How Do You Dress Like a Flapper?

by Karen

Fashion trends come and go, but flapper dresses are here to stay.

For those wondering, “What years were flapper dresses popular?” be prepared to be surprised. This dress style is symbolic of the 1920s, a decade that began with a roar, with unprecedented economic prosperity and freedom for flappers. The era is prized for its party spirit, arts, and entertainment. Its dresses embody just that.

20s flapper dress captures the glitz and glamor of an interesting time in history. Wear them and wear them right with these handy tips from the WardrobeShop.


But First, a Little Bit of History To Understand How Flapper Dresses Came To Be

The 1920s, famously known as the Jazz Age, was the decade for flappers.

What were the flappers in the 1920s?

Ladies walking in the street wearing vintage flapper dresses of 1920s era

Flappers were independent young women who pushed past the boundaries of societal expectations. They were known for lifestyles that were considered outrageous and immoral — smoking and drinking in public, going out without a chaperone, lounging in illegal speakeasies, and so on.

Their rebellious spirits could be attributed to World War I. It was a time when men left their country to fight in the war while women were forced to take on jobs that were traditionally performed by men. In doing so, they got a taste of social and economic freedom. This independence was further fueled by the passing of the 19th Amendment which gave women the right to vote.

Free of moral, societal, and physical constraints, the country witnessed an unprecedented social explosion. A product of this subculture, these progressive women wore drop-waist dresses that highlighted their bodies in more natural ways. They also defiantly cut their hair to shorter lengths than before.

But why were they called flappers in the 1920s? The term came from the unfastened rubber galoshes that women wore which “flapped” as they walked. 

Ultimate Guide To Dressing Like a 1920s Flapper

Though it’s been several decades, many still cherish the flamboyant and stylish looks of that bygone era.

What does a 1920s flapper girl look like? Here are five tips to look like a charmingly savvy 1920s flapper:

1. Wear Your Hair Right

Short sleek and shiny hair styles

With the personal freedom World War I allowed them, women began chopping off their hair as a symbol of independence. Shorter lengths allowed them to style their hair in sleek and shiny styles that featured finger waves.

If you don’t want to cut your hair, you can pin it up in a tight bun or plait.

Here are some of the most popular trends you can emulate:

  • Flowy curls for a feminine Parisian look
  • Pin curls using single- or double-prong clips
  • A messy updo with a headband
  • Retro faux bob
  • Finger waves (in alternating directions)

If you already have short hair and are due for a trim, take a page from the onscreen actress who played Daisy Buchanan from The Great Gatsby. We love her simple, short hairstyles and stylish headbands!

2. Hats, Hats, Hats

Vintage inspired cloche hats & headbands of 1920s era

Cloche hats, headbands, and forehead bands were generously designed with gemstones, feathers, and crystals. Women also sported tiaras and bonnets which were reminiscent of the Victorian Era.

Other options include a bi-corn hat, turban, or a berry that exude the 1920 flappers vibe.

3. Get the Right Accessories

Right accessories for a 1920s flapper fashion outfit

Your flapper dress is the focal point of 1920’s outfits, and it doesn’t *need* add-ons to look good. However, if a simple slip dress is all you can find, you can jazz it up with a few choice accessories.

So, what accessories will elevate your flapper clothing? Here are some great ideas:

  • A one-strand necklace
  • Bangle bracelets
  • Statement earrings
  • A small beaded or sequined purse

Don’t forget your 1920s flapper fashion makeup: face cream to create a smooth canvas, light pink powder shades, long, thin eyebrows with ends sloping down, lashes darkened with liquid makeup, eyeliner above the lash line, smudged eyeshadow for a smoky look, and lip pomade — in the same shade as your rouge.

4. Most Importantly, Wear an Iconic Flapper Dress

Eva 1920s Flapper Style Dress in Peach-Black by Nataya

Finding the perfect iconic flapper dress that tells the world what does a flapper dress look like is key.

Flapper dresses feature straight styles that have boxy shapes from the chest to the hips. They’re typically sleeveless and about knee-length — a pretty scandalous style at that time.

Here are two factors to pay attention to when choosing 1920 clothing:

  • Style: Choose between a fringed or beaded dress. Match the dress to the occasion or event to ensure you don’t look out of place.
  • Material: Consider light materials like crepe, chiffon, silk, or satin. Because of their lightweight construction, these dresses provide the flowy texture that flapper dresses are known for.

If you’re not confident with a sleeveless dress because it draws attention to your arms, you can choose something with short sleeves. Or, you could stick to the original design and pair it with lace gloves that extend past the elbow, fur wraps, or embroidered shawls.

5. Flapper Shoes: Go for Straps and Pumps

Vintage inspired Straps and Pumps

What types of shoes were popular during the Roaring Twenties? Stylish women from the decade often wore pumps or Mary Janes — many times a combination of the two. You can thus opt for pumps with a T-strap over them. Or go for multiple straps.

Women at the time were excited to wear fashionable shoes because it was the first time that they were able to show their feet in public. Previously, their shoes were kept out of view by floor-length dresses.

Consider shoes in black, silver, or gold to keep up with the elegance of the 1920s. You can also go for two-toned shoes for a bit of contrast. 

Find the Perfect Flapper Dress With the WardrobeShop

 Vintage inspired flapper dress collection

Getting the perfect flapper dress is the most important part of capturing the essence of the 1920s. It’s easiest to first pick a dress and then get your hairstyle, hat, shoes, and other accessories to match. Fortunately, you’ll find quality and stylish flapper dresses from WardrobeShop’s collection of stunning 1920s flapper dresses.

Available in different colors, styles, and silhouettes, you can easily find a flapper dress that evokes the vibe you’re looking for whether it’s sultry, sweet, elegant, or a little of all three.

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