The arrival of the flapper in the mid 1920s not only changed the social status of women, but it had a profound influence on fashion and style that continues to resonate today.
Politically, women pushed for equal rights, they experienced the freedom of working outside the home and enjoyed greater mobility and disposable income. With this new independence came personal fulfillment and a carefree spirit that drove a desire to embrace all things modern. For the first time in social history, this emancipation was expressed in women’s fashion and style.
For both evening and daywear, skirts were raised to expose the knee and the dresses were cut as shapeless shifts. Necklines were low and fringes, bugle beads and sequins added embellishment. Corsets were abandoned, flat chests and bare arms, declared the look. It was all about freedom and risk taking.
Coats were worn slightly longer with fur shawl collars and were generally buttoned or buckled to one side. Cloche hats became de rigueur. The T bar shoe or the Mary Jane ankle strap and the high heel completed the look.
The typical flapper cut her hair in bold fashion, either a short slick bob or a daring shingle cut known as the Eton crop took hold.
Eyeliner and ringed eyes, rouge and scarlet lips enhanced the overall look. The mirrored compact came into use for touching up lipstick and face powder even in public! It was thoroughly revolutionary.
Women took up smoking and the extended cigarette holder was used with great flourish. Alcohol became the norm and was often consumed from hip flasks. The very daring and well to do even drove cars! Being outrageous meant having fun.
Jazz clubs and speakeasies became the venues for the wildly energetic dancing of the Charleston, the Shimmy and the Black Bottom.
Famous flappers of the time included Zelda Fitzgerald (wife of F Scott Fitzgerald), Josephine Baker (black exotic dancer), Helen Kane (Singer: ‘I wanna be loved by you), Anita Loos (Author: ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’)
The coming of The Great Depression in 1929 brought an end to the carefree fun and frivolity that had typified the flapper era. The party was over but the influence of style lingered on.