Women’s outerwear reflected 1920’s in its entire glamour – these were luxury garments that not everyone could actually afford, however, they also became popular in different, and less expensive, fabrics and shapes.

Wrap over coats were the essential style, especially in the winter – large buttons and belts galore.

Some women’s jackets and coats also followed a more masculine and classic design adopted from previous decades.

All 1920's Coats found on metmuseum.org.
All 1920’s Coats found on metmuseum.org.

Smart top coats with kimono sleeves either cut in one piece with the body sections or separately, and stitched into the main parts of the coat were very fashionable during the first half of the 1920’s. Sometimes low waisted pouch styled coat bodices topped slightly gathered or even frilled skirt sections. Winter coats with large shawl collars and roomy sleeves, patch or inset pockets, that buttoned high or low, were made in blanket-like materials as well as tweeds and fancier velours. (1)

coat 4
Miss Lorraine Bunch, 1923
coat 5
Model wearing Chanel. Photo by Cecil Beaton for Vogue. 1927

Short, knee length, coats worn during the period, circa 1925-29, usually had straight, or ‘bolster’ shaped, collars, topping unnotched softly rolled reverse that buttoned on the hip line. Smart young flappers often ignored the fastenings and wrapped their coats tightly about their hips, causing the back of the coat to pouch. (1)

In the late 1920’s patterned chiffon was coming into fashion, and chiffon coats were worn over afternoon dresses. (2) 

Berlin, 1920s. Photo by Herbert Hoffmann.
Berlin, 1920s. Photo by Herbert Hoffmann.


During the 1920’s, then, the idea of glamour evolved from its associations with Orientalism and the exotic into something approaching a distinctly modern, feminine style. It was a style that continued to connote artifice, luxury and sensuousness, signally particularly through the wearing of feathers and fur. (3)

Mildred Davis & Pauline Garon.
Mildred Davis & Pauline Garon.

Fur coats were of kolinsky, moleskin, musquash, squirrel, etc, and fur collars and cuffs were added to coats. In 1922 monkey fur was used as trimming; from 1920’s fox was the vogue, worn as a stole or for a coat collar. (2)

Gloria Swanson wearing a black and white monkey fur coat.
Gloria Swanson wearing a black and white monkey fur coat.
Eleanor Boardman, Circa 1925
Eleanor Boardman, Circa 1925

There was a steady demand for feather from farmed and non-endangered species such as ostrich and marabou, for use in stoles and boas. But during the 1920’s the demand for fur rose rapidly, completely eclipsing that for the feathers. By the beginning of the 1920’s, the fur craze in the United States was so frenzied that writers were comparing it to the Dutch tulip fever of the 17th century. (3)

Les Modes (Paris) January 1926 "Pour Chanter" robe du soir par Martial & Armand
Les Modes (Paris) January 1926 “Pour Chanter” robe du soir par Martial & Armand

Capes were also a very popular garment and, in the same way as coats, lighter and delicate fabrics like velvet were worn during spring and summer, and for the colder days, women would prefer heavier fabrics and fur.

These outer garments would also feature new designs influenced by the new art styles of the period. Amazing brocades, exotic, folk motifs and bold geometric patterns were beaded, embroidered, and even painted on garments.

Russian-inspired summer fashion from Paris, Het Leven magazine, 1927
Russian-inspired summer fashion from Paris, Het Leven magazine, 1927

(1) Women’s dress in the 1920’s: an outline of women’s clothing in Canada during the “roaring twenties” by Eileen Collard, 1981
(2) The Cut of Women’s Clothes: 1600-1930 by Norah Waugh, 1994
(3) Glamour – women, history, feminism by Carol Dyhouse, 2010