How to Dress in 1920s Flapper Style

Do you want to look vintage chic or just stylishly old-fashioned? Do you want to create the vintage look from decades past?

One of the looks I love best is the roaring twenties style. This was a time when women wanted their bodies loose and free from the shackles of tight corsets, long and cumbersome skirts and dumped hats large enough to house a colony of birds.

Fashionable meant daring to raise hemlines, short hairdos, jewel-encrusted headpieces, and freer waistlines, with post-war spending inspiring a new kind of shopping therapy for women everywhere.

So, if you love fashion of the 1920s and will like to know how to dress like you sashayed out of the Great Gatsby movie, here are examples of what you can wear and how to wear them.

Hair Styles – A noticeable highpoint of the 1920s woman was demonstrated by the stark change in her hairstyle. Women were saying cheerio to long Victorian locks and welcomed much shorter and boyish hairdos. Popular styles that may interest you include the bob cut, shingle cut (a bob haircut with a tapered back) and the Eton crop.

The Flapper style is not complete without the right hairdo – short. But if you don’t want to cut your hair short (understandably), you can always opt for a short wig – the bob style or finger-curls are very 1920s.

Hats and Headpieces – Of all the classic hats of the roaring twenties, the cloche hat was the trendiest and was a very popular headpiece with its bell shape and side adornments which was anything from flowers to small feathers and geometric designs. Other hat styles include wrapped turbans, straw summer hats, and bucket hats.

To add a feminine touch to their ensemble, the wealthy 1920s woman had elaborate and expensive jewels worn as headpieces in their collections. However, you don’t have to buy bejewelled headpieces because you’ll find that many with faux stones will look equally glamorous on you plus you can even make your own.

1920s Vintage Headpieces

Clothes – By the twenties, fashion began to deviate from the more restricting clothing of the earlier years and gravitated towards simpler and more comfortable clothing like slip dresses, short skirts and trousers. Floral prints in soft pastel colours were adored and other popular colours were "Nile Green" "Sunset Orange" "French Blue" and "Maze".

Beaded dresses with fringed hems were for formal and evening wear. Other formal clothes styles of the 1920s were the sleeveless chemise gowns with elaborate beading and sequined works. Because dresses didn't hug a woman's body but instead hung loosely, sometimes with loose sleeves, its one vintage inspired style that will look good on all women, be they skinny or plus size.

Fashion of the 20s

Shoes – If you are looking for authentic vintage shoes, that’s probably a tall order because it is not easy to find a pair that’ll fit your feet. A good thing though is that vintage inspired shoes are all over the stores. You just need to know what to look out for. 1920s shoe styles include the T-Strap heeled shoes (or T-bar), Mary Jane, 20s oxford, and pumps. There were also tap shoes and dance shoes.

Shoe Styles of the 1920s

Sunglasses - The 1920s ushered in the use of tinted sunglasses to the fashion scene. Their styles were simple circle frames made of metal or tortoiseshell with colours ranging from dark grey to deep green. When the silver screen goddesses sunbathed in their movies, the trend soon caught on and finally, the public caught on to the convenience of shading your eyes from the sun.

If you wear a flapper style dress or a slip dress, please note that your ensemble will look unfinished without a pair of vintage style sunglasses.

Jewellery – The first sets of stylish costume jewellery became popular in the early twenties. Many came in strong bold colours with sleek and streamlined geometric shapes that expressed the modern Art Deco movement. Pieces include large bracelets, brooches, pendants, and chandelier earrings.

The 1920s woman often wore strings of beads and you can get that same look too. For that same elegance, you can drape your neck with a few layers of smooth round beads of different sizes. Glass beads or faux pearls look great if you wish to create the Flapper signature.

Roaring 20s

Handbags – Probably the most stunning handbags of the 20s are the beaded bags in colourful designs and the glitzy mesh bags with beading and Asian and Egyptian motifs – popular Art Deco designs. Other bags were made from embroidered fabric or hand-tooled leather (with embossed designs), and because a lady didn’t have much to fit into her handbag, they were usually small in size, unlike today’s ladies handbags.

My best types are embellished clutch purses, reticules (pouch-shaped with drawstrings), and mesh bags.

Flapper Style Handbags
Flapper Style Handbags by viryabo  

Other Fashion Accessories – If you want that extra-chic twenties look, any one of the following items must be used to accessorize your apparel. These items include hand fans, hand gloves, cigarette holders (if you smoke), pillbox, a feather boa, wristwatch, and a lace-trimmed handkerchief.

Further Reading:
7 Famous Fashion Designers of the 1920s
1950s Vintage Swing Dresses with Full Circle Skirts
Dress Like a Silver Screen Goddess (Old Hollywood Style)
On a final note, you don’t have to dress head-to-toe vintage (you can for a costume party or themed event) if you don’t want to fully re-create the 1920s vintage style. Rather, blend in the past with the present, for instance, wear the Flapper dress with stilettos instead of a Mary Jane reproduction, and use a modern clutch bag instead of a purse.

1920s Fashion

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