When women became feisty and fashionable

  • Manoj Sharma, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
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  • Updated: Sep 01, 2011 12:09 IST

The 1930s saw Delhi women acquiring a whole new lifestyle. Upper-class women would keep themselves abreast of the latest trends in global fashion through magazines like Women & Home. A film Miss 1933—starring Miss Gohar and made in Bombay—had a deep impact on the sensibilities of young Indian women. They became more fashionable and feisty, much like the heroine of the film.

In the mid-1930s, many women started wearing sunglasses and carrying umbrellas, thanks to the film. It was not unusual to see women driving to CP alone for shopping. Many began wearing salwar-suits with high- heeled shoes.

Those who preferred Western clothes went to Madam Enid’s in CP to get their clothes stitched. Enid was a British woman who largely catered to the British, but she also had many anglicised Indian women as clients. By mid-1930s, women started wearing jewellery lighter in weight and more elegant. Hamilton & Company in Connaught place was the ‘it’ place for such jewellery for the city’s chic ladies. http://www.hindustantimes.com/images/HTPopups/260411/26_04_2c.jpg

In the 1930s, face powder, creams like Hazeline Snow, nail paints and kohl became popular. “Hazeline Snow was a rage among women those days. While British women wore it all the time, Indian women would wear it on special occasions. It brought shine to your face even during dull days,” says Pam Parmar, 71, a resident of Sujan Singh Park. By the 1940s, many women had taken to lip-colouring in a big way. However, most of these cosmetics were confined to married women.

Hair and there

New Delhi’s young men of the 1930s resembled its men today when it came to hairstyles—they too liked to imitate film actors. In the late 1930s, the anglicised young man of the city preferred hairstyles sported by Hollywood actors like Clarke Gable and Errol Flynn.

Roy & James, run by a Britisher and his Indian wife, was the place most headed to for trendy haircuts. While the front of the shop served as a hair-cutting saloon, the backside served as the ladies’ beauty parlour.    

The mid-1930s saw the advent of the safety razor. Many men started to shave by themselves, due to which the barber who often came home began to lose business.

While moustaches retained their hold, especially among Indians, their style kept changing. Some men liked them thick, others preferred to have them trimmed.


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