Flappers were a "new breed" of young Western women in the 1920s who wore short skirts, bobbed their hair, listened to jazz, and flaunted their disdain for lady-like behavior. Flappers were seen as brash for wearing excessive makeup, drinking, treating sex in a casual manner, smoking, driving cars and otherwise flouting sexual and social norms.
The word "flapper" often brings to mind a stereotypical image of women in the 1920s: short hair, short dress, and carefree attitude. Although there were certainly some flappers who fit this description, there were others who did not, or who simply did not identify with or support the flapper lifestyle.
Eyebrows were painfully thin; in a fad, women plucked out the entire eyebrow and penciled it back on higher than it had been in the first place. Along with other 'unfeminine' behaviors, Flappers didn't hide their makeup any more than they did their legs; lipstick was applied at the dinner table and powder compacts made public appearances at parties and speakeasies. Portable makeup containers—compacts and lipstick tubes made of precious metals and encrusted with jewels—became ideal accessories when cosmetics left the boudoir for the banquette.
Before the '20's, women wore cosmetics, but nice women hid their rouge pots and powder puffs away from fathers and husbands, who heartily disapproved. Discretion was imperative. But when the '20's hit, young women went for makeup in a big way: stars like Theda Bara and Clara Bow made paper-white skin, blood red lips and insanely made-up eyes into must-haves for every fashionable woman who ever rolled a stocking below the knee.
hose three years represented the climax of flapper fashion, with brave women sporting shorter dresses to better accommodate animated dance styles, including the Charleston, Fox Trot and Black Bottom. In additional to bared ankles and calves, flappers also put their bare arms on display, often dressing up naked wrists with multiple bracelets. The Jazz Age was also the era when women traded in their black woolen stockings for sheerer hosiery. Many flappers also rolled down their hosiery, resembling makeshift knee-highs. And rather than boring black hosiery, flappers sprang for patterns and pastels, transforming hosiery into a fashion accessory rather than a mere undergarment [source: Jailer-Chamberlain]. T-strap and buckled heels -- not too high to prevent dancing, however -- were the preferred footwear.
Looser lingerie called step-ins replaced tight-laced corsetry, and minimizing brassieres kept curves under wraps [source: Gourley]. Sack-like shift dresses became the flapper uniform, and the simplistic design allowed women of all socioeconomic rungs to make their own and remain on-trend. Flappers literally walked around lighter than Victorian era woman, considering, for example, that the average flapper dress consisted of around 7 yards of fabric, compared to 20 yards for a Victorian gown
Even though they were worn as early as 1910 and well into the 1930s, the cloche hat is usually thought of as the iconic headwear style of the 1920s flapper period. Cloche hats went hand-in-hand with short haircuts of the times, such as the Eton Crop, and symbolized the ‘modernity’ of the wearer.
Another very obvious fashion feature of this time period was "bobbed" hair. It was first introduced in America during and just after World War I and popularized by society dancer Irene Castle. In 1914 she stunned impressed fashionable New York by appearing in a show with bobbed hair. During a European tour she had seen fashionable Parisian women wearing their hair cut very short and lost no time in having her own hair cut.
For many in the late 20th and early 21st century, the late 1920s actress Louise Brooks is felt to epitomize the look the look of the flapper (although flappers and bobbed hair had been in the popular consciousness for almost a decade before she became widely known).
It was relatively easy for small-busted women to conform to the flat-chested look of the Flapper era. Women with larger breasts tried products like the popular Symington Side Lacer, which when laced at both sides pulled and helped to flatten women's chests. Some 'bras' of the early 1920s were little more than camisoles, and they or a chemise were often worn in place of the now-aging corset or the newer bra.
Her elegant and versatile fashions were made from durable fabrics usually reserved for men's work clothes. Chanel stripped fashion of excess material, frilly lace, and the constraints of the past.Rather than using more fabric, Chanel used beads and embroidery to decorate her clothes. Chanel's "illusion jewelry": beautiful gemstone necklaces and other accessories fleshed out her "simple modern" look. This technique of adorning women with beautiful jewelry with was suited to her vision of the modern woman since they would not have to fight extra layers or constricting shoulder pads of the Victorian era.
Chanel's "Garconne Look" was quickly adopted in Britain and the U.S. and has broadly been called the "flapper look". The Flapper look was defined by it's "masculine" influence. Chanel used male motifs like sailors outfits and mechanic's dungarees as inspirations for her fashions. The flapper look shaped the face of fashion in the 1920's and will forever be linked primarily the Coco Chanel.
The flapper fashion era was actually from 1926 to approximately 1928 and during this time is when most would have seen knees showing; powdered knees at that with stockings rolled over their garters.
Women’s clothing became more mannish with a more straight flow of the dress, in other words the bust line was under-emphasized to the point that women bound their breasts.
High fashion until the twenties had been for the richer women of society. But because construction of the flapper's dress was less complicated than earlier fashions, women were much more successful at home dressmaking a flapper dress which was a straight shift. It was easier to produce up to date plain flapper fashions quickly using flapper fashion Butterick dress patterns. The flapper fashion style flourished amid the middle classes negating differences between themselves and the truly rich, but continuing to highlight some differences with the really poor. The really rich still continued to wear beautifully embellished silk garments for evening, but the masses revelled in their new found sophistication of very fashionable flapper clothes.
Flappers did not truly emerge until 1926. Flapper fashion embraced all things and styles modern. A fashionable flapper had short sleek hair, a shorter than average shapeless shift dress, a chest as flat as a board, wore make up and applied it in public, smoked with a long cigarette holder, exposed her limbs and epitomised the spirit of a reckless rebel who danced the nights away in the Jazz Age.
Representations of women's place became both more sarcastic and more irreverent in the 1920s. The flapper image dominated the decade's magazine covers. Precedents for the flapper appeared in the 1910s in a set of images of the young woman as party girl, vamp, or "scheming beauty" (p. 60). Such cover portraits showed women who were risqué and sexually free. The flapper was another of these types, but, Kitch asserts, she was "not terribly dangerous" and "much more fun than the vamp" (p. 121). The flapper college graduate, rather than serious and earnest like her "girl" precursor, fell into a chair, kicked up her legs, and set her diploma alight with the cigarette she smoked (p. 124, fig. 6.1)
The term Flapper was coined by the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency in the 1920s for their younger customers.