Flapper Fashion & Beauty Tutorial
Flappers are some of history’s most notorious party girls. During the Roaring Twenties, this daring group of women rebelled against strict societal norms that once defined and restricted their gender. Their carefree attitudes make it very clear that they didn’t care about traditions held by the older generation. Flappers believed that if women wanted to smoke, drink, dance, and party all night long, they had every right to do so.
Along with devil-may-care attitudes, Flappers were iconic fashionistas. They loved stylish dresses, shoes, accessories, and were even the first women in history to dabble in makeup trends. Their rebellious nature paired with iconic outfits and hairstyles to create a stylish symbol of the 1920s.
If you want to bring some of that fierce flapper attitude into the present day, you’ve come to the right place. This tutorial will provide you with everything you need to create a head-to-toe look inspired by flapper fashion of the 1920s.
Creating a fun flapper look starts with the right clothing. While today we envision flappers wearing skimpy mini dresses covered in fringe, that wasn’t exactly how fashion-forward ladies in the 1920s actually dressed. While their frocks were indeed “short,” they were short by 1920s standards. Typically, the hemline of a flapper’s party dress would hit anywhere from just slightly past the knee to the middle of the calf. We would consider them midi-dresses in the modern era.
Another important aspect to consider when shopping for an authentic flapper dress is the cut of the dress. Women during the 1920’s were rebelling against tightly corseted Victorian fashion. It’s for this reason that many of their dresses featured a relaxed fit with either a dropped-waist or no obvious waistline at all. After all, flappers needed sheath dresses that were breezy, chic, and easy to dance in, which was essential during the height of the Jazz Age.
Authentic flapper dresses may not have been covered in fringe, but that doesn’t mean they were boring. Dresses that were popular during the 1920s were heavily embellished with feminine details like ruffles, beads, or embroidery. Dresses typically featured a colorful slip underneath and a sheer overlay that was covered in heavily decorated details.
To create an authentic flapper look, look for a sheath-style dress that features a sheer overlay and opulent details. A daytime look calls for a chic, colorful dress that features a soft overlay with beautiful ruffles and fancy floral accents. If a party look is what you’re after, opt instead for something with lots of beaded, Art Deco details so that you can sparkle and shine while doing the Charleston at a smoky club. Just make sure it has a relaxed fit and is easy to move in so that it never gets in the way of your dance moves.
No outfit is complete without a fabulous pair of shoes. Luckily, footwear that was popular during the 1920s still looks incredibly chic today. When heading out for a night of dancing The Charleston, women needed a stylish pair of heels that would stay on their foot. That’s the reason that T-strap shoes became so popular during the Jazz Age. Not only did their cut-outs look spectacular when paired with their short dresses, they also made it easy to participate in the dance crazes that were increasingly popular.
To select a style that will provide you with an authentic flapper look, cut-out details are key. A traditional leather shoe with a T-strap detail and slight, stacked heel is exactly what flappers would have worn with their party dresses. To take it to the next level, look for Art Deco-inspired shoes with metallic finishes or intricate cut-outs throughout the design.
Headwear is essential when it comes to flapper fashion. These fabulous ladies loved accessories and wanted to look stylish from head to toe. During the day, a cloche hat was an essential accessory. These bell-shaped hats were the perfect complement to cropped bob hairstyles that women everywhere wanted to wear. Many cloche hats featured floral details or other embellishments so that they were even more statement-making. If you are looking to re-create a daytime flapper fashion look, you must find a cute cloche hat to accent your look.
Headbands were another way that flappers added visual interest to their outfits. These fun accessories sat across the forehead in a dramatic fashion. Often, they were embellished with beads, feathers, or other eye-catching details, and they were usually reserved for going out drinking and dancing. A shimmering beaded headband is a must-have accessory when re-creating party-ready flapper fashion.
