With the dawn of the 19th Century, fashion changed dramatically as it entered the exciting new era of the 1920s. The world welcomed new socio economic changes that revolved around the first WWI. In terms of women’s suffrage and liberation, this was one of the most celebrated times.


Fig 1: Sequins, Silks, Crystals and Embellishments


Fig 2: French Lace Silk slip, 1920s

The 1920s era of fashion is usually associated as ‘Flapper’s Fashion’ [1]. It brought about new conventions in fashion that were unheard of a century ago. A typical fashionable flapper kept short hair, had a flat chest, wore make up frequently outdoors and smoked like a man.The entire essence of the 1920’s ‘Flapper’s Fashion’ was a youthful body.

Unlike the earlier times which only spoke about the rich women, fashion was now an attainable aspect in the lives of all women. A flapper dress could easily be made at home and be worn by women. Old photographic records do account the clothing worn by ordinary women. It now existed even in the middle classes with a few distinctions here and there. Similar to previous times, the richer women would wear more sophisticated and luxurious outfits. Only over the years the hemlines rose and between the years 1926-1928, knees were exposed from the much shorter skirts. In the year 1925 the skirt rose from 14 to 16 inches from the floor which is a signature length of hemline from this era. Exposing the knee was the height of flapper fashion.


Fig 3: Knee length flapper dress

In the 1920’s decade of fashion, masculine silhouettes in women became more prominent. Clothes were no longer as fitting as they were. The manly aspects such as the shoulders became broader while the hair was kept short. Womanly curves were almost eliminated.

The psychology behind body image also changed in this new era. Slender flat-chested tanned bodies were being preferred over the previous generation stereotypes of beauty. Health clubs were brought for women to achieve their beauty goals. No longer were curvy bodies and rounded faces preferred anymore.

Unlike the previous generation of the never-ending layers, bras were introduced in the early 20’s. They were light in weight and made of cotton. Women with bigger busts would often bandage their chests in order to appear flat and often adopted the Symington Side Lacer to achieve the effect. Women preferred the manly aesthetics of a flat chest. Women soon abandoned the unforgiving corset. Women preferred the thin elastic webbing Lastex girdles. This helped give a flat chest effect. Underwear became minimal and lightweight. They wore directoires.


Fig 4: A 1920’s Brassierre

Women dressed conservative by the day in beige stockings. During the 1920s stockings were the hottest selling items. They were available in silk or artificial silk (rayon). One could choose from a variety of soft and feminine colours.

Coco Chanel’s silhouette was the signature of the 1920’s style [2]. One of the modern fashion designers of that time,she brought about freshness to the female silhouette. She promoted the flapper style. Neutral shades such as beige, cream, navy and black were widely used by Coco Chanel.They were breathable, easy to wear, practical and modern.She also introduced the classic Little Black dress which remains popular even today.


Fig 5: The 75 year old classic LBD


Fig 6: Coco Chanel

The 1920’s embraced short hair and had no regard for the old world notion of crowning glory. Hair first underwent the bob cut. It was later shingled and eton cropped. Wearing a cloche hat meant telling the world that you had short hair. It hid the forehead which was not considered fashionable in this era.


Fig 7: 1920’s Makeup

The scope for makeup expanded during this period. It was considered fashionable to open your vanity kit in public. A compact was first applied followed by a lip stick. Rouge was not applied so extensively.

Shoes became an essential commodity at this time. High heels over two inches were worn. The Mary Janes were the most popular shoes of this time. Sequin trims were quite common at this point.


Fig 8: Flapper shoes

Overall this was a fun decade in fashion where the notion of women’s role in society changed. There was liberalization measures like never before, shunning the archaic times.


Figure 9: Women of the 1920s


1. Flapper Era, n.d, Flapper Fashion- 1920s,, Accessed Nov 11, 2014

2. Biography, Coco Chanel,  2014, Nov 11,  2014


1.Figure 1, Uploaded, n.d, Welcome to the 1920s , Accessed Nov 22, 2014

2. Figure 2, Pinterest, Aug 2014, French Lace Silk slip, 1920s, from the Vintage Textile archives.New York Vintage Linens, Nov 11, 2014

3. Figure 3, Mote Histoire, n.d, Husk, duskal do, Nov 11, 2014

4. Figure 4, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2011, The Collection Online, Accessed Nov 11, 2014

5. Figure 5, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000, Gabrielle Coco Chanel, Accessed  Nov 11, 2014

6. Figure 6, The Telegraph, n.d, Serge Lifar and the Ballets Russes sale in Geneva,, Accessed Nov 11, 2014

7. Figure 7, The Huffington Post, 2013, 1920 Fashion: How to add a little flapper style to your wardrobe,, Accessed Nov 11, 2014

 8. Figure 8, Flickr, 2009, Women’s Satin Bar Shoe, Nov 11, 2014

9. Figure 9,  Vintage Retro, 1927, Clara Bow shows off her fashionable friends in Rough House Rosie, Accessed Nov 11, 2014