Art Deco Fashion

Art Deco Fashion - Part 3

Theme 3: Sports & Leisure

Style Icon: The Sporty Girl

This is Part 3 of a 3 Part Art Deco Fashion History Series, broken out into 3 Art Deco Themes: 

Art Deco Sports & Leisure Fashion

  1. Progressive Modernity
  2. Luxury & Glamour
  3. Sports & Leisure

The Style Icons that best represent these themes are:

  1. The Flapper
  2. The Silver Screen Goddess
  3. The Sporty Girl

These fashion icons epitomized the eclecticism of Art Deco fashion and revolutionized the fashion world!


Art Deco Fashion History

Thanks to the booming economy, society felt financially stable and secure and began to take an interest in exotic travel.  Moreover, women turned away from the traditional roles imposed on them, and took up non-traditional roles - like that of the tennis player or skiier.

The massive interest in leisure activities like travel and sport required a whole new wardrobe of course!  And this brings us to the third and final Art Deco fashion 'It' girl - The Sporty Girl.

Art Deco Fashion - Vintage Vogue Cover, June 1927 - Tennis Player

Art Deco Fashion "Ski Chic" - Image Source: Shrimpton Couture - History of Ski Wear

Women began to take part in a variety of leisure activities in the 1920's and 1930's.  Sports - a traditionally male-dominated arena - began to draw in women participants. Popular sports of the day were tennis, skiing, bicycling, sailing, golfing and swimming.

These activities were often performed in private clubs and required an appropriate civilian outfit (you obviously couldn't walk into a posh country club in a bathing suit, no matter how cute your new swimming cap!)

This leisure outfit still required the same criteria as more formal outfits - style and elegance - but it was supposed to be comfortable and flowy, not constricting. The increased interest in leisurely travel also called for appropriately chic but comfortable travel clothes.

Art Deco Fashion - 1920s Leisure Wear

Art Deco Leisure Fashion

Clothing had to be both functional and beautiful (the classic mantra of Art Deco style). Coco Chanel reigned in this class of fashion.  Her designs were simple, streamlined, comfortable and elegant. Women of the day all coveted this easy, effortless look and 'sportswear', as it came to be known, was all the rage during the Art Deco era. 

Art Deco Leisure Fashion, Photographer: Edward Steichen

Fashion Characteristics of The Sporty Girl

  • Lightweight fabrics - jersey, cotton
  • Weightier fabrics - wool, tweed
  • Simple, streamlined silhouettes
  • Dropped waists
  • Pleated skirts
  • Wide legged trousers
  • Monochromatic colour schemes
  • Masculine, angular jackets
  • The 'Safari' jacket
  • Wide-brimmed sun hats
  • The Classic Chanel LBD - 'The Ford' model

Art Deco Fashion - Coco Chanel's classic LBD "The Ford" model - first introduced by Vogue in 1926


Read PART 1 and PART 2 of the Art Deco Fashion History Series.

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