A century has passed since the amazing roaring twenties; however, the fashion centerpiece of this era being the flapper dress remains as popular today as ever before. Most of us assimilate this glamourous style of dress to the 2013 block buster remake of “The Great Gatsby” however few really understand the history the term ‘flapper.’
History teaches us that prior to the 1920’s, women were treated as a lower class and somewhat inferior to men. The commencement of the 1st world war started to see this way of thinking decline. Whilst the men battled on the fields of war the women made their way into the workforce and filled the void left by the men. They filled manufacturing and agricultural positions and supported the front line as nurses and doctors.
Shortly after the end of the 1st world war in 1918 came a time of economic prosperity and a quantum leap in women’s independence which included the 19th amendment allowing a woman’s right to vote.
When we reference the term flapper, no-one really knows how or when it entered American slang however it came to circulate shortly after the end of the 1st world war. What we do know is the flapper girl has etched herself into the pages of history and best summarized as a younger lady with a zest for life, that enjoyed the finer things in life.
The flapper girl enjoyed speakeasy settings and more than often, flaunted themselves before the world. They would set out to the roads making tours and trips, wearing excessive makeup, smoking, and drinking, showing their sex appeal publicly, and so on! It indeed is a huge list.
Now that we know when the flapper girl entered history, let us look at how they looked.
As we know today flapper girls loved to flaunt themselves however fast forward 100 years it is like history has erased their type of behavior and only remembered them for their glamorous style of fashion.
Moving forward flapper girls wore incredibly glamorous dresses for their time. Generally short to knee length and sometimes featuring decadent patterns of sequins and beads. The other prominent feature of these dresses were fringes. The main outcome of these dresses was to show skin top and bottom but keep the torso covered.
Outfits were commonly accessorized with feathered headbands, pearl and diamond-based jewelry, t-strap heels, and shawls. As they were obsessed with jazz music, their shoes were specially made for dancing purposes. Interestingly, close-fitting crocheted skullcaps were also famous in that era. A thin scarf or satin belt tied around the head above the eyebrow also was the perfect part of their outfit.
Flappers also made sure that their hair was styled in the latest trends. We think that the most common 1920s style of hair was the bobbed haircut. This is somewhat incorrect. Women more preferred curls and waves.
Unfortunately, the flappers reign was short-lived. The flapper culture came to an end by the end of the 1920s. The Wall Street Crash in 1929 made a huge impact in the USA. Jobs were lost, lives were severely impacted, and it became tough for them to afford such luxuries as automobiles, aviation, radio, and all others. The luxuries the flapper once enjoyed were no longer.
Added to this society was moving on and the behavior and dress code of the flappers were starting to be reigned in. Numerous US states then acted and made laws to restrict women wearing short dresses & skirts. On the extreme, some companies started firing those who had bobbed haircuts.
Sadly, the flappers disappeared from the scene as quickly as they arrived. Thankfully, the pages of history did not erase them!