Real Flappers

I’m going to be a flapper for Halloween so I thought I’d do a little research on what real flapper dresses looked like. As opposed to the standard costume shop sheath dress with a little or a lot of fringe added.

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Did flappers really wear fringe?

Well, yes some of them did but the concept is about more than that.

What is a flapper anyway?

Term coined after WWI which refers to the “modern woman” of the 1920s in the US and Europe as Dr. R. Murray-Leslie criticized “the social butterfly type… the frivolous, scantily-clad, jazzing flapper, irresponsible and undisciplined, to whom a dance, a new hat, or a man with a car, were of more importance than the fate of nations.” Also part of the “bright young things” movement in the UK and groups in Prohibition era US that hung out in the speak easy. The 1920 movie The Flapper helped popularize the term.

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After the tragedy and hardship of the First World War, a normal response is to want a change from the restrictive dress and morals of the Victorian era. This led to an interest in jazz, modern music, vaudeville, theatre, & motion pictures. The future was uncertain so instead rely on the pleasures of the moment whether that was alcohol, cigarettes, staying out at parties all night or (gasp) making out with members of the opposite sex.  Most of these were activities formerly reserved for men and prostitutes.  As the 20s went on it became more acceptable for normal young women to do them as well.

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Clothing became less restrictive and formal.  No more tight corsets or indeed corsets at all! Dresses were made from less fabric and hung loose and fell straight from the shoulder. Referred to as drop waisted, they really had no waist at all. Often embellished with art deco design, beading, feathers or fringe. Often sleeveless with skirt lengths being from mid calf to knee length.

Dresses are in the upcoming Augusta Auctions sale.

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