20’s Leisure

Leisure activities of the 1920s

Radio was a very popular and new medium during the 1920s, as were both cinema and jazz. These all helped to create a ‘modern’ look and the androgynous nature of the ‘bright young things’ of the decade, meant cross-dressing became prevalent in certain quarters, and fancy dress parties amongst the social elite were regular events.

Sports and other leisure activities were also popular. The modern day Olympics had been revitalised in Greece in 1896 and took place in London in 1908.  During the 1920s three Olympic games took place (Antwerp – 1920, Paris – 1924 & Amsterdam – 1928) and for the first time women were allowed to compete.  Popular sports and pastimes during the era included boating, cycling, driving, football, golf, greyhound racing, rowing, skating, sun-bathing, swimming, tennis & treasure hunts.

Babe Ruth (George Herman Ruth Jnr) – Known as the greatest American Baseball Player of all-time.  His Major League career started with the Boston Red Sox who eventually sold him to the New York Yankees. His 1927 home run record of 60 stood until 1961 and when he died aged 53, he lay in state at Yankee Stadium and 100,000 fans paid their respects.  There are a number of outlets offering baseball player outfits to the market – problem is, many of them are for females! It is also possible that many in the UK may never have heard of Babe Ruth.

Boating Outfit – ‘Messing about on the water’ was a popular pastime in the 1920s. The Edwardian passion for stripes was revisited in the 1920s. The brightly coloured striped jacket or blazer, oxford bags (wide baggy trousers) and straw boater are synonymous with some of the daywear of the 1920s.

Flying OutfitIn an era of daring deeds, Charles Lindburgh was the first aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic New York to Paris on May 20-21 1927. He did this in a monoplane – ‘The Spirit of St Louis’ and his achievement won him the $25,000 Orteig Prize, which had been on offer since 1919. He had a dance ‘The Lindy Hop’ named after him.

‘Proper’ flying jackets can be difficult to obtain, but there are some passable replicas, and helmet and goggles are available, including the Biggles-style Helmet from us here at Props & Frocks. Trousers can be in the broad baggy style.

Golfer - Plus-fours, knitted slipover and jacket were worn by men not only on the golf course but also informal daywear. Women wore long skirts with their outfits, as trousers were still perceived as being worn by men only.

SwimwearWith the increased emancipation of women, the era of the bathing machine and separate beaches tended to die out during the 1920s, so that women were seen more openly at the seaside. Despite the daring fashions on display elsewhere, during the early 20s, swimwear remained much the same as for the Victorian era. Women wore one or sometimes two-piece outfits, which covered the upper arms and legs, whilst men’s costumes evolved into a tank-top style design with shorts. Props & Frocks has a great range of 1920s Swimwear to hire

Tennis StarAlthough tennis had been played for a good many years, the 1920s saw the establishment of the ‘professional’ tour. Exhibition matches were played by early professional players such as Vinnie Richards and Suzanne Lenglen. The latter won Wimbledon eight times and was seen as a radical as she wore a short skirt and no hat at Wimbledon as early as 1922. The norm had been for women to wear long skirts and hats, whilst males wore long trousers.

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