If the fit and flare of the Twenties makes your heart flutter, look here for suggestions on creating a 1920s capsule wardrobe. As I’ve stated in an earlier article, the concept of the capsule wardrobe didn’t really appear until the late Thirties. Even though we’re still more than ten years ahead of the times, we can still use Twenties clothing to create a great versatile wardrobe.
You might think, after looking at various photos of 1920s clothing, that women wore nothing other than one-piece dresses. This is simply not true, which is a good thing for those who want to incorporate a 1920s capsule wardrobe into their costuming. Suits appeared at the business office, for various sporting events, and at the train station. They came into use quite often during travel because they made it possible to pack few clothes for many different days and occasion. Surprise! The 1920s capsule wardrobe at work during vacation and travel.
First, choose a suit as a foundation. It can be classic or faddish in styling, whichever you prefer. Either the suit above or the one below would prove a great starting point for a beginning 1920s wardrobe. All these photos date from 1922-1924, so they fit well together without trying to emulate the teenager “flapper” look. These are the clothes that real women wore in the Twenties before 1925.
For a 1920s capsule wardrobe you only need one suit jacket to start with. The top example is more flirty and fun, while the bottom suit is more businesslike. Its jacket would work with a variety of skirts. Choose one that fits its intended wear. The best reconstruction in the world won’t work if you choose an after-five dress and all you attend are afternoon tea parties! You will look just a bit out of place wherever you go.
So, assuming that you plan to live during the daylight hours, a simple suit gives you a matching jacket and skirt. You could choose any color, from peach to dark brown, or from dark green to blue. Make it a color you like, and that you can build a wardrobe around. Remember, it’s hard to match pinks and reds with like colors unless the fabrics were designed to go together. It can be done, but it takes time, patience, and fabric swatches.
This skirt blends well with the double breasted jacket. Or, if you prefer, here’s another, more dressy option.
The skirt with side draperies on the bottom is actually much easier to construct than the tailored skirt above it. Either one would look nice as part of a small 1920s capsule wardrobe.
Of course, once you have your skirts all determined, you need blouses to finish the outfit. A 1920s capsule wardrobe shines here. Blouses and tops were popular, with distinctive designs and folksy embroidery. Here are some examples:
With one suit, one extra skirt, and three blouses you have a total of six outfits, worn with or without the jacket. Because the jacket likely won’t work with all the tops you select, you can count on six ensembles instead of nine. Add a simple white silky top without too much decoration and the draped skirt above, and you have a nice dressy combination as well.
Once you have six workable pieces, enough to take up a few inches in your closet but no more, you can evaluate your new wardrobe and decide what additional pieces you need. In the next article I’ll give examples of add-ons that will take your small 1920s capsule wardrobe to the next level. Plus, it will become even more versatile.