1920s era flapper costume ideas

Written by amanda gronot
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1920s era flapper costume ideas
Flapper is a slang word for a young woman. (Getty Thinkstock)

Flappers were a product of the economic boom following the end of World War I, the liberalisation of social mores and the import of jazz culture to Britain. These women rebelled, wearing short skirts, short hair and lots of make-up. They listened to jazz, drank liquor, drove cars and smoked, symbolically exhibiting their new found liberty.

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The key to a flapper's dress is a low "drop" waist, a tight fit and a lack of sleeves. It does not need to be short, although high hemlines are more iconic. Corsets and restrictive bodices were out, but women with large busts in the 1920s often used newly invented bras to flatten their chests. The ideal flapper dress had straight lines; curves were eliminated for a more boyish look. The dresses were often decorated with fringe or feathers. Purchase an inexpensive, short, sleeveless, drop-waist dress and sew on a few lines of fringe near the bottom. Check vintage stores as well for a 1920s era dress which you can alter or decorate to your liking. Any colour will do, but flappers stood for rebellion, so bright colours will be more authentic.


Before the 1920s, women were expected to wear long hair because it was considered feminine. Women of the 1920s rebelled against this ideal by cutting their hair short. The most popular cut was a "bob," which hit just below the ears. If you don't want to cut your actual hair, you can find a wig of this length. Pick a colour that goes with your eyebrows. Crimp one side, leave it straight, or curl it all over. Flappers also tended to wear hair pieces like forehead bands. Choose a gold or silver sequinned forehead band and add one or two tall feathers.

1920s era flapper costume ideas
Use a curling iron to crimp hair, or put rollers all over for voluminous curls. (hair styling image by MAXFX from Fotolia.com)


Flappers tended to wear a lot of make-up, giving them a sultry, sexy aura. Wear bright red lipstick, but keep the colour matt -- don't wear gloss. Small "bow-shaped" lips were preferred, so use foundation or concealer to make your lips look smaller if yours are large. Flappers also tended to prefer very pale skin, so put on a layer of very light foundation unless you already have a very fair complexion. Line your eyes with black eyeliner, and wear heavy black mascara or fake lashes. Apply dark eye shadow all over the upper lid and around the rim of the eye on the bottom lid.

1920s era flapper costume ideas
Flappers favoured dark eyeliner all around the eye. (eye make up image by Lovrencg from Fotolia.com)


One of the most iconic parts of a flapper costume is a long string of fake pearls. These are usually available at craft stores or costume shops. Wear them wrapped a couple of times around your neck and hanging loosely over your chest. If you have enough length, tie the loose end in a knot that hangs down. Bright-coloured feather boas were also a popular item, as were newly introduced strappy high heels. Wear some elbow-length gloves and thigh-high stockings with a garter belt to top off the look. You could also add a long cigarette holder, large dangling earrings and a small glittery clutch purse with matching fringe.

1920s era flapper costume ideas
No flapper costume is complete without a strand of fake pearls. (pearls image by Alison Bowden from Fotolia.com)

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