Working Lives

Beryl Riley 1920s to 30s (part 3)

Beryl Riley from Bethnal Green in East London started work as a cleaner at John Lewis in 1923

The Swinging Twenties

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The ideal silhouette (body shape) for fashionable women in the early 1920s was long and straight. The bust was flattened, the natural waist ignored, and the belt lowered to the hip. The 1920s brassiere flattened the bust in order to create the boyish figure that was so fashionable at the time.

A 1920s illustration showing four fashionable ladies wearing a variety outfits stood in outhouse of a stately home John Lewis & Co ladies fashion (early 1920s)

Short, silk evening dresses were decorated with fancy glass beads and imitation pearls. Embroidery designs and hanging girdles were inspired by ancient Egypt. The discovery of Tutankhamen’s tomb in 1922 had a big influence on fashion. Sport, dancing, the rise of the automobile, and American films also left their mark on fashionable clothes.

Loose-fitting trousers that some fashionable women wore in the 1920s were known as beach or lounging pyjamas. Women’s hair was ‘bobbed’ (cut very short) in a boyish style and brimless hats were worn.


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