Fashions during the Model A Years--(1928-1931)

There are so many tips available about 'how to get the era fashion look', hemlines, waistlines, fabrics, etc. that we're only going to begin to touch the surface of the subject..and share research guidelines.  Step through the Model A Seasons, below, to see representative fashions.

In general, the biggest difference in women's dresses from 1928-1931 was the "moving" waistline. In 1928 and 1929 the waist was at the widest part of the hipline. When the 1929 Fall/Winter catalogs came out the waistline had moved to the top of the hips or a little bit above. Paris fashions of 1929 showed a natural waistline, but we were more conservative here in America, and we were about to enter the Depression.

A spring 1930 catalog showed the new waistline halfway between the hipline and the natural waist. By the end of
1930 the natural waistline was shown. In 1931 the skirt of the dress was attached to the bodice at the natural
waistline and belted. In 1928-1929 most hems were uneven but in 1930-1931 the hemline was straight except for
some evening wear.

An easy way to remember:  before the 1929 Depression the waistlines were low and hems short; after the Depression the waistlines were higher and hems longer.


The months of June, July and August presented a variety of attire for all kinds of outdoor activities.   Below, active sportswear options for the equestrian, swimmer, tennis player, golfer, and sandbox crowd.

In the summer composite picture above, from top left:  More formal outfits were worn by men and women for riding and equestrian competition, usually with spurs and crops. (see picture in bottom row, too)  The July 1929 cover of "Woman's World"  shows bathing suits for all members of the family. Active sportswear was designed for comfort and ease of movement such as the tennis outfit shown next.  Women's'skirts had deeper pleats.  Close fitting hats or head bands were worn.  And then there's Marvin, who has money, charm and good looks but is also dateless and friendless.  Part of a 1929 Listerine ad, the copy makes for interesting reading.  Click on Marvin's name (in bold, above) to do so.

Most often men played golf in knickers with shirts, ties and long sleeved or sleeveless sweaters.  School girls' outfits were often pleated skirts and middy blouses, while younger children wore sunsuits, rompters and overalls.  The gingham sun suit in the top row has a matching hat. Practical materials were used such as cotton and pongee broadcloth.  Here, the line between active sports clothes and observer sports clothes was finely drawn...strenuous games were not played in clothes meant to be worn on the sidelines!


The months of September, October and November brought folks back to school and indoors.  Women everywhere were dressing in the most current designs, and changing their wardrobe with each fashion season.  When it was time to leave the house, the dress was changed..hats and gloves were added (a lady wouldn't be seen without these items!)












                           In the fall composite:  From top left, a classic camel hair coat and a 3/4 length coat with dolman sleeves, both 1931.  Readying the tree for the holidays, one lady wears a sleeveless dress with white fur collar; the other, a formal gown with full heavy bows--both 1931.  Next, 1930, a short jacket with a smart border print; a dress with cape effect. a swagger cut coat and pleated skirt; a dress with surplice treated bodice and lower border of plain flat crepe.   On the bottom row, we see school girl fashions for fall 1931, then an October 1930 magazine cover.   Men's wool overcoats complete the array of fall styles.


The months of December, January, and February brought (to much of our country) cold weather.  There were holidays with glamorous parties, then valentines and the Easter Bunny, too.  In the early 1930s, the inclusion of slacks or "gob outfits", as they were called, anticipated the oncoming popularity of long pants for women. The Depression and changing times were forging new fashions. Women's fashions reflected a subtle somberness.  Patterns for the homemaker to sew were numerous.

In the winter composite: From top L, a December 1929 "Photoplay" cover; late autumn styles for young girls; an assortment of stylish and elegant neckpieces.  (The opposite site of the fur was lined with matching silk crepe.  Wool batting could be added for very slight padding).  The valentine was featured on the February 1928 cover of "Pictorial Review"; the new 'fall and winter fashions' on the cover of October 1929's "Woman's World".  The 'Diagonal Woolens for Your Winter Frocks' reflected the tailoring, popular in December 1931 and featured in the "Ladies' Home Journal".  The gentleman's formal evening wear consists of a tailcoat worn with a white, single breasted waistcoat, a plain white linen shirt with a stiff front, a wing collar and a white cotton or linen bow tie.  Pumps are black patent leather, socks are plain silk, a dull silk opera hat and the gloves are white kid.  The elegant ladies are ready for a gala evening and are also featured in the "Ladies Home Journal", December 1931.  MunsingWear's advertisement in the same magazine showed the trend to explose the shape of the body, and these undergarments were made to do this.  It seems the freedom women gained with the right to vote was extending to their lingerie!!


The months of March, April, and May brought us back outside for that 'breath of fresh air'.  Often, weddings were on the menu for June, and we show you wedding finery for each of the Model A Years.  These come from the publication 'A Book of Fashion Facts', available from MAFCA.  Magazine covers reflect the times.


In the spring composite:  From top L, the 1928 bride wears a satin and tulle wedding dress with a surplice neckline.  The train extends beyond the hem of the short dress.  Tulle is fitted by darts to form a cap, and more is used for the veil.  The wedding party in 1929 is ready--the flower girl wears a short dress of taffeta; the maid of honor wears a chiffon dress with an uneven scalloped hemline; the bride is attired in a smooth satin ivory gown with a short gathered at the hip, and a gathered tier of tulle shorter in the front, longer in the back.  Her veil is of tulle.  The groom in his tails and striped trousers complete this picture.  In 1930, three bridesmaids are pictured.  The left dress features short puffed sleeves; the center, a lace capelet in a contrasting color and a high tied sash.  On the right, the gown has three tiers of ruffles and soft, fluttery sleeves.  The 1931 formal wedding shows the bride dressed in classic ivory satin. She wears a lace cap from which falls a mist of net and a single strand of pearls.  The groom, dressed in tails, wears a white double-breasted waistcoat and a stand=up collar on the shirt, wing tips, an ascot, opera hat and kid gloves.  Bottom Row:  In April, 1929, the two ladies appear to be ready for a flight; center, 1931 spring millinery styles and the tennis player on the cover of the American magazine in May 1931 shows the proper attire for that sport.


An AMA member shares: 

Looking for special Model A fashions?   The Trouvails Vintage Collection has Clothing from 1920’s-1990 for sale or rental. Gowns, Dresses, Suits Designer Scarves, Hats Gold Cup, Jewelry, Costumes, Theater Wardrobe, Vintage purses and fancy furs, stunning men’s attire, shoes, boots, luggage, home décor and more……..

 Contact: Jeanne Blackwell, 540-207-3847, -- also more info on Facebook.  Jeanne makes her home in Virginia.