The Flapper Dress: An Expression of Freedom
The flapper girl became an iconic figure; she smoked, drank alcohol, showed more skin, wore her hair very short, and listened to jazz music. This woman openly flouted the prevalent societal norms that expected a woman to behave in a more conservative manner.
The flapper fashion was deeply influenced by French fashion. Flapper girls were called "garçonne", which means a boy in French, albeit with a feminine suffix. The term was apt, as most girls looked boyish with very short hair and no accentuated curves. The dress was ideally designed for movement and comfort. The basic structure was straight and loose-fitting.
Most often, the dress had no sleeves, leaving the arms bare. Other patterns included dresses with thin straps or halter dresses. Occasionally, the dress was strapless, baring the shoulders as well.
The most important characteristic was the low waistline, which was dropped to the hips. The renowned fashion designer Coco Chanel, was an influential figure in the history of flapper fashion. She described this style as 'letting go of the waistline'.
The hemline was shortened and it rose to just above the knees, allowing flashes of a girl's legs to be seen as she danced or walked on a breezy day. Girls also wore dresses with the hemline falling to just below the knees. Ruffled and uneven hemlines were popular styles.
Heels gained popularity, and 2 - 3 inch high heels were worn with flapper dresses. Silk or rayon stockings, held up by garters, completed the look.
Girls also accessorized their outfit with rings, beaded necklaces, pins, and brooches. The cloche hat was popularly used. Boyish hairstyles like the Bob cut and the Shingle Bob were in vogue. Heavy makeup was used by the flapper girls. The eyes were lined with dark kohl, the lips were complemented with bright colors, and the application of blush became frequent.
Back with a Flap
The flapper dress returned to the fashion world in 2007. However, the credit for the true revival of this fashion goes to Kate Moss, who wore the flapper dress at the Glastonbury Festival. This look has an element of nonchalance that complements the image of today's free-spirited and independent woman. Simple yet chic, the dress is a fresh change from the complex prints and patterns of today. What further adds to the popularity of this dress is the loose-fitting element that suits slender as well as curvaceous women. A modern twist is added to this old classic silhouette with sequins, embellishments, and frills.
Try it Yourself
Conscious to show your bare arms? Throw a netted shrug over the dress. A cropped jacket, cute headband, beaded accessories, and a pair of wedges are your go-to options with this look. Go one step ahead and get a short Bob like Victoria Beckham, to turn yourself into a complete 1920s diva.
The flapper culture marked the beginning of a new and liberated woman. Although this fashion was way back in the '20s, the influence can be seen even till date.