Art Deco Fashion – The Flapper

Art Deco Fashion – The Flapper

The women’s liberation movement was making significant progress in the early 1900s. The 1920’s and 1930’s saw many countries grant women the right to vote – including the USA, England, South Africa, Italy, Spain, Brazil, The Philippines, amongst many others. During WWI, women across the globe went to work to fill the employment void created when men went off to war. Many continued to work after the war and began to demand equal pay for equal work.

This new sense of freedom and liberation created huge changes in the lives of women everywhere. Attitudes were shifting and the progressive, modern women of the 1920s started rebelling against tradition. They no longer wanted to be associated with the prudish, Victorian values and did everything possible to radically distance themselves from the traditional, feminine image.

Women started wearing their hair and skirts short, got their drivers licences, started smoking, drinking, kissing and petting (oh my!) in public, wore heavy makeup and danced the Charleston at the hottest jazz clubs of the day. These young women came to be known as Flappers, “in reference to a young bird flapping its wings while learning to fly” ( An just like a bird flapped its wings to fly the coop, the women of the 1920s also flapped their wings, symbolically speaking, to escape convention and oppressive tradition.

Characteristics of Flapper Fashion:

  • Masculine forms – bustless, hipless, boyish shapes
  • Streamlined
  • Short hemlines (mid calf to just a smidgeon above the knee)
  • Tubular silhouette
  • The Cloche (domed or bell-shaped) hat
  • The classic, beaded, fringed ‘Charleston’ dress
  • Geometric, angular shapes and designs
  • Rolled down stockings
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