Thursday, February 13, 2020

Future Clothing Styles From the 1930s

What might The World of the Future be like? For instance, what sorts of clothing will people wear?

That great philosopher and New York Yankees catcher Yogi Berra has been cited as saying something like "Predicting is difficult, especially about the future." This post presents some World of the Future costumes, mostly from movies from the 1930s. At the time, the influence of Modernism was in full flow with streamlining and simplicity as ideals. Even so, only one film of the batch in Gallery below went super-modernist where costuming was concerned.

Below are images from the following: "Metropolis" (1927), link here; Buck Rogers comic strip (started early 1929) and 1939 movie serial, link here; "Just Imagine" (1930), link here; Flash Gordon serial (1936), link here; and "Things to Come" (1936), link here.

Gallery

Metropolis (1927)
Not a 1930s movie, but both near enough and a very early science-fiction epic.  Above is a scene at the office of the father of the hero. Clothing is not far from current fashions, though proportions are slightly distorted.

Metropolis (1927)
The hero is wearing a shirt and necktie along with sort of puffy riding britches, whereas the lady's clothes are skimpy.

Metropolis (1927)
On the other hand, the heroine is dressed modestly; her skirt (not seen here) is long, unlike 1920s flapper fashion.

Buck Rogers (comic strip started 1929)
Promotional drawing by comic strip artist Dick Calkins. Buck and Wilma Deering are wearing futuristic variations of 1930-vintage pilot helmets. Like the Metropolis hero, Buck is wearing jodhpur pants, but in the 1930 military style. Wilma wears tights and a form-fitting top. Strapped on their backs are flying belts.

Just Imagine (1930)
Here the hero is on Mars confronting the queen. His outfit has a military appearance thanks to the large belt and side pouch. The featureless bib on his chest seems vaguely military, but lacks functionality. This was how men in 1980 might dress according to the costume designers.

Things to Come (1936)
A British film extrapolated by H.G. Wells from his book "The Shape of Things to Come." It did correctly predict that England would be at war in 1940. The scene above is set farther into the future when a technocracy prevails. The costumes strike me as being inspired by Roman military outfits supplemented by those odd pieces that exaggerate shoulder widths. All very 1930s futuristic, but only for fit folks under 40 years of age. Makes me wonder how ordinary, dumpy folks were clothed.

Flash Gordon serial (1936)
Flash was not a character of the future, but rather a Yale graduate transported to the planet Mongo. Nevertheless, the setting was futuristic in spirit. The costumes were based on those depicted in Alex Raymond's comic strip.

Buck Rogers serial (1939)
Buck's adventures took place 500 years in the future -- the 2430s. The costumes designed for the serial strike me as being a bit more removed from those in the comic strip than the Flash Gordon outfits. They do seem pretty functional and not overly contrived. However, all the characters seen here are wearing variations of 1930s airplane pilot helmets.

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