A third kind of hat that was popular during the 1920s was the Turban. Many aspects of fashion were heavily influenced by the Art Deco movement, which was inspired by Egyptian design. These head coverings covered the entire head and were usually covered in geometric beading. This was the only type of hat that was appropriate for a woman to wear with her evening attire. If you opt for a beaded turban-style hat, be sure to pair it with an elegant floor-length gown.
Along with hats and headwear, flappers loved accessories. One reason was because 1920s were an era of wealth, prosperity, and excess. Flappers wanted to show off their decadent nature by looking the part. Another reason that flappers loved jewelry is a bit more practical. The industrial revolution meant that items were starting to be mass produced with synthetic materials. This meant that “costume jewelry” was available for the very first time. With jewelry more affordable than ever before, young women during the Roaring Twenties couldn’t get enough.
To re-create an authentic flapper fashion look, accessories are a must. Intricate chandelier earrings with Art Deco influence were a favorite among flappers. They featured glittering stones and were sometimes accented by ornate metalwork. With that said, pearls were undoubtedly a favorite accessory of flappers everywhere. Famous French dancer Josephine Baker often preformed wearing multiple strands of long pearl necklaces. To take your flapper fashion look to a stylish new level, simply add a strand – or two, or three – of faux pearls.
Handbags weren’t quite as popular in the 1920s as they are today. Still, flappers needed a place to store their cigarettes, lipstick, and other accessories when heading out for a roaring night on the town. Beaded or embellished Pochettes and Reticules were a favorite among flappers. These small, unstructured bags either cinched or snapped closed to secure a woman’s belongings inside. Pair your daytime flapper fashion outfits with a sleek, sophisticated handbag made of silk. If a going-out look is what you’re after, look for a clutch that is covered in beadwork or metallic mesh.
During the Victorian and Edwardian Era, women were practically required to wear their hair long. Many women never cut their hair at all and piled it atop their heads in elaborate up-dos. Flappers were looking for virtually any way to rebel against outdated social constructs, so it makes sense that a short, statement-making haircut was a must have for these stylish, “unruly” women. To see what cut was popular at the time, just take a look at photos of actress Louise Brooks. Her glossy, closely cropped hair cut was exactly what flappers wanted to look like.
If cutting your hair isn’t exactly on your agenda, mimic another popular 1920s hair-do by setting your hair into finger curls. These elegant waves were a favorite of flappers and have become an iconic hairstyle from the Twenties. Click here for a step-by-step video that will help you create your own finger curls at home. Or, mimic the look by using a modern day curling iron or crimper.
Want to learn more about popular vintage hair styles? Click here to explore other options – there are even instructions on how to create a faux flapper bob.
Make Up Trends
Many women would have a hard time imagining a world without makeup. But before the 1920s, makeup was a controversial product. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, respectable women didn’t wear makeup at all. In fact, it was considered something that only “indecent” women or stage actors did. The Hollywood Film industry changed all of that. Famous actresses wore makeup on screen, and their flapper followers wanted to mimic the look of their favorite starlets. Makeup quickly became socially acceptable, and by the mid 1920s there were makeup counters in department stores across the nation.
Not unlike today, flappers loved accentuating their eyes. Heading out for a night on the town called for a dramatic, heavily-lined eye. While the products they used were a bit different than the ones we use today, their makeup techniques are easy to emulate with modern products. Take inspiration from Mary Pickford, an actress considered “America’s Sweetheart” during the 1920s, who frequently paired doe-eyed makeup with a cascade of finger curls.
Click here for a video tutorial on how to create a classic 1920s makeup look.
The other makeup trend that flappers couldn’t get enough of was called the “Cupids Bow.” This sensational style was made famous by an actress called Clara Bow, who would use her lipstick to make her mouth look smaller and rounder. The sweet, demure look was all the rage during the 1920s. To re-create this look, use a dark lipstick to exaggerate the curves of your top lip and highlight the center of your bottom lip.
Click here for a video tutorial on how to create a modern version of the classic Cupid’s Bow lip.