1920′s Women’s Dress Fashion and Style.
If you’re planning a 1920′s party, fancy dress or just looking for a good resource for flapper fashion from the 1920′s, it never hurts to actually learn a bit about that incredible decade of style. Women’s Fashion in the roaring twenties was all about elegance. This page is a good resource for all aspects of a 1920s woman’s dress fashions, hairstyle and makeup!
Also – to augment this page – we have a brand new 1920s style post dedicated solely to Flapper Fashion.
For other 1920′s related fashion posts -
1920′s Swimwear Fashion
1920′s Makeup- History
The 1920′s Make-up Look – How to Apply
1920s Hairstyles – Bobbed, Crops, and Finger-waves.
The 1920′s Make-up Look .
Want to step into a time machine and get original makeup and beauty advice from a 1920′s society dame? Then you can also check out our new post – A Flappers Guide to 1920′s Makeup
The famous 1920′s society girl and Cecil Beaton model Marjorie Oelrichs dishes out secret after secret on how to be beautiful – 1920′s style !
Download the full beautiful rare 1920′s Beauty Guide by Marjorie from Vintage Make-up Guides – our sister channel, which publishes uniquely restored beauty and make-up guides from the 1920′s, 1930′s, 1940′s, 1950′s and very soon the 1960′s !
The key was feminine grace, but without curves. This loose clothing fad only lasted a short while and eventually was replaced by more austere lines in the more grim days of the 1930′s. A Slender and flat chested silhouette was the objective for women, and large busts could be flattened with the help of early bras like the infamous Symington Side Lacer.
Most people tend to think of the 1920′s style as the Flapper Look. The short,flared mini skirt with headbands and long cigarette holders etc, but this style applies more to the 1960′s revival of the roaring Twenties look, made popular by films such as the amazing and iconic film Cabaret and The Boyfriend, starring the 1960s model Twiggy.
Descriptions of the Flapper as reported in newspapers of the times.
” She is a symbol of the times. As she sweeps down the street, she is like nothing so much as a fine, young spirited puppy-dog, eager for the fray”
“But then it was not good form to wear paint in daylight. Now it is, apparently. That many young women now carry this to extreme is not unusual…”
“One hears it said that the girls are actually tempting the boys more than the boys do the girls, by their dress and conversation…”
“How can I sell these styles?…the flappers won’t buy them.”
Most dresses and skirts between 1925 and 1930 rested just below the knee, often just above the ankle . To be truly authentic – knee length dresses were matched with short necklaces and long dresses had long necklaces ! Day Dresses often were little different from evening wear but would employ lace or some other type of overlay . While the flapper dress per say did not have a defined waistline, the popular look was the dropped waist or skirt.
Dresses were often made at home with the help of the Women’s Institute designs, and were designed to be simple – two pieces of fabric sewn up the sides ! Mary Brooks Picken’s 1920′s Dress designs were extremely popular. You would use a Dress form to hang it on for fitting to your own specific body shape. The style would hang loose and quite straight with a drop waist, and therefore was straight forward enough to cut out from a pattern and sew. The bias cut, which was figure hugging was the rage. Developed originally by French designer Madeleine Vionnet
The Rise and Fall of the Hem.
The changes in hem length in the 1920s resembled that of a stock exchange index. By 1925, the year of the famous Paris Exposition, skirt and dress hems had risen to just above the knee,
an unimagined thought just ten years earlier. By the end of the decade however, more asymmetrical hems brought hemlines down below the knees again. But the mold had been broken and hems have risen and lowered regularly since then according to the whims of not only fashion designers, but more cynically, the cheap availability of fabric. Below is an interesting graph displaying the changes to hem length.
Tunic-tops and sweaters reaching to the hips were extremely popular. The hip length sweater mirrored the dropped waist look for dresses and skirts.
The general design mode and aim was to take emphasis away from the hips and to some extent the female shape. This is a defining look for the 1920′s woman.
The Dress Form
As stated – the waistline was very low – often below the bum, until 1925. Thereafter the waistline was nearer the natural hip.
Dress accessories, Fabrics and Popular 1920′s Dress Colors
Oodles of Beading, furs, feathers, flowers, and lace ! especially when going out at night. Popular fabrics were chiffon,taffeta, satin, velvet and brocade! beading, furs, feathers, flowers, and lace. Floral dress colors, as can be seen in our archive film below, were hugely popular.
Shimmering Art Deco styles in gold for your purse, makeup cases etc.
Not to mention your personal gold cigarette case !
Feathered headbands and turbans – often the image associated with the flapper look were really an art nouveau left over from the 1910′s and by the mid 1920′s if you chose to wear one, you pushed it well back and lost the feathers ! Sequined caps – often heavily ornamented were also popular. Hat Fashion went side by side with hair styles. The big decision facing many women was to Bob or not to Bob, to Crop or not to Crop, or just play safe go with the Fingerwave style !
In the early twenties,hats were wider in order to hold the longer hairstyles. As more and more women bobbed or cropped their hair, hats were tighter to the head and the most popular style was the famous cloche hat. In our opinion, the coolest hat ever designed.
Vintage Corsets remained popular among young working women in the 1920′s, but come evening time, off went the corsets, stockings were rolled to the knee and women danced !! Long Girdles with attached suspenders were often worn.
Women wore directoire knickers, or Cami-knickers or knickers and a petticoat. In stockings,Soft pastel colors or flesh colors were popular and the new artificial silk called Rayon. Nylons were not due until the late 1930′s.
The term ‘swimsuit’ was coined by the firm Jantzen and their iconic black figure hugging swimwear spectacularly banished the inclusion of bloomers once and for all. Immediately preceded by the ‘swim dress’ of the 1910s, the ‘ new look’ for swimwear included a one piece swimsuit with a short wrap-over skirt, which re-invented itself as the 1960′s mini many decades later. Rolled stockings were worn when not in the water and the overall look was truly glamorous. Parasols were a popular accessory.
Elsa Schiaparelli’s famous trompe l’oeil [ meaning - deceive the eye ] sweaters were redesigned by her into beautiful designed knit bathing suits that had a distinctly nautical flavor to them.
Vintage women’s coats – The 1920′s
Wrap over coats were the essential style, especially in winter. Large buttons and belts galore. The coat lining was often fashioned to match dress fabric.
1920′s Women’s Flapper Shoes
In the 1920′s women’s shoes focused on the strap design. Bar Shoes and T- Bar shoes were all the rage.
Popular because you could dance without them slipping off !
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