The Roaring 2020’s – Flapper Fashion in the 1920’s

Fashion has always been a means of expression; whether of the self, a time period, or a political movement. In the 1920s, fashion was an expression of the joy of the post-war period; it was a decade nicknamed the “Roaring Twenties.” On New Year’s Eve 2019, people joked that with the approach of the 2020s, we would have a second coming of this era. However, within the first few months of 2020, it became clear that such a thing was impossible.

There will be a day when COVID-19 leaves us for good. And when that day comes, imagine this: glittering dresses, Gatsby-esque cocktails in underground clubs, endless parties, loved ones and potential new friends everywhere to be seen. Like with the 1920’s celebrations of the victory in WW1, we should celebrate our own victory in the battle against the virus, and do it in the most extravagant way possible: by finally having our own glittering, gleeful Roaring 2020s!

This is likely wishful thinking, but just in case this concept magically catches on, here is some information about the fashion and lifestyle of the 1920’s flapper, so we can all study up on the models for our post-COVID lifestyles.

French fashion, the growth of jazz, the suffrage movement and a desire to transgress societal boundaries all influenced flapper fashion. Their style of dressing and of life was centred around breaking the boundaries of the previous decades. Forgotten were the stiff, structured silhouettes of the Victorian era; these women wore dresses that revealed skin, along with lots of makeup.

They dressed in a way that permitted them to move and dance freely, unlike the fashions of previous decades, with the common use of stays and corsets that restricted movement somewhat. (See my earlier article on corestry to learn more about this garment!) The flappers abandoned these devices, and introduced early versions of bras and lingerie.

The looseness of flapper dresses allowed an androgynous silhouette, abandoning the emphasis of the female form that previous forms of fashion had enhanced. The waistline was by the hips, the cut of the dress usually loose and straight. Hemlines inched up over the years from below the knee to just above.

Fringe, beads and jewels were used as embellishments, with fringe being popular to accentuate movement when dancing. Shoes with small heels were often worn, the lack of height allowing more ease when moving around.

So, the flapper’s fashion was highly scandalous and liberated. Their lifestyle was similar! Flappers smoked, enjoyed casual sex, drove cars, and stayed out late drinking. They threw out all the rules of gender and society, and focused on having a good time.

Everything about the flapper life, from their clothes to their behaviour, spoke of joyfulness and frivolity. All people wanted to do was go out and have fun after struggling for so long. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

When this is all over, and we can stop worrying about the safety of ourselves and others, perhaps we could take a note out of the flapper’s books and – once it’s safe to do so, of course – adorn ourselves in jewels, throw all the rules away, and enjoy ourselves!

About the author

Jessica Wilkinson

Jess is a undergraduate student studying English at the University of York. She has a passion for Vintage style, Sustainable Fashion and loves to write. 


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