Flappers were some of the most revolutionary women that the world has ever seen. On the heels of the conservative Victorian and Edwardian eras, women in the 1920s weren’t afraid to challenge gender norms and question their place in society. This forward-thinking attitude didn’t just change the way that people acted during the Roaring Twenties - it affected the way women were looked at in society forever. Flappers challenged social norms and looked great doing so. Short dresses, stylish accessories, and cutting-edge hair styles were just a few of the ways that women took a stance. Its for this reason that their iconic sense of style lives on even 100 years later. If you want to channel some of this 1920s Flapper femininity, here is a definitive guide to dressing like a fabulous 1920s Flapper.
To truly become a 1920s Flapper, the hair is one of the most important steps. Flappers were known for their elegant, iconic hairstyles. Some were demure, while others challenged time-honored social norms regarding femininity. Either way, adopting one of these chic styles of cuts will definitely make you feel more like a 1920s party girl.
The Bob Without a doubt, the most iconic hairstyle to come out of the 1920s was the bobbed. This closely cropped cut was revolutionary at the time. In the Victorian and Edwardian eras, “proper” women always kept their hair long and piled it upon their head in elaborate curled up-dos. Flappers, however, weren’t afraid to challenge social norms and sought to redefine what society considered “feminine.” Short hair may not be uncommon today, but in the 1920s it truly made a statement.
This androgynous cut first made its debut in 1915 when a popular ballroom dancer named Irene Castle cropped her hair into what was quickly referred to as the “Castle Bob.” While it became a popular cut with women in the mid 1920s, it was still met with mixed reviews. Many salons refused to perform this cut on women because they considered it indecent. Even women themselves had to ease themselves into this trend. Those who didn’t want to chop off their locks completely would pin their hair back in a faux bob so that they could try out the look without making the commitment. As the 1920s went on, however, the cut became more commonplace. In 1925, the popular Washington Post published an article that accredited The Bob with completely changing the beauty industry. This highly coveted cut caused the number of salons across the nation to increase. Barbershops were booming in business because of their willingness to provide ladies with “The Bob.”
Other Popular Styles
While the Bob was easily the most popular cut, there are other iconic styles from the 1920s that flappers frequently sported. Many associate Finger Waves with this elegant time period. Although a bit difficult to create, there are many tutorials online that will help you create a hairdo featuring these flat, linear waves.
Flappers completely changed the way that women’s clothing looked in the 1920s. In the past, long, modest gowns were the norm. But flappers, however, were more active and rebellious than women had been in previous generations. They rejected these gender norms and sought to wear clothing that was comfortable, easy to move in, and even a little scandalous. In truth, the dresses Flappers wore during the 1920s wouldn’t be considered “short” by today’s standards. Most hemlines extended past the knee - sometimes all the way to the middle of the calf. Showing even a little bit of leg, however, was deemed inappropriate by older generations. Flappers embraced this fashion statement and shamelessly wore short dresses while they drank, smoked, and danced - other activities that would have been considered “improper” in polite society. We often imagine that flappers wore dresses that were covered in fringe. While fringed dresses were somewhat popular during this decade, they were definitely not the norm. Instead, women wore unstructured sheath styles that were made of lightweight fabrics like silk. Sometimes, these dresses would also feature a sheer overlay that was accented with beading, embroidery, and other embellishments.
Flappers truly loved their accessories. So much so that they weren’t afraid to pile them on before a night out on the town. From jeweled headbands to Art Deco earrings, nothing was off limits when it came to enhancing your look. If you’re looking to emulate the fashion-forward Flappers from the 1920s, eye-catching accessories are an essential ingredient.
