The iconoclastic American designer and critic, Elizabeth Hawes, called the 1920s “the most hideous period in women’s dress” in her famous book, Fashion is Spinach. Harsh words, but if you study the photo to the left you will see that she had a point. The most distinctive look of the era, the dropped-waist style, did not flatter many women. Older women in particular had problems. The dresses were intended to fall in an unbroken line from the shoulders, but that only worked if there weren’t a lot of curves below.
This photo from Calisphere depicts members of the San Diego Women’s Christian Temperance Union. Taken in late 1929, this look was already going out of style—perhaps not a moment too soon.