Learn How SIMPLE
Digital Patterns Really Are!

Sign Up to Receive
The Ultimate Guide to Digital Sewing Patterns eBook + a FREE Skirt Pattern!


Today we’re exploring four exciting eras in fashion: the 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s. Which one are you? Read on and see more images and get the patterns to create these looks yourself!

We all have our favorite fashion moments and eras, icons and styles. If you were to choose your favorite era from the list below, which would it be?

1920s The 20s usually brings the same word to everyone’s lips: flappers! The 20s modernized fashion. Out with corsets! In with short skirts and trousers! Fabrics were also changing and becoming more widely available— silk and wool were among the two most utilized fabrics and rayon was being introduced to consumers for the first time. The “Boyish Figure” was quite popular throughout the 20s (which really only worked for flat-chested girls and waifs though right?). Coco Chanel was one of the first women to wear trousers and cut her hair short at this time— she held the torch for modernizing women’s fashions around the globe. Sparkles and sequins were used to embellish gowns, and headbands and soft, curly hair were all the rage.

1930s The 30s were feminine and sleek. Think of metallic lame (invented in this time) and slinky silky fabrics, draped over womanly figures, taking center stage throughout this time. People liked to go out dancing and to listen to big band music. Dresses and gowns were cut on the bias (inspired by Vionnet), creating a super-sexy appeal. Parisian couturiers had a large influence on this gamine look, designers like Elsa Schiaparelli were especially inspired by costumes from film during this time, as well as their surrealist contemporaries like Man Ray, Salvador Dali and Marcel Duchamp. Hair was worn in soft perms and many women wore hats.

1940s 1940 was the year nylon stockings were invented, which completely changed women’s lives (until they were taken away to make parachutes for the war, which later caused riots when they were available again in shops!). Life during wartime is difficult, and the silhouette from this era was sharp and low-key— with broad, padded shoulders, knee length skirts, simply cut blouses and low heels. Many women had to look to men’s clothing to alter for themselves. Thus came the Eisenhower jacket, which was a men’s coat, altered at the shoulders and side seams and tightly belted at the waist. Because Americans couldn’t import European fashions at this time, Americans began looking to their compatriots for their wardrobes. Pompadour hairstyles were very popular, and many women wore pearls.

1950s America created the picture perfect (and perky chested) image of domesticity in magazine and television ad campaigns. Waists were high and nipped, skirts were full and made from yards of fabric. Dior’s “New Look” of rounded, soft shoulders and spiked heels took the world by storm. Coco Chanel, who made a comeback after WWII, invented the Chanel Suit (which is still being walked down the Paris runways each season) in 1954. Figures like Jackie-O who donned the look so well, inspired many women to dress in this fashion. Long, tightly fitted pants were also in the picture, as well as long jumpers, floral fabrics, fitted tops, white blouses, and of course— stilettos.

Which is your favorite era?

Try these patterns to recreate your own look: 1. Channel the 20s in a one shoulder dress made from a slinky metallic knit 2. Go for glamour and try this 30s inspired ruched waist dress 3. Relive the 40s in a cropped jacket and a sleek pencil skirt 4. Look like you’re straight out of the 50s in this fitted bustier top and go all Mad Men by pairing it with voluminous A-line skirt.


  • Photo_on_2010-12-12_at_21_10_2edit_large

    Mar 2, 2011, 05.30 PMby Reese Juel

    Hands down the 20’s and 30’s! Bring back the drama!

    2 Replies
    • 09-513166_large

      Mar 3, 2011, 04.15 AMby clownvomit

      I agree! The late 20s and early 30s had some remarkably stunning styles. My absolute favorites!

    • Missing

      May 25, 2011, 05.19 PMby lolaaa

      me tooo!!

  • Cali_large

    Mar 2, 2011, 04.03 PMby threadsquare

    J’adore the 20s & 30s, though the 40s probably look best on me. Save for the hair. Louise Brooks’ hair suits me :) The 50s are fun to look at, but just a bit too sweet for my taste, and while the voluminous skirts work with my curves, I also find all that fabric weighs me down.

