Flapper Dress and 1920s Dancing Dresses

Flapper DressIn the beginning of the 1920s fashion transformation, the word "flapper" really meant something. It signified a youth that had charm and attraction. In the 1920 flapper era’s earliest years she was known as "a sprightly and knowing miss in her early teens." Within years it came to mean so much that it was practically meaningless.

The twenties flapper girl qualified her personality with adjectives and adverbs or with passions that rose into superlatives. It was used unfairly by all the elders who wanted to keep youth out of the game of running things, so that they could maintain an everlasting, doddering grip on modern progress. Flapper! Dreadful young creatures— squealing and squawking and showing their legs!

The following poem written about the roaring twenties style by Muriel Ives clarified some of the animosity towards this new modern flapper girl:


I wish I were a flapper—
Whose galoshes spread their wings.
With a funny hat smashed up in front.
And dangling pearl earrings.

I wish I were a flapper—
With a mop of curly hair
That's bobbed and sticks out all around
And makes the people stare.

I wish I were a flapper—
With a little too much paint;
With cheeks too pink and lips too red
And brows too slimly quaint.

I wish I were a flapper—
Instead I'm nothing much
But a rather well-dressed woman,
And there are so many such!

I wish I were a flapper—
Though I've heard they're hard and bold,
And they are so funny-looking—
For they are Youth. I'm growing old.


In retrospect, was the 1920s flapper dress not more sensible, sanitary, comfortable and sightly than her Victorian grandmother's? Just remember the bustle — a hump of deformity—and the skirt with four yards dragging on the ground, raking up the dust.


Flapper Dress
1920s Dress
"Femme Batang-Padang"

In 1922, Gazette du Bon Ton featured several sketches of "Robes a Danser" (dancing dresses). These designs were glamorous and chic, stylish and “modern", the perfect style for the 1920s flapper dress. The fashions were inspired by the costumes of "femmes de couleur de l'Afrique Centrale" (women of color of central Africa).


The 1920 flapper girl’s after-war significance entangled itself with the ''dreadful" side of youth—with jazz, short skirts, bobbed hair and glistening legs. She embraced the "immodest" omission of corsets; cigarette smoking; petting parties and gasoline buggy riding. The twenties flapper was enthralled with psychoanalysis, Greenwich Village follies and Ziegfeld chorus girls. She was captivated with one-piece bathing suits; with so-called modernism in art; with the intellectual manners of Mrs. Asquith, Countess of Oxford. She experimented with exposing and slandering of old fogies; with birth control and eugenics; with Bolshevism, both the parlor variety and the Russian experiment; or with anything else that the newspapers happened to be full of and the elder generation of the ultraconservative sort didn't approve.


Flapper Dress

1920s Dress
"Femme de Borneo"


These 1920s dresses were described as "sketches of dresses perfect for dancing" offering wild ornaments of braid straw and necklaces of wood.


The Delineator, in 1921, declared that “seven eligible bachelors say she [flapper] would be a failure as a wife, and they refuse to marry her.” One bachelor was twenty-six years old, good looking, earning $8,000 a year, with an enviable war record; he explained why they would not marry the “modern girl.” The flapper or modern girl was too "easy." He preferred “another ten years of single blessedness.” He felt that the flapper let the barriers down too far and the respect of men went with them. He shared his thoughts with other young men and their opinions boiled down to this unpleasant term: the modern girl was too "easy". Moreover, these gentlemen saw the average flapper girl as “blasé” because of her experimental attitude towards life which always prompted her to "try it once." The average mother had a shock in store for her if she ever found her daughter out. The bachelor claimed that most flapper girls had their mother fooled to a "fare-ye-well."


Flapper Dress

1920s Dress
"Femme Amaguilla (Afrique)"


The 1920s dresses were inspired by the African women who dance around the "light of the tribe" and follow the undulation of the body as they collide and "fly around in the frenzy of the dance."


He further explained that in the younger country club set —"children" of eighteen to twenty—it was common to see the girls and boys surreptitiously tilting a hip flask into the lemonade, or in a dark conservatory taking it "straight." They went on long un-chaperoned motor rides and "mushed it up," as they called it, with most disconcerting frankness. These girls, who smoked, drank and danced like demi-mondaines, were really the "nice" girls from affluent families. My Lord! If the nice girls are like this, what can be expected of girls who have had far fewer opportunities in the world? The modern flapper girl has no reticence; she wants only to be popular with men.

Flapper Dress

1920s Dress
"Princess Bara (Afrique)"


Flapper Dress


1920s Dress
"Vallee du Chari"


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Attending a Flapper party or want to arrange a Boardwalk Empire bash? Learn how to dress for motoring, afternoon tea, formal dinner, wedding and, of course, a dance party. Shapely curves were concealed and flat-chested was in! Explore the sophistication of 1920s dresses as you plan your fancy dress or masquerade costume. What could be more fun than 1920s style fashions and millinery creations, all featured in wonderful color pictures.