The Way We WereMay 1, 2007 By: American Salon Staff American Salon
Retail was in its infancy in the 1930s, yet we saw fit to publish an article called "As You Sell So Shall You Reap," which is just as relevant today as it was when we printed it in 1935. The article concluded that department stores, drug stores and cosmetic specialty stores—hello, Sephora!—were walking off with merchandising business that was "rightfully a part of the beauty establishment." Salon owners were encouraged to build a foundation for "year-round merchandising business" and to remember that "one individual can give a limited amount of beauty services in one day but that same individual can sell an unlimited amount of merchandise at a profit to you."
"The style has interest from every angle and may be readily advanced for use by the budding celebrities of other cities," we wrote in June, 1935.
Celebrity hairstyles became a popular feature in our magazine during the 1930s, much as they are now. Legendary Hollywood hairdresser Perc Westmore, the son of an English wigmaker who began his career in Hollywood in 1921, created a plastic tiara coiffure for Bette Davis and asked us to publish the photos.
In September 1936 we reported that Columbia Pictures received the cooperation of The Coiffure Guild of New York, which created a modernized version of an ancient Tibetan coiffure to be worn by actress Jane Wyatt in Lost Horizon. Not only did we print photos of the Shangri-La style, but we also suggested that it offered a "splendid opportunity for hairdressers to capitalize on the trend and adapt the Guild style for their patrons." Not much has changed in 70 years except that today actresses like Reese Witherspoon are setting the trends.
Deirdre Clemente is pursuing a Ph.D. in history at Carnegie-Mellon University. She specializes in American cultural history and the interplay between fashion and social change. For more information on her work, visit her Web site, deirdreclemente.com.
Dressed for the Game
From Spalding and Speedo to Nike and Nautica, sportswear is an American tradition. But it wasn't until the 1930s that athletic clothing became an essential part of our everyday wardrobe.
Imagine a world without sweatpants, sports bras, hoodies or cross trainers. Seems unbearable? Maybe it was. Today, sportswear is an international phenomenon that rakes in billions of dollars and demands its own floor in department stores—and its own section in your closet.
While sportswear has been around since the turn of the 20th century, it wasn't until the 1930s that casual clothing became acceptable as everyday duds. Most historians consider the 1920s the Golden Age of Sports, as the decade saw millions of Americans participating in tennis, golf, baseball, running, swimming and other athletics. But after the game, one quickly changed out of these clothes and into street clothes. By the beginning of the 1930s, however, the line between clothes worn on and off the playing field had blurred significantly.