  • Img_4404_large

    Mar 2, 2011, 09.46 AMby nikotina

    Must be the 20’s and the 30’s, great times for women and awesome fashion personally i hate the 50’s, back to submissive and crippled, not something to cherish.

    3 Replies
    • Clayje_large

      Mar 2, 2011, 05.48 PMby Jane Smith

      I’m a little offended by your remarks about the fifties.

    • Img_4404_large

      Mar 3, 2011, 09.49 AMby nikotina

      Are you serious ? How can you be offended by the name of a decade ?

    • Missing

      May 25, 2011, 05.23 PMby lolaaa

      me too!! 50s is not good any more wa are in he 2012s i loves 30s and 40s and the new very nice very very very nice fashions od 2012

  • 100508_210015_large

    Mar 2, 2011, 08.40 AMby Ladybird45

    30`s or 40`s, the dresses are simple and so feminine. No need to be a model to look awesome in them. Curvy women go ahead!! yay!!! :)

    1 Reply
    • Missing

      May 25, 2011, 05.22 PMby lolaaa

      i agree with yuo my friend

  • 100508_210015_large

    Mar 2, 2011, 08.40 AMby Ladybird45

    30`s or 40`s, the dresses are simple and so feminine. No need to be a model to look awesome in them. Curvy women go ahead!! yay!!! :)

  • 32990z_large

    Mar 2, 2011, 07.53 AMby mabrouk

    j’aime beaucoup le style classique

    1 Reply
    • Missing

      May 25, 2011, 05.24 PMby lolaaa


  • Skull_large

    Mar 2, 2011, 07.47 AMby leonx

    a hundred percent sure i love the 30s dress,thats kinda weird becouse now you see them a lot,awesome

  • Missing

    Mar 2, 2011, 04.37 AMby Anita Merrill

    I adore the 50’s silhouette, it’s called the “I Love Lucy” look at our house.

  • Missing

    Mar 2, 2011, 03.01 AMby John Linney

    I have to vote for the 1940’s style clothes, they make a lady, look like a lady!! John L.

    2 Replies
    • D7eae96cceb64cb79af8eedd0e373175f33cb968_large

      Mar 2, 2011, 10.31 AMby freaky-philomeen

      I first thought this was a John Lennon quote LOL.

    • Missing

      May 25, 2011, 05.26 PMby lolaaa

      i agree

  • 82dd01fc275b4a587482045b0190fe093d5babea_large

    Mar 2, 2011, 02.14 AMby uglybeat

    Love the 50’s, but I am the biggest fan of the 60’s since I’m kinda flat-chested and I love psychedelic and mod prints. I would love to sew more 50’s dresses from my vintage pattern stash, but they take so much dang fabric!!

  • 10135_large

    Mar 2, 2011, 01.35 AMby missjessica-1

    The 50s has my heart, but I love the pictures you posted for 30s and 40s styles – I’ll definitely have to explore those eras more. Twenties style is gorgeous, but I could never pull it off.

  • P1090134_large

    Mar 2, 2011, 01.35 AMby sewpretty

    30s, 40s and 50s! I love them all – but I guess the 40s is probably my favourite, followed closely by early 50s. I do hope that Burda posts some patterns reminiscent of these eras, especially since so many people posted about them :) The restyled 40s and 50s looks are so beautiful and feminine! Can’t wait to make some pieces inspired by them!

  • Missing

    Mar 2, 2011, 12.59 AMby bandchicky314

    Love the 30s 40s and 50s!!!

  • My_patterns_003_large

    Mar 2, 2011, 12.00 AMby lullith74

    I like the 40’s but I am all about the 30’s for dress and hairstyles. The bulk of my vintage patterns are from the 1930’s also.

