How to make a 1920s flapper girl costume

Updated April 17, 2017

Purchased in a costume store, a 1920s flapper girl costume can cost upwards of £65. Those who recognise that the same thing can be made using many of the items already in your wardrobe end up creating a unique look at a fraction of the price. Emulating those rebellious women who danced the nights away during the roaring twenties can be done simply and affordably.

Start with a plain red, white or black short, sleeveless dress. The dress should be shapeless and tiered dresses work best, but any simple, spaghetti strap or tank-style dress will do.

Glue fringe to the bottom of the dress using a hot glue gun. Make sure to glue the fringe on the inside of the dress' hemline to create a peekaboo effect. You don't want to be able to see where the fringe is glued onto the dress, just where it peeks out from below the dress. Use as much or as little fringe as you like. If you're not sure how much fringe to expose, a good rule of thumb is about 7 cm (3 inches). If you have a dress with tiered layers, glue fringe on the underside of each layer.

Wear a pair of fishnet tights. Match the colour of your dress when choosing a pair of tights. If your flapper dress is white, wear white fishnets. Wear black fishnets with a black dress. Red fishnets can be hard to find, so black fishnet stockings would look fine with any colour dress. Add a garter to your left thigh to complete the leg look.

Drape a long strand of pearls over your neck. Layer the pearls once so it looks as though you are wearing two necklaces. Be sure to keep one strand much longer. The flapper girls let their pearl necklaces hang low and in a carefree manner.

Create the right flapper headgear by using a headband that goes around the head rather than over it. In other words, use a headband that fits over your forehead and ties or snaps at the back of your head. A thick piece of ribbon or elastic will also do the trick. Cover the headband in sequins by gluing them on with a hot glue gun. Cover the headband in its entirety to create a shimmery, metallic look. Add a feather, in true flapper fashion, to the front and centre of the headband. Glue the feather into place with the hot glue gun, or sew it to the headband to ensure it doesn't move out of place.

Wear a pair of round-toe Mary Janes, the quint essential flapper girl shoes. Wear any length heel in which you feel comfortable. The original flapper girls of the 1920's generally wore flat-heeled Mary Janes.

Complete the look with a feather boa and elbow-length gloves. Add some pop to your costume by choosing a colour not yet in the design. If your dress is black, for example, choose a red boa.

Go above and beyond with the perfect 1920's flapper girl accessories. Bring along a sequinned clutch and a long-stemmed cigarette holder to add a little something extra to the costume.

Things You'll Need

  • Shapeless, strapless Dress
  • Fringe
  • Glue gun
  • Glue stick
  • Fishnet stockings
  • Garter
  • Long pearl necklace
  • Headband
  • Feather
  • Sequins
  • Mary Jane shoes
  • Feather boa
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About the Author

Jessie Farkas has been writing professionally since 2006. Her work has been featured in "The Record-Courier," "The Nevada Sagebrush" and on several online publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of Nevada, Reno.