The 1920s was a very exciting decade as it was the time when women discarded restrictive items of clothing like the corset and started to wear more comfortable clothes. Men also turned their back on exceedingly formal dress. From 1925 people enthusiastically embraced styles that we now associate with the Roaring Twenties.
Flappers were a generation of young Western women in the 1920s who wore short skirts, bobbed their hair, listened to jazz, and flaunted their disdain for what was then considered acceptable behavior. Flappers were seen as brash for wearing excessive makeup, drinking, treating sex in a casual manner, smoking, driving automobiles, and otherwise flouting social and sexual norms.
If you want to look ‘the cat’s pajamas’ start building your 1920s garb by choosing your dress. The dress shape that defined a decade can be summed up as knee-length, dropped waist-line, sleeveless or v-shaped front and back. The general style was to hide your curves rather than show them off.
Essential features of 1920s flapper dresses include: beads, sequins, lace, fringes, chiffon, satin, flowers, shiny and shimmery fabric and uneven hemlines.
Shoes – ‘Dog Kennels’- Pair of shoes.
Ladies, I’m sorry to say that stilettos had not yet been invented in the 1920s! At the Mansion, due to the flooring stilettos are not allowed… which is ok because wearing them will spoil the look. If you are wearing heels, try to wear a medium heel that is chunky. 1920s flapper shoes were made for dancing and you simply cannot do the Charleston dance in a pair of slingback peep-toe stilettos. If you want to get the look, wear heels that have a round closed toe and a t-bar strap or buckle. Anything that looks like a tap shoe will be great. But if you’re really stuck just go for something with a low to medium heel – perfect for dancing in!
Hair was another big change in the 20’s as previously women had always had long hair. If you already have a bob, you are in luck! As bobs were all the rage in the 1920s. Alternatively, if you have long hair try creating a chignon. Just slick your hair back and tie it into a low ponytail at the nape of your neck and wrap it round into a bun. Finger curls were also ‘in’ as well as the marcel wave.
When you think of the 1920s you immediately think of a thin headband with jewels or a feather attached. A headband is an easy way to recreate the 20s look and should be placed just above the brow line.
Men, if you want to look ‘brooksy’ – a classy dresser – the 1920s was a time of classic sophistication with a level of fun. Suits were made of thick wool or tweed and were slightly heavier than today’s suits. Jackets were single or double breasted with 3 to 4 buttons. The top button came to the heart – the highness of the suit lapels is what sets the 1920s suit apart from other eras.
Casual/Working class 1920s outfit
A pair of trousers – flat front high waisted, braces, shirt, white or striped. The shirt can be white or a striped, colored dress shirt with or without a collar. Any dress shirt you already have will work fine. Roll up the sleeves for that working-class touch., shoes, and hat.
Your shoes should be basic, plain, lace up Oxfords in brown or black. Lace up boots would be OK too.
The 1920s style cap is a must for your costume. The style at the time is what’s called an 8-panel cap or newsboy cap today. It’s not sleek and form-fitting like the ’30s styles, instead it is wide and floppy. Common fabrics were tweed, textured wool, felt, leather, and corduroy for winter, linen or cotton in summer.
1920s Business Class Men’s Costume
Suit: A matching 2 or 3-piece suit is ideal, but if you can’t get one, then choose at least trousers and a jacket that are the same color. A white shirt or solid pastel shirt would be fine, too, but stripes were the “in” thing to wear.
Tie: A necktie in paisley, small pattern or horizontal wide stripes are the semi-formal tie option. A bow tie is also another fun and period-correct alternative. Wear a polka dot tie for something unique and very ’20s.
Hat: Several kinds of hats can be worn by business class men. The Bowler or Derby was a carry-over from the previous decades. It’s most noteworthy fan was Charley Chaplin. Men also wore high crown fedoras, rolled edge Homburgs and straw hats like the Boater, Skimmer or Panama in the summer.
Shoes: A brown suits needs brown lace up Oxfords or boots. A grey or navy suit needs black oxfords. Cap toes or wingtips were a good men’s shoe.
One of the trendiest hairstyles in the 1920s was the slick back look. Hair was combed back and greased with tonic to make a sophisticated classic look that would be worn to formal occasions. The side parting was another popular choice, either parted in the centre or the middle and held down either side with tonic. Lastly was the ocean type wave hairstyle – this was a slick down ripple hair effect and was popular within the black communities in that era. It was slicked down to create a non-uniform wave.
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