Once you create a Twenties wardrobe, capsule or not, what are the 1920s wardrobe accessories that pull it together? Last time I talked about creating a Twenties capsule wardrobe. In this post I’ll suggest some add-ons that will make a Twenties outfit stand out. Incorporate a few of these ideas, or use them all to really expand your wardrobe and its capabilities.
Keep in mind that the traditional Twenties wardrobe contained few pieces. Most people didn’t have a closet filled with clothing. Clothes were expensive. The Twenties saw a time of inflation before the Great Depression that had everyone complaining about prices of everything from meat to the clothing budget. Generally, your typical Twenties woman had two to three dresses she wore at home, a visiting dress, perhaps a travel outfit, an evening gown if she moved in those circles, and a few other pieces. Separates such as those found in a capsule wardrobe would be a godsend to someone like this.
So if you begin with six pieces consisting of a travel or business suit, one extra skirt, and three blouses or tops, what will finish your wardrobe? Add one piece at a time, with thought, and you will soon have a beautiful selection of period reproduction garments from which to choose. One of the great benefits is that you can choose what you like from the decade, without the pressure to update your dresses each time the calendar turns.
Hats, Hats, Hats
The most obvious 1920s wardrobe accessories are the small items that finish an outfit. The hat at the top of this post, for instance, would make anyone look twice. Or choose a hat like this one, that gives you more flexibility. This one could top a suit just as easily as an afternoon outfit.
Twenties millinery can be as challenging as learning to work with blocks and wires, or it can be as simple as using a Twenties crochet hat pattern and decorating it to match various outfits. Some fabric hats, such as turbans, used no infrastructure at all.
Bags and Bling
Once you have something to top off the outfit, so to speak, you need a portable container for your things. Here are some options.
One of my favorites, I have this bag almost completed. When made with the size thread suggested, it comes out quite small, about eight inches in length. It would be enough to hold necessities for a day out, but little more. This is a general everyday bag or small workbag if you tat. Nothing much larger than a tatting shuttle, ball of thread, and current project will fit.
This type of handbag was knitted with seed beads. It sparkled every time its owner moved, and these were very popular. Interesting to note, these were not touted as evening bags. This was another type of everyday handbag.
Here’s another example of a beaded handbag. This time, the beads are embroidered onto a satin foundation, and then beads are attached in a netted fringe pattern along the bottom.
…And the bling
Hairstyle accents like this one added pizzazz to an outfit without requiring much storage space. 1920s wardrobe accessories like this dress up the outfits you have.
Belts, sashes, and corsages made from ribbon helped to heighten the dressiness and flash of an ensemble without replacing the dress underneath it. The belt above is made completely from pieces of ribbon, and hand sewn. The dress ornament below is also made from pieces of ribbon.
Ribbon corsages of all shapes and sizes attached to dresses, coats, capes, and hats to change the appearance to suit the wearer and the occasion. Often they were attached to long streamers or strips of lace and suspended from the low waistline of the dress, like this one. These additions pinned to the dress so they could be removed after the event, and they drew the eye away from a plain neckline.
Coats and Wraps
If you plan to go outdoors at all, and you live in an area that produces cold air and snow, you are going to need a cover. This might be something like the spectacular cape coat illustrated above. Or you may prefer an article like a full cape. Long capes were often utilized for evening wear. They gave warmth without crushing delicate lace or ruffles.
If classic is your goal, you might like this 1925 raincoat. With few alterations, these coats still appear in shops and online every year.
Sweaters and Overblouses
An easy way to add mileage to your wardrobe is to add sweaters and other knitted or crocheted items. Sweaters, tops, knitted dresses, shawls, and so on add versatility with just a few items. This knit dress with its matching hat is an example. You can find the entire book, with many sweater and knitted blouse options, from the Antique Pattern Library. View the images and download it here.
A simple cardigan can alter your look at the same time that it provides warmth. You only need one, if you want any at all. A sweater like this makes a great 1920s wardrobe accessory.
Another option is a filet crochet blouse that can go over a Twenties chemise or underskirt you already have. Relatively simple to make and memorable, these little overblouses were quite fashionable in the Twenties.
Shawls and Wraps
Add a shawl to your 1920s wardrobe accessories kit. A nice shawl dresses up an outfit and provides an extra layer if necessary. A shawl can be made from wool and fringed, like the one above, or it can be crocheted, like the one below.
This shawl can be used for dressy or not-so-dressy occasions. In fact, a large square shawl like this could see a lot of use in a Twenties wardrobe.
Making It Your Own
The best way to accessorize a wardrobe is to have a plan. My everyday modern wardrobe looks like it was assembled by a gerbil with ADHD. Don’t do that. Don’t be like me. Spend some time and determine what you want for the basics, and then build from there once you have it.
Looking at the cape coat above, for instance, makes me want to grab my pattern drafting paper and create one as the basis of my wardrobe. Perhaps that’s because I live in the Frozen North, and am looking out at a 12-degree Fahrenheit (-11 Celsius) morning as I write.
Weather aside, perhaps you have a dream and desire of holding historical tea parties. Then build your wardrobe around nice separates. Throw in a one piece dress if you like. Make sure you spend some time researching and making the most darling little tea apron you ever saw. It can be made from sheer organdy, or handkerchief linen, or a fabric you fall in love with. If that apron makes your heart sing every time you see it, you will enjoy every tea party you throw.