Jazz-Age WEDDING DRESS, 1924 – Fashionable High Skirts and Sleeveless Blouses were Believed Risqué.

Bridal Party Dresses, 1924. Charles Gates Dawes House, Evanston, Illinois. 10/2015 500 kb

On Saturday, June 7, 1924, Ruth M. Anderson was married in this sleeveless wedding dress (left) to William Noling in Evanston, Illinois. The dress is now on display in the Charles Gates Dawes House in Evanston. Dawes was Vice President of the United States from 1925 to 1929 under President Calvin Coolidge.

The Noling-Anderson wedding was held in the house of the bride and her parents, Isak and Jennie (née Johnson) Anderson, at 1035 Ridge Avenue in Evanston. Built in 1914, the house still stands as it did 100 years ago.

The dress is made of silk satin in an egg shell color. It is accented by an oval medallion with bands also made of silk satin. The medallion is embroidered with faux pearl and other glass beads.

While the wedding dress was very fashionable for the mid1920’s – sleeveless tops of all shapes and sizes were the rage in 1924 – it probably was not allowed in one of Evanston’s houses of worship. The fact that it was sleeveless and au courant would be deemed by many as risqué for showing too much bare skin inspired by a thoroughly modern flapper style. It was only in 1924, for instance, that the Methodist Episcopal General Conference first lifted its ban on going to the theater as well as dancing though dance music was the radio’s most popular programming.

The bridesmaid dress (right) was the height of women’s style in 1924 – a mainly straight, knee-length skirt gathered slightly or cut with front pleats. Short sleeve and sleeveless tops were the rage in 1924 reflected in Hollywood by the Mack Sennett girls who starred in movies where they pranced on the beach in a chorus line in not much more than bathing caps and short swim suits.

The fashionable bride and her court likely sported the latest style of facial make-up which is hinted at in the 2015 display– masklike with garish, even orange, lipstick and heavy red rouge on the cheeks. Popular fashion accessories from 1924 are also evident – pearls knotted at the neck and simple, though elegant, arm bracelets.

The bride’s father, Isak Anderson, was born in Sweden and came to the United States at 20 years old in 1890. In 1891 he married Jennie Johnson and they had Ruth and another child. Ruth’s father was a bank director and partner in a local tailoring business in downtown Evanston at 608 Davis that today is a noodle shop.  

With Prohibition starting in 1920, guests at the wedding may have been served the latest popular highball whose recipe called for fruit juice and raw eggs. Their morning could have started with a bowl of Wheaties at breakfast, since the cereal of champions made its first appearance in 1924.

Ruth Anderson married William Noling in this house in Evanston, Illinois, in June 1924. Fair Use.

SOURCES: Dawes House, Evanston Illinois; The Swedish Element in Illinois: Survey of the Past Seven Decades, Ernst Wilhelm Olson, p. 586; American Chronicle, Lois Gordon & Alan Gordon, Yale University Press, New Haven & London,1999, pp. 230-238; Chicago: The Glamour Years (1919-1941), Thomas G. Aylesworth & Virginia Aylesworth, Gallery Books, NY, 1986, p.14.

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