 1950s fashion, known as the ‘New Look’.

via Marie Claire


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