Did the Automobile Actually Drive Fashion?

By: Michelle Wamego

Back in the 1920’s it did! The Paris fashion designers of the day had tried to return the dress hemline to a longer length, like those of pre-war era. But consumers were not having it, and after several years of dealing with dis-satisfied clients designers had begun to offer shorter length skirts in about the mid 1920’s. Why would the desire for shorter skirt lengths be so widespread and consumers be so stubborn about wanting them? Well, it happens that shortly after World War I as our economy began to recover, the model-T Ford car was more affordable, and accessible by a large part of the population, and it was much easier to get in and out of the car in the shorter skirts. But that’s not all in fashion the new automobiles affected! Now that folks could get to where they were going without having to walk, the everyday common accessories like the parasol and walking stick were being abandoned. The new cars had another drastic improvement over their first generation, and that was a roof! The hats for ladies in the first 2 decades of the 1900’s were monstrous in size, gorgeous otherwise, but they would not fit inside the car. These hats were so large they had to be pinned to the wearer’s hairdos and it was no simple task to remove them just for a ride. So hats got a lot smaller, and the new craze was the Cloche hat, which now is a symbol of the 1920’s fashionable lady. Even the gentlemen changed their accessory style. The wristwatch was a new innovative way to wear one’s watch, and only the most daring or youngest of fashion followers adopted this manner. But have you ever seen the floorboard, or know how to drive a Model-T? There are 3 upright stick shifts to control your gear, throttle, and engine acceleration, along with a pedal accelerator…. and steer! How could anyone operate such a contraption, and, be able to dig in their vest pocket for their watch; it made a lot more sense to just strap it to your wrist!