The Nickel and Dime Decade: American Popular Culture during the 1930s

By Gary Dean Best | Go to book overview

CHAPTER SEVEN Style and Life

FASHION AND INFORMALITY

Herbert Hoover's tall, stiff, detachable shirt collar had already, by inauguration day in 1933, become more suited for wear in England than in the United States. The transition from Hoover's uncomfortable collar to the soft shirt collar of Franklin Delano Roosevelt meant that the trend toward comfort and less formality in men's wear had finally reached the White House. Hoover's collar had become as thoroughly discarded as the former president himself.

The 1930s brought to fruition a trend that had begun at least a decade previous, away from what Newman Levy called "the Age of Discomfort" to the "Age of Comfort." "All the stiffness of apparel," he wrote, "has vanished, and with it much stiffness of manner." Levy wrote:

Frequently my father wore a silk hat and a cutaway coat downtown. Today that costume is reserved for afternoon weddings and Tammany Hall funerals. It is strange to recall that he used to address many of his fairly close friends, men whom he had known for years, as Mister. Among my friends the first-name habit is universal. The man who does not call you Jack, Tom, or Dick after a half hour's acquaintance is generally regarded as pompous and rather high-hat. All of this can be directly attributed of course to the current habit of wearing soft collars. With it has come a new juvenility of spirit. 1

One evidence of the new informality in dress was the beginning of topless bathing on New York beaches in 1936 by men. Some women,

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The Nickel and Dime Decade: American Popular Culture during the 1930s
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction ix
  • Chapter One - The Setting 1
  • Chapter Two - Fads and Crazes 19
  • Chapter Three - Comics and Popular Literature 39
  • Chapter Four - Newspapers and Radio 55
  • Chapter Five - Music, Movies, and the Arts 73
  • Chapter Six - Sports 91
  • Chapter Seven - Style and Life 107
  • Chapter Eight- Coping 123
  • Conclusion 139
  • Notes 143
  • Bibliography 157
  • Index 163
  • About the Author 169
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