20’s Fashion Highlight: The Famed "Flapper"

The Roaring Twenties (also known as the Wonderful Era of Nonsense) is known in fashion history as a highly significant period. A lot of today’s modern vintage clothing is inspired by the grandeur and flamboyance of 1920’s accessories and ensembles, which often featured feathers, hats, beads, and sequins. Once these elements were combined, mixed or matched, liberated young women were able to achieve a flirty, fun and sensual look.

Besides fashion, the early twentieth century is widely acknowledged as a decade of important developments in the female empowerment movement. During this period, influential countries such as Great Britain, Norway, Australia, and the United States finally legalized the female vote. At the same time, women were starting to question the gender norm status quo, opting instead to work and support themselves along with their male counterparts. Technologically speaking, the automobile had recently been introduced to the market, meaning that women, too, were eager to drive and go on about their lives independently. Movies at the cinema were also very popular among youths, as was the case with jazz music, speakeasies, at house parties. What better moment to let loose a little and join in the luxurious, opulent fray?



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The young women who participated in these social events came to be known as the famous flappers of the Roaring Twenties. The term is derived from the characteristic “flappy” oxford shoes worn by ladies during the start of the twenties. As the decade developed, the United States and Great Britain coined the term to describe a new female archetype: a sexy, empowered, self-made woman that enjoyed parties and literally any opportunity to dance, drink and socialize. The flapper chick was known for her liberality when it came to her clothing choices. As opposed to previous conservative fashion, flappers often flashed bare arms and legs. The flapper physique, on the other hand, was famous for its slim build, narrow hips and small bust. To achieve the ultimate flapper look, young ladies styled their hair into short, curly bobs, powdered their faces, put on some bright lipstick and eyeshadow, and accessorized their outfit with elegant gloves, over-the-top beads, pearl necklaces, sequined headbands, and feather boas.



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The centerpiece of the typical flapper girl was, as a matter of fact, the flapper dress: a sequined, loose knee-length number that was often adorned with multiple rows of beaded fringes and equally shimmering appliques. The first iteration of the famous flapper dress was popularized by French designer Coco Chanel, the designer behind the little black dress classic. Although relatively simple in comparison with the extravagant flapper dress, this staple piece established the framework for its creation. And so it came to be that Chanel’s little black dress contributed the ease and comfort, knee-length, and neutral tones that soon after became the key elements for the original flapper ensembles.

Vintage flapper dresses have played a role in inspiring the creation of beaded modern-day evening dresses and wedding gowns. Just take a look at stores everywhere that include fringy, beaded outfits and accessories on their catalogs. Famous retailers such as Sherri Hill, Marchesa and David’s Bridal are known for incorporating flapper-inspired accents to their designs.

 On the other hand, flappers have become a timeless costume theme for women everywhere. For this reason, it’s not uncommon to come across flapper wigs, dresses and accessories on your local costume stores during the Halloween season. For those of you that are into vintage fashion per se, there is a wide variety of online vintage stores that sell designer flapper brands-most of which can be discovered through Instagram with a simple #flapperdress search. Some of my favorites include Bellasoiree on Etsy, Gatsbylady, Retro-stage, and the Len.T.Juela store.

If you’re on a budget, or you wish to get creative, there’s always the option of sewing and styling your very own flapper dress. Women in the 1920s that didn’t have the money to purchase couture party dresses made their dresses or had a close friend or relative customize it for them for an affordable price. If you enjoy sewing but don’t know which pattern to purchase to get started, you can always buy a pattern for a simple and cheap project that includes three different flapper dress styles.



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To style your DIY flapper dress, you can stack as many golden or silver necklaces as you want. You can also add faux feathers to your elastic sequin headband for a more vintage look. If you’re looking to achieve a modern rendition of the classic flapper attire, you can accentuate your waist with any chic metallic belt and use a beaded microbag for added elegance. For a more casual look, you can adorn your beaded flapper blouse (or any loose-fitting blouse, for that matter) with a velvet fringed kimono.



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