The Roaring Twenties was an iconic period in modern history. It wasn’t all about bootlegged alcohol and fashionable women – this decade was accompanied by incredible cultural strides that helped shape the way that we lived today. While there is a certain nostalgic Gatsby-eque glitz and glamor surrounding the 1920s, this decade was also a time of incredible social change.
During the 1920s, the sale and distribution of alcohol was illegal in the United States. While in some ways this curbed the amount alcohol consumed nationwide, it also backfired and lead to an increase of organized crime. Bootleggers and speakeasies became iconic features during the 1920’s, as society sought ways to skirt this unpopular law.
The 1920’s is dubbed the “Jazz Age” because during this decade, music from New Orleans and other Southern cities rose to popularity nationwide. Not only did this music influence how people danced and how they dressed, it also was the start of a major societal change. Jazz was revolutionary and controversial at the time partly because it was popularized by African American musicians, whose music and culture was now widely celebrated.
While the automobile was first invented at the beginning of the 20th century, its popularity roared to life in the 1920s. Early cars like the Model T were originally considered utilitarian machines. However, during the ‘20s there was a distinct demand for a vehicles that were more sleek and sophisticated. The result were iconic Speedsters and Roadsters, which turned cars into an indicator of status and style.
The 1920s were remarkable in the way that they changed how women were regarded in society. Suffragettes of the 1910s helped give women the right to vote in 1920, which finally allowed women to have a say in both politics and society. The number of women who worked outside of the home also increased by nearly 25% during this decade. For the first time in history, women were coming into their own and earning respect and recognition within society.
The aforementioned changes also were also accompanied by changes in the way that people dressed. The “flapper” was an iconic figure during the 1920s, as it represented women coming into their own. While fashion during the Victorian era was incredibly modest, women during the 1920s shed these outdated ideals and wore short, shapeless dresses that allowed them to freely dance the Charleston and forever changed the face of women’s fashion.