1920 Flapper Dresses

1920 Flapper Dresses: How to Dress Like a 1920’s Flapper Girl

The roaring 1920 Flapper Dresses will forever be remembered as the decade of flappers. “Bright Young Things” dressed up in their flapper dress for a night on the town at a dance hall or in an illegal speakeasy. What did flappers wear? Free of the moral and physical constraints of the previous decades, flapper costumes were loose but glamorous. During the day flappers dressed in drop-waist dresses with a small belt or wide sash to accent the hip line instead of the waist. Flat chests further enhanced the boyish flapper outfit. The evening brought out knee-length and longer fringe beading and sequin flapper dresses  with rhinestone and feather headbands creating a fun and feminine flapper outfit.

The short fringe flapper dress costume as we know it today is not accurate to the decade. It was a style developed in the late ’50s early ’60s that used the short shift dress of the decade as its base.  The first The Great Gatsby movie premiered in 1974, influencing some dazzling disco fashions of the decade.

The flapper style revived again in the 1980s with long fringe dresses and sequin-covered gowns. It is back today, thanks in part to the 2013 The Great Gatsby movie.

How did flappers dress in the 1920s? The flapper revolution started in the early twenties when dresses were still long. The short, slinky, flapper look was in full style by 1925. Flapper dresses were loose fitting slip-overs with short or long sleeves. A belt often accented the low waist (called a drop waist). Long pleats, pintucks,  collars, and neckties exaggerated the long and lean fashion. The flapper costume (the term costume meant outfit in the ’20s) was meant for the young and thin, although mature women could also wear the style with ease with the help of some slimming lingerie. Look here for daytime flapper costume.

Flapper evening dresses were designed to show as much skin as was morally acceptable. Exposing cleavage was still taboo, and for that matter even having a sizable chest was not in fashion (tape ’em down, girls). Bare backs were popular along with uneven “hanky” hemlines that exposed thighs while sitting down. Many flapper dresses were covered in beads or beaded fringe. The movement of fringe or tiers of fabric made dresses swish and jingle while Dancing the Charleston. Dresses that made a sound as they moved attracted the attention that a flapper desired.

For your authentic flapper costume, choose a dress made of a light material like chiffon, silk/satin, or crepe. Be sure to wear a matching slip if the dress is sheer. Elaborate beading will make the dress stand out but also expensive, so if budget is a concern, find a plain dress and jazz it up with sparkling accessories. Your dress should be knee-length or longer for authenticity (but can be shorter for a 1920s inspired look). It should fit loose, meaning you may need to buy a size up. It should not hug your curves.

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