Jazz Age at Geneva

The Jazz Age was present on Geneva’s campus throughout the 1920s, seen through clubs like the Geneva Jazzers early in the decade. A Jazz Age attitude in matters of style and taste were not as evident in the Jazzers or other musical groups in the initial years of the decade, their dress was conservative, and the evening wear exhibited was plain instead of decadent. Evening wear as a whole coming out of the Edwardian period was heavy, decadent in ruffles and yards of fabric, as seen in the 1920 Adelphic Society photo, not the sophisticated sleekness of the traditional Jazz Age dropped waist sheath dress. [1] True Jazz Age style appeared in 1926, as expressed through the Girls’ Glee Club photo, there is a dramatic change from the long and couture like gowns of the early 1920s, to a simple dropped waist shift dress of silks and chiffon that are sleek in design.[2] The only adornment seen is through simple pearl necklaces, corsages, hints of lace, or other floral elements, as well as an absence of pattern which continues the attitude of simplicity. This new type of formal evening wear not only raises hemlines, it also introduces a sleeveless silhouette that is not commonly seen in other garments on Geneva’s campus.  To balance out the amount of risk being taken on the rest of the look, the necklines remain conservative at the collarbone, which coincides with the ideal of “garcon” or boyish beauty. It conceals curves as was on trend of the 1920s, as well as draping loosely in the boxy line of Jazz Age of look.[3]

Photo Credit: 1920 Genevan, McCartney Library.

Photo Credit: 1920 Genevan, McCartney Library.

Photo Credit 1926 Genevan McCatney Library

Photo Credit 1926 Genevan McCatney Library

Photo Credit: 1927 Genevan Yearbook, McCartney Library, Geneva College

Photo Credit: 1927 Genevan Yearbook, McCartney Library, Geneva College


[1] 1920 Genevan.

[2] 1926 Genevan.

[3] 1927 Genevan, Gunn, Tim. Tim Gunn’s Fashion Bible: The Fascinating History of Everything in Your Closet. (New York, NY: Gallery Books, 2012), 74.

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