As I headed out to a Halloween party in my fringed and feathered flapper costume, I couldn’t help but notice that there were many more of us roaming the campus. None of us had the exact same costume, but they were similar enough. That got me thinking, “What is it about flappers that make them so attractive? Is it their cherry-red lips, short dresses, or piles of pearls?” It very well could be all three and much more.
For those of you who never learned about them in U.S. history, flappers marked the liberalization of women in the Roaring Twenties. Their knee-length dresses were scandalously short, they frequented speak-easies, and their sexuality became a more casual affair. Of course, not all women were flappers, and those who weren’t often criticized flappers for their lack of social boundaries. Regardless, men of this era loved the “new woman” that emerged from this movement.
My philosophy is that it’s the scandalousness of flapper culture that makes these costumes so appealing. By sporting the red or black dress hemmed with sequins and fringe, women are representing breaking the norms, something that many women dream of doing. There was a power complex to flappers: These women were newly able to vote and were otherwise accepted in society despite their shocking dress and behavior. They took full advantage of these steps toward gender equality.
I suppose dressing like a flapper gives us empowerment. Flappers could act like men (i.e., smoke, drink, and go to clubs), but look great at the same time. Isn’t that what many of us collegiettes™ want, too? Maybe we don’t want to act like men, per se, but we do want to show them that we’re equal—and way hotter.