Flappers and Campus Culture

1920s Flapper Dress Pattern

1920s Flapper Style Dress

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The 1920s and 1930s saw the youth market expand further. In Britain, despite a general economic downturn, young workers' disposable incomes gradually rose, and they were courted by a growing range of consumer industries. In the United States, the economic boom of the 1920s also ensured a budding youth market, while distinctive styles became increasingly associated with the young. The image of the young, female "flapper" was especially prominent. With her sleek fashions, short bobbed hair, and energetic leisure pursuits, the archetypal flapper featured in many advertising campaigns as the embodiment of chic modernity.

Clothing styles geared to young men also became more distinctive. From the 1890s sportswear became popular for casual attire. Shirt styles previously worn for sports replaced more formal garb as a new, leisure-oriented aesthetic surfaced within young men's fashion. Indicative was the appearance of the "Arrow Man," who became a fixture of advertisements for Arrow shirts from 1905 onward. A model of well-groomed and chisel-jawed masculinity, the "Arrow Man" was a youthful and stylish masculine archetype whose virile muscularity guaranteed a fashion-ability untainted by suspicions of effeminacy. With the expansion of American colleges and universities during the 1920s, an identifiable "collegiate" or "Ivy League" style of dress also took shape. Clothing firms such as Campus Leisure-wear (founded in 1922), together with the movie, magazine, and advertising industries, gave coherence to this smart-but-casual combination of button-down shirts, chino slacks, letter sweaters, cardigans, and loafers.

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