The typical outward appearance of Germany in the 1920s can be summarised essentially in the word modernity. This was most obvious in the cities that had been growing continuously in the years after the turn of the century. Halle (Saale) for instance, had 100,000 inhabitants in 1890. In 1905, it had 169,000 and in 1927, for the first time, the mark of 200,000 was surpassed, of people who felt at home in the big city and who created a new class of urban, working citizens: the workers. A considerable proportion of these were women who had, in recent decades, won their right to higher education: In 1892, the right to finish school, in 1900 the right to enrol at university, in 1919 the right to vote and in 1920, the right to habilitate.
Forced into an initially unfamiliar independence by the circumstances of the First World War, they learned to hold their ground in the formerly male-dominated domains of their public and professional lives. As working people, they had conquered hitherto unknown personal freedom in leisure activities, at least in the cities.
Women did sports, went to the cinema and met with friends in restaurants and bars, where they would smoke, drink and dance the Foxtrot, Tango or Charleston. In keeping with this new, independent self-image, the modern woman in Halle too dressed consciously fashionably and practically. She would do her shopping confidently in the department stores around the Marktplatz and along Leipziger Straße.
A striking new development were the hairstyles: For the first time, women wore short hair, in a pageboy haircut or a bob, or the Eton-haircut, which was even shorter. These hairstyles went well with small, tight-fitting hats. The German women modelled themselves on the fashion of the Paris Haute Couture, especially of Coco Chanel. The little black dress, a simple black dress that can be worn on almost any occasion with a variety of accessories, such as jewellery, handbag, make-up pouch and cigarette holder, has been a must-have in every woman’s wardrobe ever since.