Or, ‘It’s time to rouge your knees and roll your stockings down.’
What is is about the 1920s?
When I started becoming interested in vintage fashion, it was partially in thanks to my father’s obsession with late 50s/ early 60s music, and as a result, my interest was focused on the post-war New Look that began in the late 1940s and gathered steam from there.
But a couple of years ago I stumbled upon some images from the 1920s/ 30s and my interest was piqued. There is something about these women, these flappers, an air of decadence, of freedom, of confidence.
There is so much that is fascinating about that era. The more I saw and the more I read I felt like I was only scratching the surface. There is so much I’d still love to learn about the post- World War I mentality, the changing image and roles of women, about Prohibition, and about the Great Depression.
Recently, thanks to Baz Luhrmann’s ‘The Great Gatsby’, a more stylised, glamourous 1920s aesthetic has made it’s way into the public eye. I’ve heard mixed opinions on the perpetuation of this ‘Gatsby’ image (as most people will call it a ‘Gatsby’ look and not know anything about the history of it!) but I personally enjoy when things like movies or television shows give the vintage looks a bit of publicity.
If anything it’s nice for people to be able to ‘place’ my looks as “you look like you’re from the set of Mad Men!” or “You’re doing a bit of a Gatsby look today!”…as opposed to just getting strange looks because I’m wearing a petticoat on the tram.
And currently I have become re-enamored with these fabulous women, modern interpretation or no. Here’s a delightful description of the flapper from Claire E. Jones’ article ‘How The Flapper Represented an Initial Movement Towards Postmodernism’:
By the early 1920s it seemed that every social ill in America could be attributed to the flapper, the notorious character type who bobbed her hair, smoked cigarettes, drank gin, sported short skirts, and passed her evenings in steamy jazz clubs, where she danced in a shockingly immodest fashion with a revolving cast of male suitors. She disports herself flagrantly in the public eye, and there is no keeping her out of grownup company or conversation.
Flaunter of rules and courters of trouble? Or just young women having some fun? Long live the flapper!
Sidenote: Most of the 1920s images come from the Tumblr of one of my favourite vintage bloggers, Gabrielle from The Drama of Exile. She has quite the collection of images of women from the 1800s – 1930s, so please make sure you check it out here.