Formality in Culture

It is evident from the images of the 1920s that culture during this era, still retained a sense of formality and sophistication in daily life, although boundaries were being pushed and explored. This was something that had been championed in the decades before, in the Victorian and Edwardian periods, and would remain until the 1960s.[1] When glancing at the images out of the Genevans, there is a sense of these college students being so much older than they are.  It is hard at some points to distinguish the professors from the students; this is due to the formality in the average college student’s dress. This is particularly the case within the male students of the college who uniformly wear suits or a tailored jacket and pants, always put together never disheveled, appearing professional unlike most college students today.[2] Until the introduction of flapper styles on Geneva campus there was a great amount of formality within the female students, after the emergence of flappers the style culture becomes more playful. The women before this paralleled the style of the men, instead of a suit they wore long black skirts and white blouses from 1920-1922 this was the predominant look throughout Geneva’s campus.[3] Any eveningwear exhibited spoke of contrivance and heaviness, the formality and soberness of the previous decade wearing on the younger generation. Breaking free from this a new type of formality became present on Geneva’s campus, through the women of the campus focusing on tailoring and pairing menswear inspired pieces with their shorter skirts. At Geneva they innovated while still respecting the traditional culture of formality.[4]

Fashion 1921 Trends

Fashion 1921 YMCA Mens trends

Genevan 1925 Mcartney Library  Geneva College

Genevan 1925 Mcartney Library Geneva College

Photo Credit: 1925 Genevan, McCartney Library

Photo Credit: 1925 Genevan, McCartney Library


[1]Drowne, Kathleen. The 1920s. (Westport, CN: Greenwood Press, 2004) 95-96., Gunn, Tim. Tim Gunn’s Fashion Bible: The Fascinating History of Everything in Your Closet. (New York, NY: Gallery Books, 2012), chap 1.

[2] 1924 Genevan.

[3] 1920 Genevan.

[4] 1925 Genevan.

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