Thanks to this well-covered counter-culture music festival, blue jeans became something that everyone wore. They were no longer the clothing of workers on the job, or rebels advertising their disdain for society. The next year jeans appeared on fashion runways. They began being seen on the street as everyday wear.
As an example of the festival’s importance, the year after Woodstock, Levi’s ran an advertisement the next which simply showed a picture of the crowd at the festival.
After the stock market crash in 1929, American department stores had a conundrum. How could they sell fashion and stay in business in a country that was experiencing such a severe economic depression? There were various answers to that question. Some stores went high-end, trying to tempt women with the most glamorous and expensive looking clothes. Other stores went bargain basement, selling as cheap as possible. Neither approach worked very well.
In 1932 Lord and Taylor, led by Dorothy Shaver, tried something different: promoting American fashion designers <b>as</b> American fashion designers. Until then, French fashion was dominant, and everyone worked for French fashion houses or copied their products. But under Shaver’s direction, American fashion became desirable for being American. Between 1932 and 1939, Shaver’s presentations featured the practical sportswear creations of more than sixty designers. These designers espoused a new “American Look” which was made up of interchangeable separates, in simple designs, which could look good at multiple types of events.
This was revolutionary. Today, it is hard to grasp how much of a jump this was, but before the American Look, fashion was about selling women complete looks (usually a dress, perhaps with a matching jacket) which could be worn at specific types of events. It was assumed chic women would change at least twice a day, so their outfits could match their activities, and that whatever they were doing their dress would not get dirty or sweaty. The American Look did away with that.
The American lady at top is from 1935. Notice how her jacket and printed silk top are separates, able to be mixed and matched.