When I’m thinking about the 20-40s, the first thing I would say is that we have to realize that the clothes you wore in the 20s were your clothes.”
There was not, after all, that much of a wardrobe revolution as people are going on about now. Women, and especially black women, were the ones really on the cusp. Many were getting married or working and so clothes did not come in at all for them until their 20s. The best-known example was in New York, where it was believed the “goods” women wore were the ones with the best styles — but it was actually black women who were the ones wearing the best and that’s where the clothes did start to change.
What about the 20s, though?
“The 20s were a very big time,” he says. “The 20s were the time when women started realizing that the only way you were going to be seen was when you were dressed like a man’s woman.
What was the dress code in the 20s?
“There was a lot of black women wearing pants. I remember I used to buy pants the whole time.” He’s referring to the mid-20s, when black women wanted to wear pants — but it wasn’t in the same way as today with the skinny jeans. The clothing that was available then was basically what you’d see in a man’s store.
“The pants really changed a lot.”
When were you and your friends going to get dressed to go to movies?
“We used to wear shorts because we didn’t have pants at home, and the movie-going period was when we wore a lot of things, so we’d go to the movies every night and we would wear shorts and make our own clothes. We had a lot of fun. It was really fun.
“The girls were the ones that really loved clothes on them. I think the women had that too and the guys loved clothes on them.”
What did movie stars wear — if any?
“The good actor’s clothes were made of real wool, leather or suede, and sometimes we had to wear our own shirts and ties, which was a lot more common in those times. My uncle had ties and shirts that were made like that, and that was just cool. That really was a great era for us. We just all wore our own clothes.”
How did that affect your parents
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