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The Vintage Vertigo Team ~ An Etsy Team Spirit Finalist

14 March 2014

Movements in Home Décor and Fashion - Part Four

Part Four: Depression and Post-War Era

The wave of hope brought forward by the art movements was greatly diminished by the worldwide economic downturn known as “The Great Depression.” The depression began in the US after the stock crash in 1929, which sent economic shock-waves throughout the world, lasted about a decade, and preceded the “War of all Wars.”

These tragic circumstances had a great influence on all aspects of society including fashion, design, and commerce. Out of necessity, this became a time of prudence and resourcefulness: fashions became modest and household items were practical. Everyone sought to conserve resources first out of need, and later as a way to contribute to the war effort. A perfect example of this era’s frugality can be seen in the abundance of girls’ dresses made out of feed sacks. The trend was fueled when manufacturers, realizing the housewives’ thriftiness, started producing sacks with small floral and other prints. (Photo Credit: Country Woman Magazine, girls wearing feed-sack dresses)

A popular household item of the depression, which also came indirectly from the food industry, was pressed colored glass later known as “Depression Glass.” Companies, such as Quaker Oats, began putting small pieces of glassware inside boxes of oats to increase sales. Depression glass came in many colors and patterns. Some popular colors were pink, blue, and green: 

           Pink Princess Plates                  Blue Federal Butter Dish                    Green Glass
             by The Sweet Basil                   by Treasures from Texas            by JP Country Market

The dismal world economy was a contributing factor to territorial wars that began in Europe and eventual involved over 100 countries. The USA entered the war in 1941 with the bombing of Pearl Harbor. After the war ended in 1945 the US occupied Japan until 1953. During this time, all items made in Japan for the US market were marked “Made in Occupied Japan.” The date-specific mark has made these items popular with collectors, and they are becoming increasingly difficult to find. See this Mt. Fuji Plate By Comforte as an example of these very affordable historic collectibles:

When the war ended, the mood of the nation quickly turned from depression to victory. Soldiers returned with strengthened love for home and family; and advanced manufacturing, developed during war-time, prompted new economic opportunity. We see this new outlook displayed in full color in magazine ads such as this one offered at Mamie Z Vintage.

The conservation of the last 15 years ends and makes way to color and light in both fashion and home décor: dark sturdy woods are replaced with painted woods and bright plastic; small flour-sack prints are replaced with large bold patterns; and drab brown, grey, and blues are replaced with white, gold, and the wildly popular pink! In this Post-War Era, the “American Dream” is renewed and promoted with unprecedented elegance in Hollywood. Movies focused on romance, adventure, and glam and Hollywood reached the height of its “Golden Age.” Going to the movies became more than a way to get war-news; it was a simple luxury and a venue to discover new trends. A most popular design trend, later named “Hollywood Regency,” begins to leave the sets of Hollywood and makes its way into “modern” homes.

These new trends influenced the Modern Movement, lasting into the 1960’s, which we shall explore next time!

This is fourth of a five part series on Design Styles written by Mary of FineRomance on Etsy.


Tanjla said...

I love this series, you make me feel that I am there. I understand the styles and the reason why they were developed.


thesweetbasil said...

This is incredibly informative as well as interesting. So very well written and I am so proud you included one of my vintage pieces.
Thank-you Mary!

Anonymous said...

This series is really nice! I'm enjoying seeing how the world situations and politics affect style!
Sherry Anonymous

barbara rusinek said...

LOVE LOVE LOVE this series. A very proud time in our nations history. Men and women of that ear will never be matched.

Rescued in Time, LLC said...

Great article and series - Love your information and great finds used to illustrate the different eras... love these trips back in time!

Melissa Brown said...

Great articles, so informative.

jp said...

Mary, you did a fabulous job on this series. You have brought forth the strength that made this nation so great.....none to ever be matched.

Thank you for showcasing my green depression glass vases as part of your series.

jp @jpcountrymarket

Denise CountryMini said...

I just love this series Mary!! I learn so much with each one! I especially enjoyed this particular one on the depression era.

Angela Spiess said...

Fantastic. I am learning so much. Thanks, Mary!