A controversy within gambling is the complex relation it has to social status. Gambling has surely taken its toll throughout history with the main events being the prohibition and bans in the 1930’s. However, not to forget is the apparent mafia involvement in the 1950’s.
Even though gambling has been around since mankind managed to verbally communicate his first bet we are going to focus on the casino culture in the last century. Suitably enough, this is also when the world of fashion has had its most rapid changes much due to the industrial revolution which kicked off in the 1920s. and in the gambling scene, there had no time for depression….
No Time for Depression
The high society in the 1930’s had no time for depression and gambling was everywhere – from the street corners among the poor to the grand halls of the socialites. According to historians the casinos were open to everyone, however since there was a strict dress code and a lot of money at stake it was only the socialites that visited the casinos. And evidently, the fashion scene evolved within the very same crowd.
The 1920’s fashion had featured slouchy boyish lines while the Golden Age of gambling in the 1930’s returned to shapely dresses. The female figure was celebrated again and even men got to wear sharper lines. This was much due to the Hollywood cinema-boom. The superhero silhouette of broad shoulders and a narrower waist became the style and we can only imagine the lavish sight at the casinos at the time. One can only imagine the young men and women fluttering their shapely silhouettes amongst the table games. Silhouettes which were inspired by iconic the Hollywood stars below: such as Ginger Rogers, Jean Harlow and Fred Astaire.
However, as said, there was the prevalence of scandals and the belief that the poor were being targeted by the gambling industry and this shamed the business of gambling. Still, the state of Nevada legalized gambling in 1931. While on the contrary – gambling was in fact connected to crime.
A profile at the time who was involved in the Las Vegas scene was the infamous American gangster Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel. Bugsy was described as handsome and charismatic despite his reputation of being the most feared gangster at the time. He gained iconic prestige and with such status comes influence. Which fashion is all about. Above, he is wearing the typical 1930’s Trillby hat that has become a classic statement piece seen on many men again and again throughout fashion history. The typical Trillby hat often ordain the main characters in mafia movies and so, in some way, it has come to be associated to suspicious business.