Flapper girl was a fashionable young woman in the 1920s who lived life by her own rules and wasn’t afraid to shake things up. Instead of following society’s expectations, these women drank, smoked, danced, wore short skirts, and cut their hair short. These fabulous feminists believed that women had a right to enjoy all of the same activities as a man. Flappers may have thought that they were just having fun, but they were also completely changing the way that American women lived forever after. If you want to live, dress, and style yourself like an authentic flapper girl from the 1920s, try out these techniques.
Live Like a Flapper
The 1920s were a very different era. With that said, many of the same classic activities that we partake in today were also available for flappers. These activities would pass the time until it was time to head out to a speakeasy or a raucous, Gatsby-esque party.When flappers wanted to stay in, they often did crossword puzzles, played card games, or listened to the radio. Talking on the phone has long been a pastime of young women, even in the 1920s. After gathering a group together, flappers would perhaps go for a drive, play a round of golf, or watch a live baseball game. Dances like the waltz, fox trot, tango, and The Charleston were also popular.
Talk Like a Flapper
Flappers were always in-tune with what was in style. That’s why they had their own slang that successfully set them apart. Using these trendy words make them seem even more flashy and rebellious than they already were. To truly feel like a flapper girl, try incorporating these fantastic phrases into your everyday life:
If something was cool or good, it was “the cat’s pajamas.” Sometimes flappers would also use the phrases “the kitten’s ankles,” “the goat’s whiskers,” or “the duck’s quack,” which meant the exact same thing.
Engagement rings were called “Handcuffs” by flappers. In fact, they had many words to describe the process of getting together or breaking up. A married woman was referred to as a “Fire Bell,” while a divorced woman was called a “Fire Alarm.” If you got married, you went through an “Eye Opener.” If you were getting a divorce, however, you were “Dropping the Pilot.”
A “Petting Party” referred to parties where people would drink, get loose, and likely hook up. Unsurprisingly, a lot of flapper slang revolves around partying and getting wild. If a man was a good dancer (and a big spender) he was called a “Sharpshooter” or a “Billboard.” In contrast, if he was a cheapskate he was referred to as a “Dewdropper,” a “Mustard Plaster,” a “Rug Hopper,” or a “Smith Brother.”
Women also used slang when referring to their female friends…and their female enemies. A girl who liked cigarettes was a “Smoke Eater.” A flashy woman wearing lots of jewelry was a “Showcase.” If a flapper didn’t like another flapper, she would call her a “Tomato,” a “Flour Lover,” or a “Face Stretcher.”
Dress Like a Flapper
There are a few different ways to dress like a Flapper Girl from the 1920s. During this decade, Flappers were challenging gender norms and tossing off society’s old ideas of what was “appropriate” for a lady to wear. The Victorian Era, in which society expected women to be completely covered from head to toe, had ended only a few decades earlier. Although styles during the Edwardian Era were a bit more relaxed, women still were expected to wear floor-length gowns that emphasized modesty and chastity. During the Jazz Age, flappers started wearing dresses that hit at the knee or mid-calf. We now consider midi-length dresses to be decidedly modest. At the time, however, this new way of dressing was scandalous. People in older generations - who had lived in Victorian society - saw short dresses as salacious and inappropriate. By casting off societal norms, Flappers truly changed fashion forever. To dress like an authentic flapper girl straight from the 1920s, opt for a dress with a hemline that hits right around the knee. The dresses flappers wore also had to be easy to dance in. That’s why most flapper dresses were incredibly unstructured. A sheath dress with no inherent waistline is figure-flattering and perfect for doing the Charleston all night long. During this era, Art Deco design elements were incredibly stylish. Influenced by the opulence of Ancient Egypt, Art Deco garments were heavily embellished and decidedly decadent. Dresses often featured eye-catching geometric patterns that were either embroidered or beaded onto the design. These elegant accents gave flapper fashion its iconic, over-the-top appearance. This opulence extended all the way from the top of the dress to the hemline. Hemlines were often embellished with touches of lace or extra beading so that they moved in an interesting manner while trying out the era’s latest dance moves. Contrary to popular belief, fringe often wasn’t included on many dresses that flappers wore in the 1920s. With that said, our modern representations of flappers are always wearing fringe. If you want to make a statement and look like a modern-day Jazz Age darling, don’t be afraid to opt for a dress with rows of fringe at the hem.
Accessorize Like a Flapper
The right accents will add authentic vintage flair to your flapper girl look. The Art Deco era was all about accessories. Jewelry, hats, and other accoutrements were a must-have for fashionable women during the 1920s. These accessories took center stage and always made flappers feel extra fabulous -
When people think about flappers, they often picture them wearing pearls. Josephine Baker, one of history’s most famous flappers, was frequently photographed wearing multiple strands of pearls during her dance performances. One long strand is sleek, subdued, and pairs well with any flapper dress. Or, opt for multiple pearl necklaces to really make a statement.
Stockings were essential when it was time to go out. To look like a true flapper, a pair of delicate stockings are a must. During the day, black stockings were paired with casual dresses and everyday outfits. When it was time to party, flappers opted instead for nude stockings that were one shade darker than their natural skin tone.
Cloche hats were an essential accessory during the 1920s. These bell-shaped hats were cute, practical, and highlighted the cropped haircut that was incredibly in-style. Cloche hats were worn only during daytime activities and were rarely worn at night. If you want to dress like an authentic flapper, be sure to don a cloche.
Flappers rarely wore flats. Instead, their shoes almost always had a stacked heel. Their everyday shoes were practical leather booties that had menswear inspired touches like Oxford styling, a lace-up accent, or chic leather color-blocking. When it was time to go out, their shoes were a little dressier. Art Deco sandals in eye-catching colors were all the rage. They almost always featured a T-strap or ankle strap - this was so that they would stay on a flapper’s feet while she was dancing.
Before the 1920s, women almost always grew their hair long and piled it on their head in an intricate up-do. Flappers, however, cast off this idea of what it meant to be “ladylike.” Instead, they cut their hair short into a smart, chin-length bob. For a truly authentic cut, opt for severe bangs and a mysterious, dark color like the iconic Louise Brooks.
Finger Curls or Finger Waves were a flapper favorite. In the 1920s, women didn’t have the at-home styling tools we have today. Instead, they created these stylish waves by pinning their wet hair into place. The technique is a little tricky to master. If you would rather embrace modern technology, a hair curler can give you a similar style
When flappers kept their hair long, they styled their hair into a cascade of curls. Sometimes, these curls were pinned up near their face for added elegance. Top this elegant hairstyle off with a flapper headband and you’ll be all set.
Flapper Makeup Trends
The makeup industry in the 1920s was much smaller than it is today. You would never find a flapper with colorful eyeshadow or a contoured look. Still, flappers wanted to look enticing when they went out for a night of drinking and dancing. This meant following makeup trends that were popular in the Roaring Twenties. Actresses often wore heavy makeup so their features could be better captured on camera. Women everywhere wanted to look like their favorite celebrities, so heavy eye makeup became a trend in the Twenties. The look is very similar to black smokey eye styles that are still popular. The most iconic makeup trend in the 1920s was definitely the Cupid’s Bow Lip. Inspired by Hollywood actresses like Clara Bow, women wanted their lips to look dark, demure, and highly exaggerated. A dark lip liner was used to exaggerate the shape of the top lip to make it more pronounced. Then, a matte dark red color was used to fill them in.