FLAPPERS // 1920’s
Flappers were a “new breed” of young Western women in the 1920s who wore short skirts, bobbed their hair, listened to jazz, and flaunted their disdain for what was then considered acceptable behavior. Flappers were seen as brash for wearing excessive makeup, drinking, treating sex in casual manner, smoking, driving automobiles and otherwise flouting social and sexual norms.
Flappers refers to young women ages 15-25 who dressed in a young “hip” way.
They typically wore:
-low cut dresses that revealed the neck and the throat
-hems just below the knee
-“light weight” cloths (compared to earlier dresses eg. an earlier dress might use 20yd of fabric where as 1920’s dresses only used 7yd’s)
-typically wore long strings of beads
-bobbed hair cuts
-most dyed their hair dark
The term “flapper” refers to the idea that they are young birds “flapping” their wings, referencing their young age and “young” ideas. The loose clothing symbolized freedom from constraints from society.
Coco Chanel had a brief career on stage in the early 20th century, but will always be known for her fashion designs and the line of clothing and perfume that carries her name. By 1920, the French designer had introduced her “chemise,” the simple, short, and loose dress that allowed flappers the freedom of movement to dance the night away.
Dorothy Parker wrote poetry, short stories, and essays, and was a founding member of the Algonquin Round Table, a group of fashionable writers and celebrities who met for lunch and drinks and whose lifestyles influenced the smart set from 1919 to 1929.
Zelda Fitzgerald was an author and the wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald. Her lifestyle made her a celebrity outside the literary world, and her husband called her “the first American Flapper.” The two were notorious for public partying, and their drunken antics were a staple of society headlines in the 1920s. From 1930 on, Zelda was in and out of mental hospitals for the rest of her life.
The Playful flapper here we see,
The fairest of the fair.
She’s not what Grandma used to be,
— You might say, au contraire.
Her girlish ways may make a stir,
Her manners cause a scene,
But there is no more harm in her
Than in a submarine.
She nightly knocks for many a goal
The usual dancing men.
Her speed is great, but her control Is something else again.
All spotlights focus on her pranks.
All tongues her prowess herald.
For which she well may render thanks
To God and Scott Fitzgerald.
Her golden rule is plain enough -
Just get them young and treat them rough.