The Garonne in the Tailored Suit

The sobriety of dress prescribed by the state of war became the rule in the 1920s. The modern democratic suit was worn night and day. The woolen suit, in masculine style, adopted the new straight and short line. The jersey outfit was extremely popular. Made of knitted wool, silk, or cotton, it was worn with a sweater taken from sporty and American fashions. The boldest of suits of the time was no doubt the pants suit. After a timid appearance around 1890 for riding bicycles, in the form of culottes or bloomers, in the 1920s it was worn as broad trousers with a navy blue jacket, exaggerating the masculine silhouette that was fashionable in the jazz age. Softer, made of silk or printed cotton, the beach pajama was an addition to the summer wardrobe. On the ski slopes, elegant women displayed, with a degree of insolence, outfits of jackets, tunics, and pants in mountain style, the most fashionable made by Hermès. The use of this androgynous outfit, however, remained confined to emancipated and eccentric circles, typical of California or French Riviera lifestyles. Outfits made of flowing silk, dressier, decorated with geometric or exotic designs in rainbow colors, provided a new and more feminine version of the suit. Similarly, the evening suit, lamé, embroidered, and glittering, indicated an unbounded love of partying after years of privation. Jean Patou was the most representative designer of the period; his style, influenced by American lifestyles, gave his suits, which had a masculine and sporty spirit, a singularity that appealed to garçonnes and was gradually more widely imitated. The strict, straight, almost geometric appearance of these suits achieved sophistication through the use of very refined accessories. The images of the American actress Louise Brooks wearing his suits in films and photographs perpetrate the influence of the modernist style of Jean Patou.

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