F. Scott Fitzgerald described the beautiful Daisy Buchanan, who is the love interest of Jay Gatsby in his American classic The Great Gatsby, as a flapper girl. Since the highly anticipated adaptation for the screen by Baz Luhrmann will finally be released on May 10th, Daisy’s flapper look is again hot this summer. A style that’s almost a hundred year’s old becomes the latest fashion thanks to Luhrmann’s movie. Let’s take a look at this interesting style.
A little history lesson
The flapper girl, a phenomenon of the Roaring Twenties, is a term used to describe young women who bobbed their hair, listened to jazz and flouted the “decent” social and sexual norms. Fitzgerald himself, who popularized the flapper look and lifestyle, described flapper girls as “lovely, expensive, and about nineteen”
There is some doubt about the etymology of the word. Some of the possible origins of the word are:
– The sound that their unbuckled galoshes make while flapper girls walk (flap, flap, flap)
– Flap is an old word for prostitute
– Young birds flapping their wings
The Flappers’ image, which consists of drastic changes in women’s clothing and hair, was brought about by sociocultural changes in America and Europe. During the twenties, nearly every article of clothing was shortened and lightened. On the one hand you had the influence of music: the Jazz Age required women to be able to move freely in order to dance the energetic, wild dances of that age. On the other hand, women became more independent in the twenties. The traditional Victorian gender roles were overturned during this period. Women went out by themselves, smoked, drank alcohol and flirted with strange men. Furthermore, they were allowed to vote and some of them even got their own jobs. The flapper look is thus a translation of female liberty into fashion.
The flapper girl has a flamboyant and recognizable style. She wears excessive make-up, cute hats or headpieces with feathers and diamonds and straight and loose dresses with bare arms. In the twenties, some women – like the flapper – threw away their corsets because flat chests and slim bodies became popular, but also because they wanted to move more freely.
Some typical features of flapper fashion:
– Waist dropped to the hipline
– Hems of skirts started to rise: right below the knee
– Some dresses were v-shaped on the front and on the back
– Hair got shorter: flappers loved the bob cut or the even shorter Eton crop
– Dark, bee stung lips and heavy eye make-up
– Ivory skin, dramatic eyebrows and blushed cheeks
– Shoes that have a tap dance look: round noses and a medium heel. E.g. Mary Jane shoes
– Hats, headpieces or headbands on top of short, shiny hair
– Rolled down stockings just below the knee. This way, people can see some flesh when you dance.
This style is also known as “Garçonne” because of its boyish characteristics and its French influence. The famous French designer Coco Chanel was a pioneer when it comes to this boyish or androgynous style for women.
The Bedazzling Costumes
Luhrmann’s talented wife and costume designer Catherine Martin designed the costumes of the actors in cooperation with Miuccia Prada. The designers browsed the Prada and Miu Miu archives for inspiration and came up with several glamorous costumes in rich colors and luxurious fabrics. The jewelry for the movie was provided by Tiffany & Co. and is worth millions of dollars. Glitz and glamour we can only dream of.
Now it’s your turn!
Luckily for us, lots of budget friendly stores are hopping on the train of the flapper fashion and provide us with affordable Twenties glamour. The twenties look may not be as suited for every occasion or body type, but certainly is – to use some flapper slang – the bee’s knees and the cat’s meow!