1920’s Fashion – Paul Poiret vs The Flapper Girl

The Flapper Girl Referendum in 1922

A young flapper posing in 1922 - Bain Collection
A young flapper posing in 1922 – Bain Collection

The last thirty days have witnessed a spectacle as astounding, as momentous, as far reaching as any of the episodes that have shaken the Earth’s foundations and caused mankind to stop, look and listen.

Mary Jayne seated in rocking chair with pistol strapped to her knee, claiming exemption from concealed weapon regulation by saying her thirty-two isn’t a concealed weapon in these days of knee-length skirts.

A revolution has occurred of greater significance than the French revolution, the Russian revolution or perhaps even our own revolution of 1776.

Lynn Fontanne wearing short skirt in 1922
Lynn Fontanne wearing short skirt in 1922

The flapper has rebelled – and by that act of rebellion have not only justified their existence but insured their survival. They have hurled the gauntlet in the face of Parisian dictator of style himself, Paul Poiret and declared that from now on they are going to use their own minds in matters of fashion in the 1920’s.

The flapper girl of the 1920’s

We asked women for simple Yes or No answers to Short Skirts, Rolled stockings , Corsets, High heels, Bobbed Hair, Face Makeup. Read on to find out how they voted.

Holeproof Hosiery -1922 - Coles Phillips
Risque advert art for women’s hosiery in 1922 by Coles Philiips

Mr Paul Poiret has seen fit to take up the cudgels against the flapper, on behalf of the long skirt, and therefore he cannot object if the shafts of ridicule are hurled at him in return.

Mr Poiret has had his surprise, judging from his public utterances. He was recently quoted as rather petulantly saying that “when fashion outlived its purpose it should be relegated to the scrap heap of the flapper”

Paul Poiret was out of step with the times in 1922

We fear that is the very designers of senseless out-dated modes ( such as the esteemed Mr Poiret ) who will ultimately be consigned to the scrap heap of style. The flapper is now a Hollywood sensation.

Weekly Journal-Miner article – 1922

Mr Poiret does appear to consent when he followed this statement with the quote that “American women may be tardy, but the feminine figure of the American girl is better developed and poised to make the most of this short skirt and coiffure fad

However he then goes on to suggest that the age of the short skirt is already over when he suggested that perhaps “the short skirt might return by 1928 for a time”

The Krazy Kat club in 1922.

Sorry Mr Poiret, but you must look up from the side walk a little more as you stroll through Paris. The age of the short skirt is upon you! The age of the bobbed hairdo is upon you !

As one flapper put it to me ” why in Gods name do these designers keep insisting that us girls wear longer skirt, when we clearly don’t want to. What do they think we are, a cluster of jellyfish with no minds of our own?


Twenty girls in Montreal have started a ” No Longer Skirt” league. All success to them. Their sisters in the US are not far behind them as The Flapper referendum shows. Of the scores of votes received as we now go to press: here are the results.

The Flapper Referendum 1922

Bobbed-hair-flapper-cartoon-1923 – Artwork ©Glamourdaze
  1. Short Skirts – No (1) Yes (431)
  2. Rolled stockings – No (4) Yes (428)
  3. Corsets – No ( 431) Yes (1)
  4. High heels – No (2) Yes (430)
  5. Bobbed Hair – No (0) Yes (432)
  6. Face Makeup – No (0) Yes (432)

Interestingly, there was overwhelming support for the new vogue for bobbed hair and makeup among all the women who answered our poll. So, Mr Poiret, it looks like your ship has been called home on this matter. The age of the flapper is upon you, we will see more of her legs, her face, her hairstyles and her attitude !

That’s all !
Originally printed in The Flapper 1922
Top two images courtesy Library of Congress

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