  • Missing

    Mar 1, 2011, 11.00 PMby Yank

    I adore the hair style from the 30s and 40s but the 50s a-lined skirt is my favorite! A lot of fun and alluring fabric out there that would give any 50s dress a new look!

  • Us_large

    Mar 1, 2011, 10.56 PMby Katie Cautela

    I love them all. Every era of clothing. What I think I would choose although it is hard, would be the 50’s era.

  • Missing

    Mar 1, 2011, 10.07 PMby mommytoava

    I adore the luxurious glamour of the 30’s (silk, chiffon, and furs). My body on the other hand is more suited to the 40’s hourglass silhouette after having had children. I first fell in love with the 60’s as a young teenager and still have many vintage pieces from then, but I don’t ever feel as “grown up” in those A-lines and babydolls as I do in a fitted silhouette from earlier decades.

    1 Reply
    • Dahlnyc_1352392376_600_large

      Mar 1, 2011, 11.04 PMby alisondahl

      I had no idea how many people loved the 30s and 40s! We’ll have to pull from those decades for inspiration more often.

  • Missing

    Mar 1, 2011, 09.05 PMby keiiek

    The 30’s and 40’s are definitely where it’s at for me—those silhouettes, colours and styles are so gorgeously feminine and attractive!

  • Missing

    Mar 1, 2011, 08.40 PMby gaiaaurelia

    I have always adored the 40’s and 50’s because it was a simple feminine look. My wedding was a 1940’s era wedding and it was so fun to see everyone dressed to the nines in there interpretation of 40’s style clothing. Thank you so much for posting this!

  • Molly_in_alaska_large

    Mar 1, 2011, 08.33 PMby MSage

    This is fun! I love the 30’s look…and still love to dance to the big band sounds. But, since my waistline isn’t quite what it used to be, I have to adjust a bit. My husband loves the 30’s look too….finds it so feminine.

  • 2015_bij_lloyd_large

    Mar 1, 2011, 08.19 PMby olg

    Great presentation and inspiration! Thanks BurdaStyle

  • 12038170_10206706368195521_4197884461146699999_n_large

    Mar 1, 2011, 08.14 PMby Rachel Parish

    i definitely respond best to the 20s. i have the boyish/ruler figure that the 20s silhouette is all about. i even did a 40 minute project on the fashion of the 20s for a history of costume project =)

  • Ea2edb6a404bcc432ab73c6c058d91e982ef9e48_large

    Mar 1, 2011, 07.12 PMby erdronen

    I absolutely LOVE the silhouettes of the 30’s. The gowns were gorgeous. I especially love that navy dress you picked! Beautiful (and modern!) interpretation of the era. I’ve never been a fan of the dropped-waist 20’s style. I also love the “swing” style of the 40’s along with the nipped waists of the 50’s.

  • Avatar3_large

    Mar 1, 2011, 05.36 PMby carottesauvage

    I love the 1920s and the Androgenious look: everything that flatters flat chests, basically. Not fond of the domestic goddess/cupcake sweetness look… However, the 1950s wrapped blouse (Dior?) posted above is amazing. Thinking of replicating this. I would wear this type of blouse with wide slacks any day. Crossovers between eras is the advantage of the times we live in.

  • B2516767d8e537cbb87e9deb3b8230f70ec4802b_large

    Mar 1, 2011, 05.28 PMby Shalyn McFaul

    Growing up, I loved and copied 40’s fashion all of the time, but now I think I have turned into a 50’ girl all the way.

    • This is a question
  1. Sign in to add a post


  • Editors' Pick
  • Pattern Collections
  • BurdaStyle Academy
  • Burda Challenge
  • Backstage Report
  • Fashion & Trends
  • DIY to Try
  • Tips & Techniques
  • Member Highlights
  • Sewing Projects
  • Outta Town
  • Contests & Competitions
  • Archive
  • Guest Columns
  • Videos
  • Meg's Magazine Mash Up
  • As Seen In
  • Podcast
  • Holiday