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Article: History of the Flapper Dress: Then and Now

History of the Flapper Dress: Then and Now
Fashion Fix

History of the Flapper Dress: Then and Now


Carey, Mulligan, The Great Gatsby 2013. Photo by Everett/ REX Shutterstock. The 1920's have made quite a fashionable comeback the past few seasons with the help of shows like Downton Abbey and the 2013 film adaptation of The Great Gatsby. With dropped waists, fringing and endless beading, the flapper dress is back. And Team LBD loves it! Glitz and glamorous embellishment is at the top of most shopping lists, especially during party season. But where did the flapper dress come from? Team LBD investigates...

The Roaring Twenties

In a time of celebration and increasing prosperity following the First World War and the newly acquired right for females to vote, the 'Roaring Twenties' was a period of dancing, drinking, dressing and partying. What was once restricted to richer women in society, due to the expense of such overly embellished garments, quickly became something more accessible and easier to make at home, thanks to the lack of a corset. The flapper dress shape was a simple, over-the-knee length shift shaped dress, something dramatically different to the shapes previously seen in the 1900s, with its stiffened hourglass silhouette and long skirting. Fashion became empowering as women physically broke free from the confines of formality. The Roaring Twenties The Great Gatsby 2013. Photo by Moviestore/ REX Shutterstock. We may be talking about 1920's fashion, but the flapper dress didn't actually rise to popularity until 1926. A fashionable flapper girl had a short and shiny bobbed hair cut which was almost boyish yet well coiffured, often accessorised with a beaded or sequined headpiece. Clothes were overly dramatic, with as much fringing as possible to create movement and shape when dancing to jazz music. Considerably unlike the shape created by a corset in previous shapes, a lack of a bust in the 20's was much more desirable (to the point where large busted women taped them down to appear flatter!). Women smoked and applied makeup in public, with much more skin exposed. Hemlines did become much shorter, but only for a small amount of time - they rose and fell throughout the decade; it wasn't all about length, much more about the flapper state of mind. Overcoats and jackets remained long and flowing however, but these were quickly removed upon arrival.

The Flapper Girl

The women who circulated the fashion scene were known as flapper girls. These were young ladies who frequented all of society's best parties and bars; the modern party animals of today! Despite prohibition in the air throughout the twenties, that didn't stop them. It was a hugely experimental era; the flapper was bit of a reckless rebel who danced the nights away in the Jazz Age. It was no longer a restricted lifestyle for a young woman who wasn't allowed to leave the home whenever she pleased until married. From as young as 15, she was out to be seen, get drunk and scope out her stomping ground. 2 Elizabeth Debicki, The Great Gatsby 2013. Photo by Everett/ Shutterstock.

Demise of the Flapper

In such a fast-paced society, by the time 1929 came around flapper fashion was no longer deemed 'in'. In 1929 The Wall Street Crash, a catalyst for the Great Depression in America, catapulted the era of the Great Gatsby into an early grave. It was no longer an affordable lifestyle to lead in times of great economic difficulty. Fashions turned to more conservative, economically sustainable style that suited the climate.

The Flapper Dress Rises Again

With so many of us admitting to have magpie tendencies, we can safely say that the flapper dress is well and truly back on trend. With so much history and a great story behind the classic eveningwear trend, we can definitely see why! New season flapper dresses have started to arrive at Little Black Dress, perfect for Christmas parties and NYE celebrations!

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