Hats were a favorite of flappers everywhere. A popular accessory in the 1920s, men and women alike wore hats when running errands or attending daytime events. Styles like a classic Tam O’Shanter hat or a sporty beret will give any afternoon look a 1920s twist. In the evening, Flappers sported elegant turban-style hats, which were made of opulent materials and featured elegant jeweled accents. The most popular hat from the 1920s, however, was definitely the Cloche Hat. Named after the French word for “bell,” this bell-shaped hat fit close to the head and sometimes featured a slight brim in the front. Flappers loved these stylish hats because they both complemented and highlighted their statement-making cropped haircuts. To add Flapper flair into your wardrobe, a classic cloche is a true must-have.
Headbands & Hair Pins
Hair accessories were another popular pick for fashion-forward flappers. Jeweled or highly elaborate headbands - which were often worn over the forehead - will help you create a stylish and authentic flapper look. If you’d like to keep your hair accessories a little less dramatic, there is another common accessory that can be used instead. The Bob haircut was often pinned in place with small pins that were (and still are) referred to as Bobby Pins. To keep your look simple and streamlined, add a few bobby pins into your hair instead.
Before the 1920s, jewelry had never been mass produced. The Industrial Revolution, however, changed the way that products were made. This meant that for the first time ever, Flappers could buy affordable “Costume Jewelry” that would elevate their outfits and make their looks more elegant. Josephine Baker - a famous French dancer and entertainer - was rarely seen on stage without wearing multiple strands of long pearls. Tastemaker Coco Chanel also was a fan of wearing fake pearl necklaces whenever she went out in public. Because of this, faux pearls became an essential accessory for fashion-forward women across the country. Long strands of pearls were the perfect accent for the unstructured, drop-waist dresses that 1920s Flapper loved wearing.
While handbags weren’t as popular in the 1920s as they are today, active women still required a place to store their things. Clutch purses were a popular pick at the beginning of the 1920s. Usually carried under the crook of the arm, they were often made of fine materials and were adorned with glittering embellishments. As the decade wore on, women needed a more convenient way to carry their things. It’s been said that famous fashion designer Coco Chanel was the first woman to recognize this need - thus, she added a long strap to a purse and the crossbody purse was born. Stylish, unstructured bags called “Reticules” were often used by Flappers to carry their money, lipstick, and cigarettes when they went out for an exciting evening. In the daytime, women were more likely to use beautiful leather handbags that featured western-inspired adornments.
Peacock feathers became a popular embellishment in the 1920s. Not only did these add flair and color to any outfit, they also mimicked the look of popular Art Deco accessories. It wasn’t uncommon for Flappers to adorn their headbands, hats, or other hair accessories with a plume of beautiful peacock feathers.
Art Deco Jewelry
The Art Deco movement changed the way that people created art, architecture, and many other mediums. None were perhaps more popular, however, than the rise of Art Deco jewelry. These opulent pieces often featured colorful gemstones, repetitive geometric patterns, and dramatic metal work. If a 1920s Flapper was to wear fine jewelry, chances are she would want to have an elegant piece in Art Deco style. Cropped haircuts meant that earrings were more popular than ever before. Dangling drop earrings with diamonds or other gemstones were ideal for elegant, upscale flappers. Rings and bracelets also were styled after popular Art Deco motifs.
Women in the 1920s weren’t heading out on the town wearing sky-high stilettos. They almost all wore heels with their stylish dresses. However, the heels that were popular in the 1920s were made with practicality in mind. A small stacked heel was easy to walk in, and made it possible to dance The Charleston all night long. Dance crazes from the 1920s also influenced the shoes that people wore. To perform these popular dance moves - which usually featured women kicking out their feet - Flappers needed heels that would stay in place. That’s why shoes with an ankle strap or T-strap became the most popular among fashionable flappers during the Jazz age.
While the way they dressed is still celebrated, it’s important to also remember how courageous Flappers were in their time. After all, they were also known for their carefree attitude. Flappers believed that women could drink, dance, and enjoy life in every way that a man could. Adopting this attitude into your daily life is the best way to channel the feisty spirit of the flappers. Don’t be afraid to take a stand against social norms you don’t believe in. Who knows - maybe you can spark a revolution just like the Flappers did.