The most characteristic North American fashion trend from the 1930s to the end of World War II was attention at the shoulder, with butterfly sleeves and banjo sleeves, and exaggerated shoulder pads for both men and women by the 1940s. The period also saw the first widespread use of man-made fibres, especially rayon for dresses and viscose for linings and lingerie, and synthetic nylon stockings. The zipper became widely used. These essentially U.S. developments were echoed, in varying degrees, in Britain and Europe. Suntans (called at the time "sunburns") became fashionable in the early 1930s, along with travel to the resorts along the Mediterranean, in the Bahamas, and on the east coast of Florida where one could acquire a tan, leading to new categories of clothes: white dinner jackets for men and beach pajamas, halter tops, and bare midriffs for women.
Fashion trendsetters in the period included The Prince of Wales (Edward VIII from January 1936 until his abdication that December) and his companion Wallis Simpson (the Duke and Duchess of Windsor from their marriage in June 1937) and such Hollywood movie stars as Fred Astaire, Carole Lombard and Joan Crawford.
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“He wears his faith but as the fashion of his hat; it ever changes with the next block.”
—William Shakespeare (15641616)