Vintage Bookclub – 1930s Fashion: The Definitive Sourcebook

The second book in a series of fashion tomes dedicated to 2oth century clothing, 1930s Fashion: The Definitive Sourcebook is a collection of carefully curated photographs, illustrations and publicity shots which pull together an overview of a decade in fashion. Mostly concentrating on the two most influential sources for women’s fashions during the decade – French fashion houses, and Hollywood pictures – the book covers everything from movie stills to catalogue spreads, giving a concise overview of the styles and silhouettes of the day.


A lengthy introduction neatly explains the decade’s attitude to fashion – sandwiched between two of the most tumultuous events of the last century (namely, the start of the Great Depression and the declaration of World War II), the 30s is often overlooked. Coming between the glamour of the 20s and the practicality of the 40s, this is a decade that draws a blank with many people, yet was responsible for transforming the free and easy flapper of the Roaring Twenties into the pragmatic factory girl of the war. Although brief, this overview is hugely educational and gives a fantastic background to the gorgeous images that follow.

At nearly 600 pages, and with over 600 illustrations packed into its glossy pages, this is a treasure trove for the vintage fashion lover, containing original (some never before seen) imagery sourced from everywhere from news archives to magazine covers, press and publicity shots, and catalogues.

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The book is divided into six main sections, including the introduction, plus daywear, outerwear, eveningwear, accessories and ‘other’, which includes sportswear, wedding dresses, childrens’ clothes, underwear and nightwear.


There is a vast array of imagery to dwell on in here – and although the social history is mostly left down to your interpretation, as original editorial content from the day is limited to a few captions here and there which remain on the images themselves, this really feels like a book you could flick through for years and still discover something new on each reading.


The book is also crammed full of photos of beautiful Hollywood stars – above is Dorothy Lamour in a silk evening dress from 1939, and there are also photos of Carole Lombard, Joan Crawford (in her famous Letty Lynton gown), Fay Wray and Barbara Stanwyck. amongst others.


The accessories section is of particular interest if you’re a massive hat enthusiast like me – although shoes were a bit thin on the ground (ha) but obviously visible in the full-length shots.

Even if you’re not a vintage follower who concentrates on ’30s fashion, this is a definite must-have for your book collection – and it’s definitely inspired a passion for the era in me! Graceful silhouettes, bold tailoring, gorgeous accessories, and glamour on every page – what’s not to love about this beautiful and under-appreciated decade!

This truly beautiful coffee table book was edited by Charlotte Fiell and Emmanuelle Dirix, and is out now for £30 from Goodman Fiell Books. Find it at Amazon here, currently at £19.20. C’mon, give the ’30s some love!

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