After World War I, there was an awareness among society of the shortness and vulnerability of ones life. Because of the tragedy of war, America experienced what was called “The Lost Generation”. So many young men had died that society was missing a generation who were meant to marry the young women who had remained at home away from the battleline.
A joie de vivre broke out among the youth. Girls wanted to have new and exciting experiences. Women Won the vote in 1920 and were about to experience the very first sexual revolution! To be athletic, tan and healthy, to go dancing and smoke and drink, just like one of the guys, was THE thing. Showing a limb, like an arm, or wearing nude colored stockings (instead of white or black) was considered both edgy and natural. The new style was for low maintenance shift dresses and non constricting bras. These garments gave girls the ability to move and do things which had been considered improper for girls in previous generations. Freedom!
Icons rose out of the cinema and vaudeville theaters. Two important film actresses were the sassy Clara Bow and the sultry Louise Brooks (below). These women were the role models for “bright young things” who were dying for just an INCH of their sex appeal and glamour!
The most distinctive feature of the flapper was their new bobbed hair style. The ideal was a sleek helmet of chic hair like Louise Brooks’ but there were also curled and feminine styles like the ones pictured below. The point was, short hair was boyish and effortless, just what a flapper wanted!
I put together a timeline below of the evolution of the 1920s hemline. Though the short hem is distinctive of the flapper, the hem was shortest in 1926. Through the years, the skirt remained long, even into the 1930s. Its interesting that the iconic flapper look is a short beaded dress, the image is burned in our minds even if that wasn’t what our flapper girl was always wearing!
Do you love the 1920s? What are some of your favorite vintage styles?