The 1920s were a turning point in the world of fashion. During the decade, fashion became an increasingly important symbol of a person's social status. Advances in technology made Americans' focus on fashion possible. For the first time in history, Americans could hear the same radio broadcasts and watch the same movies. By 1925, about fifty million people listened to the radio and heard about the latest clothes, automobiles, and home decor. At the movies, people could see these products. Many Americans started buying what they heard about on the radio and saw at the movies. Moreover, newspapers and magazines like Vanity Fair and Vogue started printing columns and advertisements about fashion. A culture of fashion had begun.
The 1920s were marked by Americans' concern for style. The clothes they wore, the cars they drove, and the decorations in their homes gave them a particular social status, even if they were not born into that social position. The most distinctive looks of the decade were of flappers and sheiks. Flappers were generally young women who bobbed their hair (cut it short). They wore short, loose-fitting dresses and enhanced their faces with makeup. Sheiks were young men who slicked back their hair. They wore fashionable camel-hair jackets and loose, flannel pants, and long raccoon coats. No matter what particular clothes people wore or what negative names given to them for doing so, Americans in the 1920s used fashion to say something about who they were and what social group they belonged to, a habit that has not yet died.